2008-07-30 / Family

Summer reading is good for mind and soul

By Gwen Sadler

Lisa Billings/Chesterfield Observer Brie Stockwell of Midlothian peruses books in search of a good summer read at the Clover Hill Library last week.
Whether you're traveling for vacation, or staying home while the temperature soars, summer is a good time to catch up on some reading.

Summer is one of two big seasons for publishers and booksellers, according to Tom Shepley, publications and promotions manager for Chesterfield County libraries.

"Publishers put out a lot of books in May," Shepley said. "The most popular books [at the library] tend to be the ones that are popular across the culture."

For adult readers


Janet Evanovich ("Fearless Fourteen") is a perpetual favorite, as is Nora Roberts. And while both these ladies began their careers writing category romances, they have evolved into romantic suspense authors that appeal to both men and women. Roberts' adventures written under the pseudonym J.D. Robb are also popular with adults of both genders.

"People want books that are funny and short," said Faye Waters of The Book Exchange, a used-book store in Midlothian. "They don't want to give too much thought to what they're reading [during the summer]."

In addition to books by Evanovich, Roberts and Robb, both men and women choose books written by John Grisham and David Baldacci. Women also like Kathy Reichs mysteries, while men are more interested in Clive Cussler adventures.

"Our requests [for books] tend to be different than those at new-book stores," notes John Sims, owner of The Cracked Book, another used-book store in Midlothian. "Most of our customers are women, and we get a lot of requests for contemporary romances." He noted a lot of interest in Emily Giffin, Jane Green and Mary Kay Andrews.

"Anything that's been on the [New York Times] bestseller list is popular," Sims said. "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" by Kim Edwards and anything by Jodi Picolt are favorites.

History is popular in nonfiction, according to Sims. Books by David McCullough and anything about the Civil War or World War II are often requested. He also is frequently asked about spiritual books, such as those by Max Lucado, Joyce Meyer and Eckhart Tolle.

Biographies are popular choices in nonfiction at the library, including "What Happened" by Scott McClellan, "Audition: A Memoir" by Barbara Walters and "sTori Telling" by Tori Spelling, said Shepley. "Fleeced" by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann also is a recent favorite.

David Sedaris' funny memoirs, such as "When You Are Engulfed in Flames," are also popular picks.

Some people want to learn new skills during summer. "Books about landscaping don't stay in the store long," said Waters.

Series recommendations


One of the most popular novelists writes paranormal romances for both adults and teens. People of all ages are anxiously awaiting the early August release of Stephenie Meyer's "Breaking Dawn," the fourth book in her Twilight series. Earlier books in the series are still popular as well.

Christopher Paolini's Inheritance series, often referred to as the "Eragon" books, continues to enthrall teens with its newest installment, "Brisingr." James Patterson's Maximum Ride series for teens is frequently requested at The Cracked Book, while Patterson's mysteries for adults remain popular as well. And kids of all ages are still reading the Harry Potter books.

More for teens/children


The Gossip Girl books by Cecily Von Ziegesar and the Clique series by Lisi Harrison are popular among teen girls. Ann Brashares' "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" and its sequels are still frequently requested.

For 7-10 year olds, the Ben M. Baglio animal stories are popular, while books by Rick Reardon and Jeff Kinney are among the most-requested by 9-12 year olds. For even younger children, the Magic Tree House timetravel adventure series by Mary Pope Osborne continues to be popular, as do the Junie B. Jones books by Barbara Park.

Also in demand at bookstores and the library are the books on the schools' summer reading lists and the books included on the Battle of the Books lists, which are especially popular in the middle-school age group.

"Summer's a great time for everyone to read," Shepley said. "It's good intellectual exercise. It helps keep older people young and helps kids to maintain their skills."

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