The final installment of the Harry Potter series isn't out until mid-July, but you don't have to go bookless to the beach until then. There is a tidal wave of new titles out there just perfect for relaxing in the sun.
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" (Scholastic, Inc.), by J.K. Rowling, is the highly anticipated seventh installment about the adventures of the schoolboy wizard. Rowling previously has said that two characters die in the final book. The Potter books have sold more than 325 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 64 languages. Booksellers are expecting crushing sales for the July 21 release.
"It's a no-brainer. It's obviously going to be the biggest title this summer," said Ann Binkley, spokeswoman for Borders Inc.
But Harry and friends aren't the only hot topics this season.
Pirates are also in this summer, with "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" out in theaters. There are several new books on pirates as well as the usual crop of thrillers and romances.
Among the new titles are:
- Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws' Bloody Reign (Crown), by Stephan Talty. The book tells the tale of the famed Henry Morgan and his exploits in the Caribbean in the service of the English. His attacks on the Spanish Empire on land and at sea determined the fates of kings and queens, and his victories helped shape the destiny of the New World.
- The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down (Harcourt), by Colin Woodard. This is about the "Flying Gang" and the brief period when a number of famous pirate captains such as Blackbeard joined forces and the pirate republic was enormously successful. At its height, the "gang" cut off trade routes, sacked slave ships, and severed Britain, France and Spain from their New World empires.
- Last Flag Down by John Baldwin and Ron Powers, deals with the Shenandoah, the last ship to lower its flag during the Confederacy. The vessel was manned by Conway Whittle. After months at sea, Whittle learns that the Civil War he and his crew thought they were fighting had ended four months earlier and they were now considered pirates.
- Evening (Vintage), by Susan Minot. This novel has been out since 1999, but a new film starring Vanessa Redgrave and Meryl Streep has boosted sales again.
- The Sleeping Beauty Proposal(The Penguin Group USA) by Sarah Strohmeyer. Genie Michaels is a woman who always thought she needed marriage to make her happy — until her boyfriend proposes to another woman on national television.
- The Entitled (Sourcebooks) by sportswriter and NPR commentator Frank Deford. This tale is about the boys of summer in the modern era. Protagonist Howie has finally been given a shot to manage in the big leagues, but America's pastime has changed. Whether this coach can spot a small flaw in a batter's swing won't matter if he can't manage megastar players.
- Tales from Q School: Inside Golf's Fifth Major (Little, Brown) by John Feinstein. "He's got a strong fan base, and he does these kinds of books really well," Binkley, the Borders representative, said.
- Loving Frank (Ballantine Books) by Nancy Horan. A fictional account of a love affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney, this title is poised for big summer sales, booksellers said. "It's just really well done and extremely well written," Binkley said.
- Killer Weekend (Putnam) by Ridley Pearson. The first of a new series, this novel is set in Sun Valley, Idaho, and deals with efforts to thwart the assassination of a woman candidate for president.
- The Blood of Flowers (Little, Brown), by Anita Amirrezvani. This is a tale of a 17th-century young Persian woman who makes her way with her mother from their village to a rich uncle's house in the city of Isfahan. "It's mesmerizing," Binkley said.
- The Buenos Aires Broken Hearts Club (5 Spot/Warner Books). Jessica Morrison's debut novel deals with the famed Argentine city and revolves around the experiences of a young woman getting her so-called perfect life back on track.
- The Lost Diary of Don Juan (Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group), by Dough Adams. This is a fictional story about a book editor who discovers the real-life diary of the world's most famous lover, written in Seville in 1593 and hidden until now.
- Secrets of a Former Fat Girl: How to Drop Two, Four (or More!) Dress Sizes and Find Yourself Along the Way (Hudson Street Press) by Lisa Delaney. If you're eager to shed a few pounds before donning the bathing suit, this may be something to pick up. The book is about the author's secret to weight-loss success and how she kept it off for more than a decade.
- Einstein: His Life and Universe (Simon & Schuster) by Walter Isaacson. This is already a best seller, as is George Tenet's At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA.
"A great summer beach read is a book that is a thriller, great compelling story that you don't want to put down, even to reach for the sunscreen," Binkley said.
By Colleen Long