Summer of love- and books

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The Spectrum

Once final exams have been taken, final papers handed in, and the stress of the semester has become a memory, the sacred ritual of summer reading can begin.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that readers of serious and fluff books alike see the summer months as an ideal opportunity to sit back, relax, and lose themselves in a good yarn. This summer is no exception, with a wide variety of new fiction and nonfiction titles available for reading pleasure.

It's no secret that women and girls from ages thirteen to ninety have become obsessed across the board with Twilight. Fans of the vampire saga and vampire stories in general, have much to choose from this summer in the new fiction section. Stephanie Meyer, author of the enormously successful Twilight series, is back with a companion volume to the series, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: an Eclipse Novella. The novella tells the story of a character Meyer first introduced in the third volume of her series, and is sure to be an instant success.

Charlaine Harris, also a contemporary author of vampire fiction, has also gained much success in recent years for her vampire narratives. Her series of Sookie Stackhouse novels are the basis for the hit HBO show True Blood, starring Anna Paquin. This summer, Harris and Sookie return with the tenth installment in the series, Dead in the Family: a Sookie Stackhouse Novel.

The Swedish author Stieg Larsson has gained a considerable posthumous reputation in the United States since his 2004 death. Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, a triad of thrillers featuring heroine Lisbeth Salander, will finally see its conclusion reach the U.S. this summer, with the English publication of the author's final novel The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

Those seeking the simpler, fluffier, novels and narratives that have come to be affectionately dubbed "beach books" have a reason to lie in the sun a little longer this summer with author Emily Giffin's latest, Heart of the Matter. While a bit more serious than her earlier works, old fans and new readers of the author alike should flock to it.

For those readers with special regard for history and works of nonfiction, author Nathaniel Philbrick is back with a brand new true tale. Philbrick, who has in the past written engaging historical accounts of American myths such as the Mayflower and Moby Dick, has left no stone unturned with his newest book, The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

For the intellectual who loves to hate contemporary culture, Chuck Palahniuk has a treat for them. Palahniuk has made a reputation for himself in his novels that shake society's foundations to the core, and Tell-All is no exception. Brutally poking fun at the culture of Hollywood and the celebrity, the author's latest will no doubt have his many fans scrambling to tear it off the shelves.

Mom, Grandma, and anyone else with old-school, traditional down-home American values have something to pore over during lunch breaks at the poolside, and on their beach towels this summer.

Former First Lady Laura Bush has written her memoir, Spoken from the Heart, the journey of an ordinary girl from Texas who incidentally and accidentally became a librarian, and the wife of the Texas governor who became President of the United States. Mrs. Bush's chronicle of her story will doubtlessly be equal parts amusing, heartbreaking, inspiring, and above all, American.

After a grueling semester of academic texts and paperwork, no summer reading experience would be complete without a legal thriller. Richard North Patterson is a veteran of the genre whose new book, In the Name of Honor should keep the reader riveted and the pages turning so fast readers will only pause to avoid getting a sunburn.

Hollywood heiress, turned prime time 90210 vixen, turned reality TV star, Tori Spelling has been a modern day Renaissance woman of the shallow and superficial in life. Her latest entrepreneurial endeavor, writing, has also bought her success. Her series of autobiographies continues this summer with her newest installment, Uncharted TerriTORI.

Spelling meanders on the trials and tribulations of being rich, married, and hardworking will surely rivet her many readers and fans, or at least provide a lighthearted escape for a scorching summer afternoon.

The academics and intellectuals of the world not wanting to lose themselves in conventional summer silliness have no reason to despair over this summer's literary offerings. Martin Amis, one of the most intellectual and renowned authors at work today, has a new offering for his devoted followers and those wanting to discover his many talents. The Pregnant Widow, his latest, revisits themes from his earlier work and provides an audience for a whole new generation to discover his diverse talents.

Several other literary authors also have new works being released this summer, among them Ian McEwan Bret Easton Ellis, John Banville and Peter Carey.

As the semester winds down and the stress from school withers away, it is a comfort to have a variety of exciting new books for readers to enjoy. Hopefully, this will be a season for finding new favorite books, and that is rewarding and relaxing for readers of all ages.

E-mail: features@ubspectrum.com