What Books are Hot in Hudson County?
by Tom Dwyer
From chilly spy thrillers to sultry romance novels to warm and fuzzy children’s books, a great summer read is always a real cool thing. And this summer, Hudson County residents of all ages are discovering both new and old favorite books that will entertain, educate and even transport them to faraway places and times. It’s probably no surprise that Hudson County Executive, Tom DeGise, has a love for political history. Right now, he’s immersed in the best-seller “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin, about the inner workings of Lincoln’s cabinet. And he just finished “Bookends” by rock and roll disc jockey, Pete Fornatale, which describes the story of what DeGise calls “one of my all time favorite albums by Simon and Garfunkel.” Next up on his book list, the highly acclaimed memoir “The Tender Bar.” Here’s what other Hudson County book lovers are up to…
Hudson County is home to about a dozen bookstores – from the big chains to a few independents, like Unique Books in Bayonne, and Symposia in Hoboken. Unique Books has been in business for four years and owner, Leonard Janes, says he’s selling a lot of copies of the Bobby Murcer autobiography, “Yankee for Life”. But it’s the series of fantasy books for young adults that are flying off his shelves. “The teens are coming in and buying the Pendragon Series and the Twilight Series. These are our bestsellers of the summer and I can’t reorder these teen books fast enough,” Janes says.
Symposia, located on Washington Street in Hoboken, is not your typical bookstore as it’s non-profit, supplied by book donations which are then resold, and run by volunteers. “It’s a real center of activity for many people in the community,” says owner Corneliu Rusu. They run puppet shows for children and hold dozens of local events. And as for books, this summer their clientele is buying lots of fiction, biography, and history. A big fan of Symposia is Hoboken Mayor Dave Roberts who not only is a customer, he’s their landlord. “He gives us a nice discount on the rent,” Rusu said. “Without that, we wouldn’t be able to stay open.”
Barnes & Noble, also located on Washington Street in Hoboken, is a lively place with people drinking coffee and lounging on chairs reading books and magazines. Ken Quail, the merchandise manager, has seen good sales so far this summer. “Adult top fiction sellers are “Dangerous Days of Daniel X” by James Patterson, Nora Roberts’ “Tribute” and “Rules of Deception” by Christopher Reich.” The children’s section is also active with many youngsters coming into the store with their summer reading list from school. The top children’s books are perennial favorites. “To Kill a Mockingbird” and anything by Dr. Seuss is still hot,” Quail said.
But with the price of a new book almost as much as a tank of gas, this summer is the perfect time to re-visit your local public library. Susan Stewart, branch manager at the Jersey City Five Corners branch, has never seen so many children and adults visiting her library. “I think it might be that many people aren’t traveling this summer due to the economy and they are coming to the library as an alternative. Our children’s summer program is packed with children of all ages coming to explore their favorite books,” Stewart explained. In addition to young children coming to learn their ABCs, teens are flocking to the library. The girls, according to Stewart, are in love with the Stephanie Meyer’s books—The Twilight Series – while the boys are into the young adult fiction writer, Walter Dean Myers, a renowned author who lives in Jersey City. If you thought the library was a thing of the past, think again. The Jersey City libraries have changed with the times with full access online, and a new disabled accessible bookmobile. “It’s just great to watch the children and adults take advantage of the Jersey City library, and all it offers,” says Stewart.
Bayonne’s Free Public Library and Cultural Center is another vibrant organization that is meeting the changing needs of its residents. With thousands of visitors a year and two branches, readers don’t have to travel far to find that special book. Paula Micalizzi, the children’s librarian, runs the popular summer reading program with more than 100 children taking part. “The children get to pick whatever books they want to read. And they receive prizes when they finish a book,” she said. The children enjoy fantasy books, they still love Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl, and they’re reading a series called “Children of the Lamp”, which is very popular. Micalizzi says the children are learning to like to read, something that makes them and their librarian very happy. “The joy of them discovering a new book and the world it brings is just great to see.”
Local Book Lovers
Even adults with busy lives are still finding time to read a good book or two this summer. Susan from Jersey City, a producer for ABC News show, is reading an advance copy of a new health book that will be out in the fall, called “Spent” by Dr. Frank Lipman, “He has developed a six-week program to help restore body, mind and spirit, and I’m really finding it fascinating.”
Maureen, the owner of the Life is Good store in Hoboken is reading, “Grace (Eventually) Thoughts on Faith” by Anne Lamott. “It’s just wonderful and I just love her writing, so funny and spiritual at the same time.”
And my favorite summer read is “The Tender Bar” by J.R. Moehringer, a beautiful coming-of-age memoir that captures the true life experience of growing up without a father and being raised by uncles and friends who spend most of their time in a bar in Long Island. This book is a gem, and gives new meaning to “it takes a village.”
The Tender Bar www.amazon.com