'Harry Potter' expected to top summer reads

June 15, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

A boy wizard, a legendary racehorse, the Boston Red Sox, Hillary Clinton, Hagerstown trains and a Harvard professor entangled in a religious conspiracy are among the topics of fiction and nonfiction books expected to top Tri-State area reading lists this summer, local booksellers and librarians say.

The fifth book in British author J.K. Rowling's widely popular "Harry Potter" series, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," is the most anticipated read of the summer, says Ed Mitchell, general manager at Borders Books, Music & Cafe in Hagerstown.

The book is slated for release at midnight Saturday, June 21.

"This is going to be the best-selling book in the history of book selling," Mitchell says. "There hasn't ever been such an anticipated book release."


About 1,000 people have reserved the book at the local Borders, hundreds of customers at Waldenbooks in Chambersburg, Pa., have reserved copies, and about 1 million people have reserved the book through on the Web, local retailers say.

The Martinsburg-Berkeley County (W.Va.) Public Library has ordered multiple copies of the new "Harry Potter," and the list of library patrons waiting to read it grows daily, librarian Jane Leviton says.

She also expects Laura Hillenbrand's "Seabiscuit: An American Legend," the story of an unlikely champion racehorse, to rank high on summer reading lists. Now available in paperback, the "feel-good book of the last two years" is gaining even more momentum due to a new movie based on the book, Leviton says.

And for literary types, Yann Martel's "Life of Pi" and Sue Monk Kidd's "The Secret Life of Bees" are summer must-reads, the librarian says.

Fiction readers are scarfing up copies of "The Da Vinci Code," Dan Brown's intriguing novel about Harvard professor Robert Langdon's search for answers to a centuries-old mystery involving religious sects.

"That book is red hot. It's a great read for people who like conspiracy theories," says Mitchell, who also recommends Brown's "Angels & Demons."

Fans of mystery writer James Patterson are looking forward to the upcoming release of "Lake House," and strong sales also are anticipated for the July release of popular romance novelist Danielle Steel's newest book, "Johnny Angel," says Candy Tritle, assistant manager at Waldenbooks in Chambersburg.

Big summer sales are expected for Janet Evanovich's newest female detective novel, "Hard Eight," Hillary Clinton's new autobiography, "Living History," and David Halberstam's, "The Teammates," a nostalgic nonfiction book about four former Boston Red Sox players, Mitchell says.

He encourages book lovers to pick up a copy of British writer Jasper Fforde's inventive first novel, "The Eyre Affair," which Mitchell describes as "Monty Python meets Douglas Adams."

Barb Gibney, head of collection development at the Washington County Free Library, expects Barbara Delinsky's "Flirting with Pete," Clive Cussler's "White Death," Joyce Carol Oates' "The Tattooed Girl" and Dorothea Benton Frank's "Isle of Palms" to be hits with summer fiction readers. Nonfiction fans might enjoy Caroline Kennedy's "A Patriot's Handbook: Poems, Stories and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love," Simon Winchester's "Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded," Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" and Robert Dallek's "An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963," Gibney says.

Two relatively new diet books - "The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss" by Arthur Agatston and "Atkins for Life: The Complete Controlled Carb Program for Permanent Weight Loss and Good Health" by Robert C. Atkins - are expected to continue selling well into the summer, Tritle says.

Top-selling books of local interest include Mary Rubin's "Hagerstown: Railroading Around the Hub City," Pat Schooley's "Historic Homes of Washington County" and David Eicher's illustrated Civil War book, "The Gettysburg Battlefield," Mitchell says. He also suggests Jim Lehrer's "No Certain Rest," a murder mystery that is set around Antietam National Battlefield.

"It's a great mystery and history novel set in Washington County," Mitchell says.

For lists of national best sellers, visit the Publishers Weekly Web site at

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