Editor's note: A correction was made to this story on May 20, 2008.
Usually each summer, my pile of "to-reads" grows as I add tons of new mystery, romance, literary and fantasy titles good "beach" reads. When reviewing the upcoming releases, however, I was struck by the variety of genres hitting the shelves this season.
What follows is just a small selection of intriguing books you'll find in stores soon (plus one already out).
Going Dutch in Beijing
Henry Holt and Co., $22/hardcover
For anyone planning a trip abroad, the best place to start is with a book that was released in April. Mark McCrum wrote Going Dutch in Beijing to teach you "how to behave when far away from home." Whether you're unsure if bare feet are OK in China (a big no-no) or wondering whether to choose fingers or fork in Finland (fork for everything), this guide will give you all the tips to make sure you don't embarrass yourself.
To download:Going Dutch in Beijing: How to Behave Properly When Far Away from Home
Dyer Consequences: A Knitting Mystery
Release date: June 3
Three years ago, Colorado author Maggie Sefton found a niche mixing knitting and mystery in Knit One, Kill Two. Four books later, Dyer Consequences features the return of amateur sleuth Kelly Flynn and her House of Lambspun shop buddies as they stitch together the pieces of a murder. Make a glass of lemonade, find a porch swing and cozy up to this cozy. Knitters will especially enjoy the pattern included in each book.
To download: Dyer Consequences: A Knitting Mystery
When You Are Engulfed in Flames
Little, Brown & Co., $25.99/hardcover
Release date: June 3
David Sedaris' sixth collection of essays is one of the most highly anticipated books this summer. The author often heard on National Public Radio has an uncanny ability to laugh at himself while encouraging others to laugh along. In this book, he travels across the globe, hitting North Carolina, France and Tokyo. Oh, and mark the calendar the man himself is scheduled to visit Denver's Tattered Cover June 22.
To download: When You Are Engulfed in Flames
Me of Little Faith
Release date: June 3
Lewis Black, New York Times bestselling author and Comedy Central Daily Show regular, takes an introspective look at religion in Me of Little Faith. A Hebrew school survivor, Black has addressed everything on stage, from the Republican Party to his liberal family. Here he shares his experiences with rabbis, gurus and Mormons, to name just a few, in the typical outrageous Black style.
To download: Me of Little Faith
The Beach House
Release date: June 17
Jane Green's first novel, Jemima J, still rates as one of my favorite "chick lit" novels of all time. Eight years later, Green releases her 10th book, The Beach House. The main character is a 65-year-old Nantucket woman who must change the way she's living her life. Green's skill shines when writing about real women with real problems, and this is likely to be another hit for her.
To download: The Beach House
Graphic novel / Children ages 9-12
Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell
Release date: June 24
If you're familiar with Neil Gaiman's Coraline, this version adds the illustrations of Ohio artist P. Craig Russell to make a creepy story even more creepy. It's a tale of a little girl and her alternate world that both adults and children can enjoy at bedtime or while waiting for the 2009 film adaptation to roll around. Just leave the nightlight on.
Thriller / Science fiction
The Dangerous Days of Daniel X
James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
Little, Brown & Co., $19.99/hardcover
Release date: July 21
James Patterson's credentials alone should make you want to read his newest novel. An author with 39 New York Times bestsellers, Patterson was responsible for one out of every 15 hardcovers sold in 2007. The Dangerous Days of Daniel X is Patterson's first foray into science fiction, with a tale of an alien hunter who must protect the Earth.
To download: The Dangerous Days of Daniel X
Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $24/hardcover
Release date: Aug. 19
Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Thomas Friedman attacks the world as it is today in Hot, Flat, and Crowded. This book is for all who are concerned about the state of America, particularly in regards to energy competition, climate change and technology. Friedman addresses the direction in which we must move or even better, lead in order to survive.
To download: Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America