Summertime, and the reading is chilling, thrilling and tear-jerking, according to Maine’s public librarians. We asked librarians to tell us which books are flying off the shelves, for readers in every age group. We also asked them to recommend some additional picks to read before the summer is through.
According to Brian Sylvester, director of the Thomaston Public Library, “While our circulation records prove that our patrons enjoy a great deal of variety in their reading, this summer a majority of our high-circulating items for adults are newly released thrillers.” He cited Stuart Woods’ “Loitering With Intent” as the single volume circulating the most in his library, but noted that certain authors are highly popular, with a number of titles by each in high demand. Mysteries by Robert B. Parker, Janet Evanovich, and Mary Higgins Clark are all circulating steadily in Thomaston.
Becky Ames, director of the Simpson Memorial Library in Carmel, said, “Romance and suspense have always been popular at Simpson Memorial Library. I believe more people are reading as a way to escape the pressure of the economy and stress. I am seeing an increased interest in Westerns,” in particular, “Robert B. Parker’s Westerns, possibly due to his book ‘Appaloosa’ being made into a movie.”
Donna Rasche, director of the Brewer Public Library, sees another movie tie-in as increasing the demand for a particular book. “We have been unable to keep any Jodi Picoult book in the library for more than a couple of hours,” Rasche said. “She has always been a local favorite, but with the release of ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ in the theaters, she has become even more popular.”
Ames sees the issue-oriented nature of Picoult’s “My Sister’s Keeper” as key. In the book, the parents have one daughter who has cancer and then have another child for the sole purpose of serving as a lifesaving donor. “Jodi Picoult tackles some very sensitive public topics in this book that make for a wonderful book discussion,” Ames said.
Christine Erickson, young adult librarian at the Bangor Public Library, said young people are turning to “fantasy, adventure, romance and tearjerkers, good summer reading in my opinion. The books that are flying off the shelves are the four ‘Twilight’ series books by Stephanie Meyer.” Rasche agreed, adding, “Not only teen girls, but young men, parents and grandparents are reading this series.”
Ames agreed that the “Twilight” series is a hit with teens, and cited “The Mortal Instruments Series” by Cassandrea Clare and James Patterson’s series “Maximum Ride” as additional series that she can’t keep on the shelves. “Stories of adventure, romance; books that tingle the nerves and have moral issues seem to be of interest to young people. I think young people are exploring their world and trying to make sense of it and where they stand on some of the moral issues,” Ames explained.
Erickson said, “Fantasy is the most favored genre and fantasy series rule the roost. The ‘Warriors’ series by Erin Hunter and the ‘Ranger’s Apprentice’ series by John Flanagan are quite popular with younger young adults and Garth Nix’s ‘The Old Kingdom’ series for older teens.”
Sylvester spoke for many when he noted that some books for early readers, such as those about “The Berenstein Bears” and books by Dr. Seuss, “remain ever popular” with that age group. Ames agreed, “The rhymes of Dr. Seuss are timeless and make it easy for beginner readers to enjoy the story.”
Maine librarians point to some good books to read before the summer is through:
“Still Alice” by Lisa Genova (Pocket, $15). “This amazing book will inform you, scare you and change you forever. How many books can deliver that? Genova is a master story weaver who presents a realistic portrait of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.” — Donna Rasche, library director, Brewer Public Library
For young adults:
“Along for the Ride” by Sarah Dessen (Viking Juvenile, $19.99). “This book follows a group of teens through their last summer before college. Dessen is always enjoyable, controversial and spot-on with teens.” — Donna Rasche, library director, Brewer Public Library
For early readers:
“The End” by David LaRochelle (Arthur A. Levine Books, $16.99). “A delightful book about a knight and a princess falling in love. The book starts at the end of the story. A good group-read book as the storyline is easy to convey, has one sentence per page, and the word ‘because’ is repeated throughout the story allowing children to participate in ‘reading’ the book.” — Becky Ames, director, Simpson Memorial Library, Carmel