By Keri Hayes

Special to the Arizona Summer Wildcat

Most students know how it goes; by the time the semester is done, your head is stuffed with textbook and "required" reading. But summer is here, and time abounds to explore the shelves of your local bookstore or library for "pleasure" reading. Whether you're dodging Tucson's scorching summer heat by the pool or in your air-conditioned dwelling, or if you're lucky enough to be embarking on a trip to somewhere more exciting, it's time to check out what the literary minds of our generation have created to help pass the time and exercise your imagination.

If you haven't been keeping up with who has written what lately, Michele Cox, manager of the local Barnes and Noble bookstore, made a few suggestions from their "New Releases" rack.

Michael Crichton has just published his latest book, "Disclosure," which tackles the endlessly controversial issue of sexual harassment from a different angle. A young man on his way to the top in the competitive computer industry is charged with sexual harassment; while putting together his defense, he uncovers widespread scandal within the industry and must come to grips with his situation.

Cox also suggested Allan Folsom's "The Day After Tomorrow," a suspense thriller that has already sold five million copies and is on its way into the movies. Folsom weaves together disparate events in Europe and the U.S. to reveal an international conspiracy of enormous dimensions. The reader is taken on a mental roller coaster following Folsom's gripping plot.

For the Joyce Carol Oates fans, she has just released her latest novel, "Foxfire," the story of a 1950s female gang. Oates creates vivid heroines who are motivated by their anger at sexual abuse to lure predatory men into sex-baited traps. The bonds between the women hold the plot together as they demand vengeance, pride and power in a world they had no part in creating.

On the lighter side ~mid~ is Jimmy Buffet's newest, "Where is Joe Merchant?" the story of a man named Frank Bama who flies boats in the Caribbean and searches for the rock star, Joe Merchant, who supposedly committed suicide. "Where is Joe Merchant?" is a true adventure story, with African generals, lost treasure, tabloid reporters, Fidel Castro, the Bermuda Triangle, crystal power, space aliens, hit men, saviors, death, deception, betrayal and redemption. While the real Margaritaville may be somewhere around the Caribbean, UA graduate Jeffrey Troutman, 23, said Tucson sufficed while he read Jimmy Buffet's creation.

"Sit under the palm trees, between the cacti, revel in a cool tequila drink, mind-surf through this book and you will find Joe Merchant," Troutman said.

While you're there, check out Douglas Coupland's latest, "Life After God." In a series of short stories written for the "first generation raised without religion," Coupland takes an insightful and sometimes frightening look at the social circumstances that shaped our lives and his. Try reading a few of his stories out loud around a campfire with friends. Read Next Article