But enough about the business. Let's talk about the books.
As PW suggested last week—and as our senior editor Dermot McEvoy followed up brilliantly on NPR right after—summer reading no longer means guilty pleasure romance novels or quickie detective stories; by the looks of the lists, we are entering a very political summer. Titles like Collateral Damage: America's War Against Iraqi Civilians (Nation Books) vie with, say, The Case Against Barack Obama (Regnery). There's something for everyone in this genre and, just FYI, at the top of my most-anticipated list are David Iglesias's In Justice: An Insider's Account of the War on Law and Truth in the Executive Branch (Wiley) and The Pornography of Power by Robert Scheer (Twelve).
But who am I kidding? When I think of summer reading, I still think fiction or memoir—which makes me boringly typical of my demographic: college-educated working women of a certain age buy more novels than any other group. Men traditionally buy nonfiction if they buy anything at all, of course; and what men in their 20s and 30s buy is an even bigger mystery, though I had some insight into this last week at a Borders in Chicago. Of the 250 people lining up to get books signed by the comedian Lewis Black, I'd estimate that 80% were 20- to 30-something males, “just the demographic that every publisher wants,” a rival editor opined. And I predict that plenty of men will keep buying thousands of copies of the late Tim Russert's memoirs, assuming that Hyperion can keep up with the demand; as of this writing, the paperback of Big Russ and Me was #1 on Amazon and had sold, according to Nielsen BookScan, 5,000 copies for the week ending June 15, just two days after he died, while his Wisdom of Our Fathers (Random House) returns this week to our trade paper list, at #9.
What will we women fictionistas read? My totally nonscientific survey, based on interviews with friends in and out of the business, suggests that they'll pick up Ethan Canin's novel, America, America, for example, or the new (in paper) Marianne Wiggins. A particularly brainy friend is dying to get hold of Rose Tremain's The Road Home. As for me, my summer pile is already towering, with novels both forthcoming—David Ebershoff's The 19th Wife, Philip Roth's Indignation and David Wroblewski's The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, as well as backlist. (Prague by Arthur Phillips is on the Sony Reader.) On one recent insomniacal 100-degree night, I also read some wonderful stories from 2002—Babe in Paradise by Marisa Silver—and paid a visit to The Film Club, David Gilmour's brand-new father-son memoir, though I'm not sure I'll go back.
In other words, I've been on a binge, even if I'm probably not going to get through Ulysses for the second time (I never made it through on the first), like somebody here I could name. My habit might not be as powerful as the one David Carr chronicles in his The Night of the Gun (another likely must-read for midlifers of both sexes), but fiction can be an addiction nonetheless. Luckily, it's one that can't kill you and that you never have to give up—and, even better, one that's in endless supply.
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