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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 17, 2009

Escapist themes winning readers in tough economy

By Carol Memmott
USA Today

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Booksellers say action novels and fantasy themes vampires! are likely to sell well this summer.

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Barnes and Noble

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Barnes and Noble

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Ask booksellers what books are hot this summer, and they cite fare that should appeal to readers in a tough economy.

Action novels from favorites like Clive Cussler ("Medusa," June 2), Dean Koontz ("Relentless," June 9) and Lee Child ("Gone Tomorrow," May 19) as well as women's family dramas from Elin Hilderbrand ("The Castaways," July 7), Luanne Rice ("The Deep Blue Sea for Beginners," Aug. 4) and Jane Green ("Dune Road," June 16) are likely to attract buyers, they say.

Some of the most talked-about books of the season star vampires: "The Strain" (June 2) by Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth") and Chuck Hogan, and "Dead and Gone" (in stores), in the Sookie Stackhouse series.

More anticipated fiction:

"South of Broad" by Pat Conroy (Aug. 11), about a group of friends in Charleston, S.C. "It's the one everyone's talking about," said Barnes & Noble's Bob Wietrak. "It's his first novel in 14 years, and we're thrilled."

"The Angel's Game" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (June 16), a prequel to 2004's gothic "The Shadow of the Wind." "One of my personal favorites," said Borders' Kathryn Popoff.

"The Girl Who Played With Fire" by Swedish author Stieg Larsson (July 28), the follow to last year's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" starring genius hacker Lisbeth Salander. "Everyone says it's better than the first one, and the first was pretty stunning," said Karen Corvello of R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn.

Booksellers say several debut novels look promising: "The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane" by Katherine Howe (June 9), about a contemporary woman whose ancestor was arrested during the Salem witch trials; and "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" by Alan Bradley (in stores), a mystery starring a precocious 11-year-old.

Nonfiction titles with bookseller backing:

"Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan" by Doug Stanton (in stores), about a secret mission undertaken against the Taliban by Special Forces soldiers.

"My Remarkable Journey" by Larry King (May 19), the "definitive autobiography" of the CNN talk show host.

"Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal" by Julie Metz (June 9), about a young widow who discovers her husband's adultery.