Let's start with news about the Bee Book Club: Women's-fiction and romance writer Susan Elizabeth Phillips will headline the BBC at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, 828 I St., Sacramento. Her new title is "The Great Escape" (William Morrow, $25.99, 432 pages).
As usual, the event is free and open to everyone.
Next up will be mystery-thriller novelist Laura Lippman, best known for her 11-title Tess Monaghan series. Like her Baltimore-based private-eye heroine, Lippman is a former newspaper reporter. Her novels have won most of mystery fiction's major awards, including the Edgar and Agatha.
The New York Times best-selling author has also written numerous short stories that have appeared in mystery anthologies, and seven non-series novels.
The stand-alone "And When She Was Good" (William Morrow, $26.99, 320 pages) is the Bee Book Club's choice for August. It's the spinoff of a short story about a suburban single mom who leads a double life as owner of an escort service, until murderous evil comes knocking.
Lippman will appear at 6 p.m. at the Library Galleria on Aug. 16.
Rounding out this year's BBC program will be Adam Johnson for "The Orphan Master's Son" (Sept. 6) and chef Brian Streeter for "Cakebread Cellars American Harvest Cookbook" (Nov. 1).
For more information: (916) 321-1128.
Afraid to go into the water? Read on ...
Peter Benchley's novel "Jaws" and Steven Spielberg's 1975 blockbuster movie adaptation of it reminded the world of our primal fear of sharks and other predators.
In case those chills have faded, the Discovery Channel's 25th anniversary of "Shark Week" debuts Aug. 12 just when we thought it was safe to go back into the water.
But why wait for TV? The print companion to the remarkable series is on sale now. "The Big Book of Sharks" is a fascinating look at all things sharks from a list of the deadliest species to conservation programs in place to protect them (Time Home Entertainment, $14.95, 128 pages). The text is entertaining and informative; the 125 color photographs are startling. Bonus: five "extreme posters" are included.
For a shark's-eye view, we talked with marine biologist Andy Dehart, the Discovery Channel's shark adviser. His job is to "ensure the contents in 'Shark Week' programming and 'The Big Book of Sharks' is accurate."
What's the best thing about sharks?
As the top predator, sharks are critical to (oceans') balance and health. Everything in the oceans is connected. A study in North Carolina correlated the decrease in large coastal sharks to a dramatic increase in stingrays. These stingrays then decimated the bay scallops, causing ecosystem damage and loss to the commercial fishermen.
Are sharks becoming endangered?
Not every species of shark is threatened or endangered, but a large number of the larger coastal sharks are. Sharks are being fished at a rate of nearly 73 million per year worldwide. In the North Atlantic, almost every species of shark has had its population depleted by more than 50 percent in just the last 30 years. Some populations, like hammerhead sharks, have declined by over 90 percent in that same time.
Generally, there's a lot of apathy over the shark crisis.
In part, that is due to the view we humans have of the oceans as vast and bountiful. Many people have an innate fear of sharks as animals that have bitten and sometime killed people. This plays on the innate human fear of the unknown and the animal that lives below us in the deep waters that we cannot see. "Shark Week" and (the nation's) public aquariums are helping provide a new perception of sharks.
What important things should we know?
One of the biggest misconceptions is that sharks are mindless eating machines, when in reality they are neither. Sharks are far more intelligent that we give them credit for, (and have been) trained in certain behaviors in aquarium settings.
Also, they are not indiscriminate feeders. Each shark species has a very specific diet and they rarely stray from that. Humans are not on the menu of any shark species. When bites happen, it is likely the shark sees something that might be food and then bites to investigate. In most of these cases, the shark swims away (but the person) is typically left with significant injuries.
Recently, shark attacks have been in the news. Any advice for surfers and swimmers?
Shark attacks are often highlighted (during) slow news periods, despite the fact that shark-attack numbers have remained steady at less than 100 worldwide each year.
To avoid shark bites: Avoid swimming or surfing at dusk and dawn, peak feeding periods for sharks. Avoid swimming where there are a lot of smaller fish or seals and sea lions. Avoid swimming where people are fishing.
Two more reading lists from readers
What are you reading this summer?
Two more readers have shared their summer reading lists. Submit yours to firstname.lastname@example.org; please include your name, city of residence and daytime phone number.
"I just loaded my iPad with about 15 classics ('Huckleberry Finn' by Mark Twain, 'Catcher in the Rye' by J.D. Salinger), along with these (titles)," emailed Rob Kiddoo of Auburn. "They should keep me busy for a few weeks."
"Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?" by Steven Tyler
"Calico Joe" by John Grisham
"61 Hours" by Lee Child
"The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Steig Larsson
"My list consists of recent and pending releases for my e-reader, as well as paperbacks from the SPCA Book Sale held in May," emailed Edith Bennett of Sacramento.
"The Laughterhouse" by Paul Cleave
"The Prisoner of Heaven" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
"The Wind Through the Keyhole" by Stephen King
"Broken Harbor" by Tana French
"Criminal" by Karin Slaughter
"The Company Man" by Robert Jackson Bennett
"Citizen Vince" by Jess Walter
"Harbor" by John Ajvide Lindqvist
"Before I Go to Sleep" by S.J. Watson