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Summer Reading Heats Up

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By Samantha Lambert


A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.

– William Styron



When people are packing up for a vacation to the Emerald Coast, they include books for the beach. When locals are heading out to relax for a day on the beach, they pack a book in their bag. When traveling on a plane or in a car during the summer, people pack a book or two. Popular reads for the summer of 2018 are heating up.


According to The New York Times Bestsellers list for June in the Combined Print and E-Book Fiction category, top summer books include The Cast by Danielle Steel, The 17th Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank, The Fallen by David Baldacci, and The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.


Top nonfiction books include How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan, The Soul of America by Jon Meacham, A Higher Loyalty by James Comey, Zora Neale Hurston’s previously unpublished Barracoon, and Dave Itzkoff’s Robin Williams biography Robin.


Locally, at the Destin Library, interim director Kitti Capps says the Patterson/Paetro, Baldacci and Hannah books are among the most popular adult fiction titles, along with Lisa Scottoline’s After Anna. Top nonfiction books include Robert Hilburn’s Paul Simon, the Life and Ronan Farrow’s War on Peace.


“For young adults, the graphic novels are popular,” says Capps. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a graphic novel is a story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book. The Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi and Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce are very popular right now.


For children, the classics are still popular—Dr. Seuss, the Berenstain Bears, Curios George. Call the library at 850-837-8572 for more information about their Libraries Rock! summer reading program.


Fort Walton Beach Library manager Tricia Gould includes Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage (an Oprah Book Club selection) among the most in-demand titles, along with Educated by Tara Westover, Us Against You by Fredrik Backman, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, and Lisa Wingate’s follow-up to Beartown, Before We Were Yours. “Danielle Steel and Dorothea Benton Frank novels are also popular,” she says.


Gould also notes that graphic novels are popular with the library’s young adult patrons—titles based on Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead in particular.


A summer reading program for children is going on at the Fort Walton Beach Library, along with “Animal Tales” educational programs. A new media lab is open to the public, too. Call 850-833-9590 for more information.


Linda Thompson of the Walton County Coastal Branch Library says, “Many of the adult fiction and nonfiction novels that are listed on the New York Times bestseller list are popular here, including books by Dorothea Benton Frank, Danielle Steel, and James Patterson.” Other popular titles include When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi and Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere.


Young people are checking out Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One—the source material for Steven Spielberg’s recent film—and the Harry Potter series. For early readers, the Billie B Brown and Hey Jack series—both by Sally Rippin—are in demand. The library has its own Libraries Rock! summer reading club every Monday in June at 10 AM. There is also a Young Writers Club for students in grades 3-8 Tuesdays at 1:30 PM in June and July. Call 850-267-2809 for more information.


In the words of Dr. Seuss, “You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax. All you need is a book.”

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