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Posted July 30, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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From mysteries to classics, books beckon to be taken on vacation

favorite books
A stack of current favorites to take to the beach is on display at the Royal Oak Bookshop in Front Royal. Dennis Grundman/Daily

Catherine Dawson reading
Catherine Dawson, 13, of Front Royal, spends some summer reading time with Harry Potter and Willa the cat at the Royal Oak Bookshop. Dennis Grundman/Daily

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By Josette Keelor -- jkeelor@nvdaily.com

You've been dreaming of white beaches, the surf crashing along the shore, children building sand castles around you ... and the perfect novel in hand. Even if you spend your free time reading year-round, there's just something about sitting on a beach with a great story.

Whether a spooky mystery will fit the bill, or a romance set on a tropical isle, new options at local bookstores and libraries are ready and waiting, begging to tag along to your summer destination.

Why do people like to sit on the sand and read?

"I think you feel more relaxed and, well, there's not a lot to do just sitting on the beach," says Rosalie Updike, an employee at Royal Oak Bookshop in Front Royal.

"That's how I relax, just by reading," says Denise Andrews, who works at The Book Shelf in Winchester.

People also tend to save the fun reading for their summer vacation to aid in their feeling of getting away from it all.

A lot of people pick an easy read, just to have something to read, Andrews says.

They don't have to think too much, she says, but they are still reading, which, for avid book fans, is necessary for their daily rituals.

Some popular choices for adult summer reading are anything by Nora Roberts, Agatha Christie, Debbie MaComber, John Grisham and Jeffrey Deaver.

The sorts of books "people always pick up, depending on their taste, [are] just a bagful of romances, mysteries or novels," Updike says.

One book she mentions fills the quota for all three of those genres.

"There's a new book out; it's sold pretty well," Updike says of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," written by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith and published by Quirk Classics.

The book, which maintains most of Austen's original text from "Pride and Prejudice," alters the story line almost completely by adding in the living dead around every turn and a plot that deals with rampant death and destruction surrounding the comparatively petty everyday lives of the Bennet family and their neighbors.

For a much more down-to-earth read, local books stores offer novels by author Emilie Richards, who writes about the Shenandoah Valley. She has been especially popular in the region, Updike says. Her latest paperback is "Sister's Choice."

For children, top this summer are the "Twilight" series, by Stephenie Meyer, and the later books in the "Harry Potter" series, by J.K. Rowling, though these books can be popular with all ages.

For those unsure of which books to bring with them on vacation, the Internet offers a list of titles for every genre.

Options high on the list for children are "Where the Wild Things Are," by Maurice Sendak, "Dead as a Doornail," by Charlaine Harris, and "The Jungle Book," by Rudyard Kipling, according to www.beachreads.com.

The Web site www.goodreads.com compiled a list of the top 100 summer reading books its members plan to read this season. With Rowling and Meyer holding the first few spots, the list quickly turns to "To Kill a Mockingbird," by Harper Lee; "Angels & Demons," by Dan Brown; "The Kite Runner," by Khaled Hosseini; and even the original "Pride and Prejudice," by Jane Austen.

Those looking for a challenge might choose some books from the 100 Greatest Novels of All Time, found at www.randomhouse.com. The list mentions such books as "Brave New World," by Aldous Huxley; "The Grapes of Wrath," by John Steinbeck; "The Great Gatsby," by F. Scott Fitzgerald; and "Animal Farm," by George Orwell.

Any book, though, old or new will take the reader far beyond the beach destination and into the larger world of the imagination.

There's no clear-cut "beach" book, Updike and Andrews say.

"It's just a little bit of everything," Andrews says. "It's just what people like to read."

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