The biggest blockbuster of the fall won't be a movie, but a book - a book that will eventually be adapted into a movie.
"The Lost Symbol," Dan Brown's undoubtedly unputdownable sequel to "The Da Vinci Code," hits shelves Tuesday. The novel, which brings back bookish hero Tom Hanks - um, Robert Langdon - will have an initial print run of five million copies, the largest in publisher Random House's history.
Lee Booksellers, 5500 S. 56th St., is getting an especially sturdy stock of Brown's novel on Tuesday.
"The Lost Symbol," said store manager Kathy Magruder, is certainly one of the most anticipated of the year.
"This is Dan Brown, you know," she said. "People have been waiting for this for years."
Brown isn't the only writing superstar churning out words this season. Autumn brings with it a mile-high stack of new books, ranging from incendiary political polemics to breezy airplane thrillers to real, living, breathing literature.
"A Change in Altitude" by Anita Shreve (Sept. 22): A married couple move to Kenya for a year-long adventure. And then tragedy strikes during a trip to the mountains.
"The Murder of King Tut" by James Patterson (Sept. 28): In this "non-fiction thriller," Target Stores' favorite author claims to debunk why King Tut didn't die of natural causes, as is believed.
"The Professional" by Robert B. Parker (Oct. 5): The next installment in the Spenser series has the resilient dick trying to quash a far-reaching blackmail.
"A Touch of Dead" by Charlaine Harris (Oct. 6): A collection of short stories about telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse and a world where vampires have "come out of the coffin." The HBO series "True Blood" is based on Harris' work.
"Nine Dragons" by Michael Connelly (Oct. 13): The prolific teller of yummy detective yarns returns for a story about an L.A. murder with Hong Kong implications.
"The Scarpetta Factor" by Patricia Cornwell (Oct. 20): Cornwell's medical examiner heroine Kay Scarpetta returns to hack her way through another gruesome case.
"What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures" by Malcolm Gladwell (Oct. 20): The bestselling social scientist behind "Blink" and "Outliers" releases the best of his New Yorker pieces in this anthology, which includes his investigation into why there are so many different kinds of mustard but only one kind of ketchup.
"Ford County: Stories" by John Grisham (Nov. 3): A collection of short stories takes the author back to the Mississippi setting of his first book, "A Time to Kill."
"Under the Dome" by Stephen King (Nov. 10): On an otherwise normal day in one of those idyllic Maine towns King's so fond of, a giant dome inexplicably seals off the community from the rest of the world. Nobody knows where it came from or if it will go away. Did King borrow the dome premise from "The Simpsons Movie"?
"Year of the Flood" by Margaret Atwood (Sept. 22): "Oryx and Crake" author Atwood serves up another dystopian future, in which a natural disaster has destroyed the world and left only two women living.
"Blood's A Rover" by James Ellroy (Sept. 22): The snarling bulldog of modern pulp is back with a wide-spanning novel of deadly dames and stone-cold tough guys in the City of Angels. This is the conclusion of Ellroy's "American Underworld Trilogy."
"Her Fearful Symmetry" by Audrey Niffenegger (Sept 29): The writer of "The Time Traveler's Wife" follows her six-year absence with a ghost story. American twins inherit their aunt's London flat after her death. Upon moving there, they spark relationships with the building's other tenants and perhaps even their dead aunt.
"Juliet, Naked" by Nick Hornby (Sept. 29): This Hornby dramedy's about a girl named Annie who strikes up a (romantic?) e-mail correspondence with a failed musician.
"The Wild Things" by Dave Eggers (Oct. 1): Eggers co-wrote the screenplay for the upcoming "Where the Wild Things Are" movie. And to further riff on the beloved storybook by Maurice Sendak, he wrote this 300-page re-imagining.
"Chronic City" by Jonathan Lethem (Oct. 13): Pomo lit hero Lethem's latest is about a disaffected Manhattan socialite who escapes the Upper East Side to search for meaning.
"Last Night in Twisted River" by John Irving (Oct. 27): In 1954 New Hampshire, a teenage boy mistakes the constable's lover for a bear, the results of which make him and his father fugitives, and a libertarian logger gives them shelter.
"Lights on a Ground of Darkness: An Evocation of a Place and Time" by Ted Kooser (out now): The former U.S. poet laureate chronicles his mother's Iowa family, the Mosers. Kooser said the book is his most important work, an effort to keep the stories of his family alive.
"Beyond the Final Score: There's More to Life Than the Game" by Tom Osborne (out now): This Osborne guy - you might have heard of him - tells his story of the man beyond the game: the congressman, educator, family man and mentor.
"Great Plains: America's Lingering Wild" by Michael Forsberg (Oct. 1): The Nebraska photographer spent more than three years traveling 100,000 miles across 12 states and three provinces, capturing the lonesome beauty of the Great Plains. Forsberg's images are mingled with essays by Great Plains scholar David Wishart and writer Dan O'Brien. The book is a call for conservation of this oft-neglected ecosystem.
"The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks" by Max Brooks (Oct. 6): Brooks, the world's foremost zombie expert, told us of the zombie war and gave us the definitive guide in how to survive an attack from the undead. Now, in graphic novel form, he charts the famous zombie attacks throughout history, dating back to the Roman Empire.
"The Book of Genesis Illustrated" by R. Crumb (Oct. 19): Word of God, meet the dirtiest mind in comics.
"Absolute Death" by Neil Gaiman (Oct. 20): The maestro of modern fantasy lit collects all the stories of one of his most beloved characters, the sweet, perky, gorgeous girl named Death, sister to Gaiman's Sandman.
Politics as usual
"End the Fed" by Ron Paul (Wednesday): The former presidential candidate and Texas congressman argues for elimination of a corrupt Federal Reserve.
"Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government" by Glenn Beck (Sept. 22): The right's IT boy of the moment offers a handy guide to dealing with liberals.
"The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution" by Richard Dawkins (Sept. 22): As much a book of politics as it is scientific study. Dawkins knows how to get both sides of the political spectrum riled up.
"Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us" by Ralph Nader (Sept. 22): Nader lays out his plans for a better world in this novel. How do we get there? He says folks like Warren Buffet need to pony up.
"True Compass" by Edward M. Kennedy (Monday): The senator's five-years-in-the-making memoir chronicles his whole life, from his childhood to his political career to his diagnosis of brain cancer.
"Bicycle Diaries" by David Byrne (Thursday): The musician and visual artist has been a devout biker since the early '80s. And on his rides through dozens of cities throughout the world, Byrne was taking notes.
"Sixty Feet, Six Inches: A Hall of Fame Pitcher & A Hall of Fame Hitter Talk about How the Game is Played" by Reggie Jackson and Bob Gibson (Sept. 22): Well, uh, the title sums it up.
"The Time of My Life" by Patrick Swayze (Sept. 29): The actor covers not only his bout with cancer, but also his Texas upbringing, his career and his relationship with his wife, Lisa Niemi.
Takes on manhood
"The Good Soldiers" by David Finkel (Monday): The Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter was with the army infantry soldiers of the 2-16 every step of the way after the January 2007 surge strategy in Iraq.
"Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman" by Jon Krakauer (Monday): The writer of epic man vs. nature books takes on the subject of Pat Tillman, who walked away from a $3.6 million NFL contract to enlist in the army following 9/11. He died two years later in southeastern Afghanistan. Krakauer chronicles the life, death and aftermath of Tillman.
"Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son" by Michael Chabon (Oct. 6): The fantastic American novelist asks: "What does it mean to be a man today?" with a series of subtly connected essays.
Reach Micah Mertes at 473-7395 or email@example.com.