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Reading Room: Introducing the NBCBLK Summer Book Club

What makes for the perfect summer read?

Is it a romance novel filled with passion and dreams of happily ever after? A mystery, awash with scandal and intrigue? Or perhaps, a biography so absorbing that it practically breathes life into the human soul whose story is being told? Maybe it’s a history tome with gripping details from the past, or a photography book with images so compelling that one simply cannot look away.

Indeed, a summer read doesn’t have to fit into strict categories, notes Ebony LaDelle, a senior marketing manager at HarperCollins Publishers.

“A `summer read’ is technically a beach read, a book that's light and fun. But I think now, with the political climate the way it is, a summer read is just—a good read,” said LaDelle, who also edits her own literary newsletter called Coloring Books.

“Right now, great stories that are real and honest are what people want to read and learn about. And it shows even with some of the books hitting the bestseller's list,” she added. “There are immigrant stories, books about feminism, the Black Lives Matter movement and more.”

Related: BLK Summer Book Club: ‘New People’ by Danzy Senna

Data from the Association of American Publishers (AAP) shows that book and journal publishing is about a $28 billion industry.

According to the Pew Research Center, Americans read an average of 12 books per year. In a 2016 survey, some 73 percent of respondents in the U.S. reported that they had read at least one book last year.

Women are more likely than men to read books; however, both men and women are equally likely to read digital-format books such as e-books and audio books.

While readers today have digital options, print books remain substantially more popular than either e-books or audio books. Roughly two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) read a print book last year; by contrast, 28 percent of people read an e-Book and 14 percent listened to an audio book.

Related: The ‘Green Book’ Was a Travel Guide Just for Black Motorists

In 2016, print books saw growth, according to the AAP; for the second consecutive year publisher revenues from e-Book sales declined and downloaded audio grew.

“There is an appetite for reading. …and the written word is still most popular,” said LaDelle, who adds that book clubs remain widespread, with “a growing number popping up online.”

Against this backdrop, NBCBLK is launching its inaugural Summer Book Club. We’ll chat with best-selling authors and new writers; share recommended titles; explore various genres and more. Call it a book lovers’ revolution.

The best part: readers have ample choice. “People like to have options,” said LaDelle, “physical books by their bedside and books on their phone or iPad.”

To which we simply say, “Read on!”

Tweet us your summer reads with #BLKBookClub and we will share a roundup of reader's picks at the end of the summer.

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