(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON -- When Joyce Hagy took a trip to Panama City, Fla., she decided she wanted to tuck a copy of John Grisham's "The Firm" in her suitcase since that's where part of the book is set.
"I was on the beach reading the book and he (Grisham) was telling about places in Panama City," Hagy recalled. "So I decided to look for those places since I was there.
Hagy continued: "I went to Highway 98 or whatever he said in the book -- and the place wasn't there -- he'd just made it up," Hagy laughed.
Readers just like Hagy often find it rather easy to get engrossed in a good book. And with summer lurking around the corner, many area readers are looking for the perfect summer books to curl up to -- whether on the beach or at home.
"I would say those looking for summer reads are getting ready to go on vacation -- and if they're lucky enough they might be hitting a beach. But most are just wanting to get a good novel," said Hagy.
Hagy, owner of The Book Bug, said any political book seems to be hot this summer. Any thing you can find about the Clintons, she joked.
Light romance is popular, now, but mysteries are The Book Bug's No. 2 seller, Hagy said.
Most people like to read books in the summer for casual enjoyment, noted Mary Carr, assistant director at the Sikeston Public Library.
People have been asking about Hillary Clinton's new book and a novel called "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" by Alexander McCall Smith, said Carr. Mary Higgins Clark and Grisham are always favorite authors among readers, she noted.
"Harry Potter" books by J.K. Rowling and "Junie B., First Grader" books by Barbara Park are popular with children, said Carr, adding the fifth Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and Order of Phoenix," will be available in stores Saturday.
However, Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, announced a youngster's reading list earlier this week and among the selections she chose were: "The Cabin Faced West" by Jean Fritz and "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble" by William Steig for kindergarten through grade 3; "The Dreamkeeper and Other Poems" by Langston Hughes and "Little House on the Prairie" by Laura Ingalls Wilder for grades 4-6; "Johnny Tremain" by Esther Forbes and "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass" by Frederick Douglass for grades 7-8; and Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird" for students grades 9-12.
Cookbooks over grilling, books on home and gardening and children's books are the best-sellers at the Book Warehouse, according to manager Amy Carr.
And for the Christian book reader, "The Purpose-Driven Life" by Rick Warren is popular, noted Sue Sisco of Paul's Christian Bookstore, along with the "Left Behind" series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.
"'Armageddon' is the newest book of the 'Left Behind' series, and it came out last month. We really don't have one book that we are selling out of -- unlike last year. We couldn't keep the 'Prayer of Jabez' by Bruce Wilkinson on our shelves," Sisco said.
When celebrities like Winfrey and Kelly Ripa have book clubs, the Sikeston Library's Carr said the public wants to read the books they recommend.
"It's amazing. I had never heard of Kate White until Kelly Ripa recommended her (White's) book, 'If Looks Could Kill,' to her book club members," Mary Carr said.
In the summer, school teachers sometimes require students to read some of the classics, but other than that Hagy said she doesn't see too many customers inquiring about them.
Hagy said she thought with actor Gregory Peck recently dying, more customers would come in wanting a copy of "To Kill A Mockingbird," in which Peck starred in the film's version.
"We don't have a lot of people asking for classics, however Oprah's (Winfrey) book club is starting up again and she is going to be focusing on classic books only," Carr said.
Winfrey discontinued her book club last year, saying she did not have enough time to keep up with monthly selections. But she decided to relaunch it with a focus on the classics. On Wednesday, Winfrey recommended her viewers read John Steinbeck's "East of Eden."
''It's the perfect book for the summer, I guarantee it,'' said Winfrey, who read the book last summer. ''It's a saga. You will not be able to turn the pages fast enough.''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.