Booksellers recommend titles for fun summer reading season

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Published: June 18,2007

The summer book selling season is here when readers may change their reading habits somewhat to accommodate a more relaxed schedule. Mississippi’s independent bookstores are ready with whatever reading material customers want.

Mary Warner, events coordinator for Square Books in Oxford, said people are more inclined to read more in the summer or maybe read something they wouldn’t read at other times of the year because they have more time.

“I think people read more relaxing types of books, and we notice an increase in sales of books that are easy to carry, such as mass paperbacks to carry on vacation,” she said. “We also sell a lot of audio books in the summer because they’re convenient for travelers.”

Joe Hickman, manager of Lemuria Books in Jackson, thinks the summer reading season is a little slower. “That’s because publishers don’t push books as much and they’re gearing up for the fall,” he said. “A huge percentage of the book business is done for fall and Christmas. We get big book orders then and have less new ones coming out now.”

Still, Hickman finds that many people read differently in the summer. “They’re looking for lighter things and books that are more of an escape than the rest of the year,” he said. “Readers want the kind of books they can pass along to friends or leave at the beach without it being a big loss.”

In the Delta

At Turn Row Book Company in Greenwood, owner Jamie Kornegay is seeing more summer travelers passing through, students reading classics for summer reading assignments and more fiction selling for vacations.

“Here, I’m getting to know my customers and their individual tastes,” he said. “We’re in a good location and encouraged by the business we have.”

Part of that fortunate location is being downtown near the Viking Cooking School that brings well-known chefs to town. David Pasternak, chef and author of “The Young Man and the Sea,” will be at Turn Row Books August 11. Kornegay describes the author as an expert on fish from pole to pan.

Another interesting event for the area is planned for July 19 when Gerard Helserich, author of “High Cotton: Four Season in the Mississippi Delta,” will be on hand along with Zack Killebrew, the Tchula cotton farmer who inspired the book.

“It’s a true account and tells the story of a cotton farmer through all the cycles,” Kornegay said. “It tells how challenging cotton farming is, and it’s tough from all perspectives.”

Kornegay and Hickman recommend “Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician” as a great summer read. The author, Daniel Wallace, who wrote “Big Fish,” will visit Lemuria on July 18 and Turn Row Books on July 21.

“It’s a fantastic Southern novel and I like it a lot,” Kornegay said. “It’s a Southern myth about a man who sells his soul to the devil to become the world’s best magician.”

Lemuria is also having a Harry Potter party July 20 when the next book in author J.K. Rowling’s series goes on sale at midnight.

Award-winning British author Ian McEwan’s latest release, “On Chesil Beach,” tops the recommended summer reading list of Hickman and Mary Warner. She also touts humorist Roy Blount Jr.’s newest book, “Long Time Leaving, Dispatches from up South.”

“It’s hilarious and he will be at Square Books on June 21,” she said. “Another book I recommend is ‘City Adrift’ by Curtis Wilkie. It’s not fun, but it’s thought provoking as it probes what went wrong in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.”

Good reads, great eats

Warner finds that customers are also thinking about cooking and eating during this time of year. That’s why she recommends the revised “Southern Belly” by John T. Edge, a well-known Southern writer.

“It’s about food you can find on the road as you travel,” she said. “Many of the places are in Mississippi, places where you can get fabulous food at hole-in-the-wall places. It’s a fun book.”

She also highly recommends ‘“Simply Salads” by Jennifer Chandler. The author takes basic lettuce and walks cooks through making scrumptious salads, including dressings.

“It’s so popular we ran out of it and are ordering more copies,” she said. “I even gave away my copy.”

To the recommended summer reading list, Hickman adds “The Good Husband” by Alexander McCall Smith; “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini; “Queen of Broken Hearts” by Cassandra King; “The Cloud of Unknowing” by Thomas H. Cook; and “Hunter’s Moon” by Randy Wayne White.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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