Originally created 06/04/06

Great book finds can help pass leisurely days



Pull out the bookmarks and the reading glasses (bathing suits are optional): Summer is the perfect time to find comfort in a good book.

As movie studios launch their blockbuster hopefuls on the big screen, publishing houses are releasing a flurry of titles for readers that should pack as much bang as any action flick.

From books for Dad just in time for Father's Day, to tales of detectives and terrorists, there are a lot of titles and plots from which to choose, said Sessalee Hensley, the fiction buyer for Barnes & Noble Inc.

"There's plenty to read for anybody and everybody this summer," Ms. Hensley said. "There is no one reader for all of this."

Serious readers, Ms. Hensley said, are bound to enjoy the latest from Matthew Pearl, The Poe Shadow, after enjoying his 2003 hit, The Dante Club. They might prefer Blow the House Down, from Robert Baer (who wrote the novel that spawned the movie Syriana), billed as an strikingly plausible alternative history to Sept. 11.

For those looking for quick beach reads, Ms. Hensley recommends James Patterson, whose Beach Road and upcoming release of Judge & Jury, with Andrew Gross, have already created a buzz.

Those into women's fiction, she said, might like South Carolina native Dorothea (Dottie) Frank's latest, Full of Grace, Emily Giffin's Baby Proof or and Joshilyn Jackson's Between Georgia.

"Like I said, there's pretty much something for everybody," Ms. Hensley said. "Unless you want to read Kafka, and then you're just going to have to read Kafka, but that's not one of my summer reads. Summer is time for fun reads."

Add to the list of fun reads: The New York Times best-selling author Janet Evanovich's latest, Twelve Sharp, which brings bounty hunter Stephanie Plum back on the scene to solve another murder, and Dean Koontz with The Husband, a tale of a kidnapping and the price one pays for love, said Borders spokeswoman Beth Bingham.

Master storyteller John Updike also has a new release, Terrorist, a novel that explores the intricacies of what makes one of modern day's most feared men and women.

Though fiction will continue to be strong for the summer, Ms. Bingham said, on the nonfiction end, Nathaniel Philbrick's Mayflower is expected to lure readers with its tale of the Pilgrims' voyage to the New World.

"(The book) just came out very, very strong and gives a very interesting perspective on history and the beginning of the United States," she said. "It's viewed differently, researched differently. It's just very well written and accessible. History can be challenging to get through, and with this, I started reading it and was able to breeze right through."

Another book that has started out strong and is expected to last through summer, Ms. Bingham said, is Anderson Cooper's book, Dispatches from the Edge, which looks into the lives and travels of the television reporter who won the hearts and allegiance of millions with his coverage of the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

Just in time for Father's Day, Tim Russert's Wisdom of Our Fathers also is on the nonfiction list, Ms. Bingham said.

Summer is a big season for booksellers, Ms. Hensley said, but it's a great season for book-lovers, too.

"We're excited," Ms. Bingham said, adding that the excitement is sure to extend to readers who have more than just warm days to look forward to.

"We think there are good titles coming this summer and throughout the fall," she said. "So they'll be able to keep reading all the way through."

With so much literature on the shelves, here's a sampling of what's out and coming out this summer.

Reach Kamille Bostick at (706) 823-3223 or kamille.bostick@augustachronicle.com.

'Judge & Jury'

By James Patterson and Andrew Gross

Release Date: July 31 (Little, Brown)

In short: A mob boss is arrested, but when it comes down to the trial, a hit man derails things. The retrial also is threatened, making those on the side of justice take the law into their own hands.

'Wisdom of our Fathers'

By Tim Russert

Released: May 23 (Random House)

In short: In a follow-up to his memoir about his relationship with his working-class father, the Meet the Press host returns with letters he received from sons and daughters about their relationships with their fathers.

'The Husband'

By Dean Koontz

Released: May 30 (Bantam Dell)

In short: It was an ordinary day until a man gets a call that his wife has been kidnapped, he's to pay a $2 million ransom and has just 60 hours to come up with the cash. No police, no way out, just a thrilling read.

'Twelve Sharp'

By Janet Evanovich

Release Date: June 20 (St. Martin's Press)

In short: Stephanie Plum is back on the case. The bounty hunter gets a tip from a stranger before being caught in a spiral of finding a murderer, rescuing a missing child and making sure there are no more victims.

'Blow the House Down'

By Robert Baer

Released: May 30 (Crown)

In short: A fired CIA agent pieces together clues and facts to get to an alternate view of why the World Trade Center might have been targeted. It's fiction, but it's also pretty interesting.

'Dispatches from the Edge'

By Anderson Cooper

Released: May 23 (Harper Collins)

In short: Popular as a news reporter, Anderson Cooper talks about the stories he's covered, the life he's lived and some truths about what makes a TV story.

'Terrorist'

By John Updike

Release Date: June 6 (Knopf)

In short: An 18-year-old son of an Irish-American mother and Egyptian father falls head-first into his father's religion of Islam and finds himself in the midst of a deadly plot.

'Mayflower'

By Nathaniel Philbrick

Released: May 9 (Viking Adult)

In short: The story of the Pilgrims' fleeing religious persecution and landing in the New World in the dead of winter, surviving with the help of the Wampanoag Indian tribe, is only the start.

'Baby Proof'

By Emily Giffin

Release Date: June 13 (St. Martin's Press)

In short: Claudia and Ben are married and in love, but only Ben wants to have a baby. With both deciding to not compromise, there's only one way out: divorce. But is it over?

'What They Want'

By Omar Tyree

Release Date: July 4 (Simon & Schuster)

In short: Terrance Mitchell is a successful model and ladies man but wonders whether it is time to give up his playboy lifestyle. Considering a different future, however, doesn't mean he can't run from his past.