NEW YORK (AP) – Nobody wants to read Dostoevski on the beach. But a trashy novel about husband-seeking socialites in New York? Now that’s another story.

As the summer heats up, booksellers and publishers say a slew of books – from Plum Sykes’ “Bergdorf Blondes” to Bill Clinton’s memoirs – will be sandy and smeared with Coppertone come fall.

“People are traveling, they’re on vacation, they want something fun to read to take to the beach,” said Jenie Dahlmann, a spokeswoman for Borders Group, the parent company of Borders Books & Music and Waldenbooks.

She cited “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” (Little, Brown), the fifth book of essays by David Sedaris, as a top seller. Borders also expects new author Robert Kurson to break out with his nonfiction book, “Shadow Divers” (Random House), about two divers who found a sunken Nazi ship off the New Jersey coast.

“There are fewer major books by well-known authors in the summer than in the fall or the late winter, but it’s also a time when people catch up on those books that they have eyed covetously,” said Stuart Applebaum, a spokesman for Random House Inc.

Among the books he cited as the season’s must-reads is “My Life” (Alfred A. Knopf), Clinton’s memoirs. And at a hefty 957 pages, the book is indeed what Applebaum calls a “summer reading mission.” Despite discouraging reviews, “My Life” is expected to sell briskly. The book already has 2.25 million copies in print.

Two books that already have been best sellers are expected to have continued success over the summer: “The Da Vinci Code” (Doubleday) by Dan Brown, dissects the origins of Jesus Christ and disputes long-held beliefs about Catholicism, while “The Rule of Four” (Dial) by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason, follows two Princeton University students who try to solve the riddle of a fantastical love story published in 1499 and written in multiple languages.

Chick-lit, always a mainstay of summer reading lists, also is proving popular, said Sessalee Hensley, fiction buyer for bookseller Barnes & Noble. She said customers want summer books to be “fun, light – pick it up and you don’t have to think about it too much.”

“Summer is a great sales season,” Hensley said. “And new authors can kind of get a break, because nobody wants to be published in the summer.”

And why’s that? “Because they don’t want to be labeled as beach reads,” she said.

AP-ES-06-23-04 1521EDT



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