Monday, December 20, 2004


Romances, satires among 2004's most checked-out

December 19, 2004

This week, Judy Kamiat of Palm Beach County's West Boynton branch discusses the best books of 2004, advice on starting book groups and anticipated releases for next year.

Q. What books were popular at your branch this year?

A. As far as our biggest circulations, London Bridges by James Patterson, Night Fall by Nelson DeMille and The Plot Against America: A Novel by Philip Roth were popular. We're also doing quite well with The Godfather Returns by Mark Winegardner. Danielle Steel has had about three to four titles out this year. Her new book, Echoes, has gotten better reviews than she usually gets.

Q. What's different about it?

A. It's set in World War II and has a more serious storyline. Patrons who read her will like anything by Nora Roberts. She has a new book called Northern Lights.

Florida's own Carl Hiaasen's Skinny Dip has done well. He's interesting. For some reason, his previous books circulated, but not big. This book was a July release and we still have a waiting list for it. It's hilarious. He pokes fun at all the pompous politicians and then he has characters that couldn't be any stranger. I heard him speak at the book fair and he said he takes it from personal experience. Even the premise of the book, being saved by a floating bale of marijuana, is not that unusual here. He even has one character who's a drug addict who goes into nursing homes and steals the pain patches and that actually did happen here. It was a light enjoyable read.

We also had a book called The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. It deals with an ancient manuscript that has a code. It was on the bestseller list for a while but I don't think it had the same kind of potboiler excitement that The Da Vinci Code had.

Q. It caused quite a stir. What did you think of it?

A. I thought it was very thought provoking. It's still on the bestseller list. It touches something with people. If you wanted to read it strictly from a thriller point of view, it was a page-turner. I was fascinated by all of the different issues it brought up. Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a book group?

A. You have to get a list of books and throw the idea out there. The best book groups are when the people involved have some say of what's being read. Let people pick and choose. You can do a theme party from your home. You find your own niche, a group of people -- not necessarily similar in background -- and people who like to read. I'm Jewish and we had some Catholic women in a group I did and having people of different religions made it interesting. I don't want to hear someone regurgitating what I think. I want a different viewpoint. So, you get into arguments and it's very refreshing.

What we've found around here is that a lot of the individual developments form book groups as part of their activities. I don't know of too many that meet [at the library] but I know of a lot in the Boca area.

Q. What kind of books do you enjoy reading?

A. I have eclectic tastes. I don't like big sagas, maybe if it's a good one. But I do like mysteries. There are cooking mysteries, cleaning mysteries -- all kinds of mysteries so that you can pick. I'm not a huge reader of nonfiction. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America the Book: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction was popular, so you'll see what the political bent of our patrons is. Maureen Dowd's Bushworld: Enter at Your Own Risk, Bill Clinton's My Life and Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack had huge numbers are far as circulation. There's still a long waiting list for Clinton's book. We've also has a lot of success for George Carlin's When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?

Q. What's on the literary horizon for next year?

A. Steve Martini is coming out with a book called Double Tap. In January, Barbara Taylor Bradford releases Unexpected Blessings, a sequel to the bestseller she had last year called Emma's Secret. The Good Guys by Joe Pistone, Bill Bonanno and David Fisher is getting a lot of buzz.

Q. Joe Pistone? That the guy actor Johnny Depp portrayed in the move Donnie Brasco, right?

A. Yes, it's received a lot of pre-publication publicity, as did State of Fear by Michael Crichton. It's about how information is manipulated in the modern world.

Copyright © 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Romances, satires among 2004's most checked-out: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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