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KARLA MASS: The week's most talked about books


Mystery, science fiction, fantasy and romance novels are on display. Shiny, new paperbacks, as well as discounted titles are neatly stacked on long rows of tables, stretching the length of an aisle. Creative book covers beckon; I can't write fast enough. Today, I'm a spy ... cruising local bookstores to find out what's hot in adult fiction.

Sadly, my disguise is only a pen and bits of paper. Customers watch me closely. Kids stare. My note taking activity arouses so much suspicion, a store employee comes up to me. "Can I help you find something?" she whispers. I smile. My cover is blown.

Sarah Goddin, general manager of Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh, N.C., shares her insight on the popularity of adult fiction and book clubs:

Q: What are current trends in adult fiction?

Goddin: There is more interest in international, translated and imported literature. Also, fiction that is based on fact is popular. "Loving Frank" is an example of this type of literature.

Q: What are book clubs reading this summer?

Goddin: The most popular are "Loving Frank" by Nancy Horan; "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert; "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, "Suite Francaise" by Irene Nemirovsky; "Double Bind" by Chris Bohjalian and "Stoner" by Jonathan Williams.

Q: Are book clubs more or less popular?

Goddin: Book clubs are more popular than ever. Perhaps because people need meaningful social contact, even more. And book clubs are a great combination of thoughtful discussion, fun, friendship and often good food!

Q: What are your bestsellers in fiction?

Goddin: What we recommend to book clubs and customers via our Book Club Bash, held twice a year, regular book club talks and "Staff Picks." We try to recommend good, provocative fiction and nonfiction with subjects or writing worthy of discussion. What we recommend to clubs often ends up being popular with individuals.

Q: Which authors are most popular?

Goddin: Alexander McCall Smith, Margaret Maron and Elizabeth Strout.

Q: Which book is most requested this summer?

Goddin: Right now, our bestselling books are "Deep Dish" by Mary Kay Andrews and "People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks.

Q: What is your favorite fiction title?

Goddin: Too hard! I have to think about that.


A Summer Affair

Author: Elin Hilderbrand

Publisher: Little, Brown & Company

Publication Date: July 2008

The Tease: Shelia Crispin Cook, a mother of four, deals with past and present loves. But what is her true love?

One in a Million

Author: Kimberla Lawson Roby

Publisher: William Morrow

Publication Date: June 2008

The Tease: A radical change occurs unexpectedly in the life and marriage of Blake and Kennedi Mason. What is happiness, really?

Girls In Trucks

Author: Katie Crouch

Publisher: Little, Brown & Company

Publication Date: April 2008

The Tease: Sarah Walters drinks too much and along with other bad habits, she loses herself. Will she come to grips with reality before it's too late?

The Sugar Queen

Authors: Sarah Addison Allen

Publisher: Bantam Books

Publication Date: May 2008

The Tease: Josey Cirrini has a sweet tooth and a local waitress named Della Lee hiding in her closet. Neither of these are in her best interest.

Listen to an excerpt from The Sugar Queen


Author: Eric Jerome Dickey

Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)

Publication Date: April 2008

The Tease: Relationships can produce that fine line between love and hate; and Atlanta is where it's at. Can characters' physical and emotional needs be fulfilled? Nia Simone Bijoux answers this very question.

Skeletons at the Feast

Author: Chris Bohjalian

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group

Publication Date: May 2008

The Tease: Anna Emmerich is in love with Callum Finella, a prisoner of war. Can their love endure war?

Nappily Faithful

Author: Trisha R. Thomas

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Publication Date: January 2008

The Tease: Venus and Jake head for the city lights of Atlanta, but a cloud of suspicion follows Jake and a custody battle heats up for Venus.

Certain Girls

Author: Jennifer Weiner

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: April 2008

The Tease: Cannie Shapiro is back! Family ties can sometimes be too tight. So, what happens next for Cannie?

"The Week's Most Talked About Book(s)" is a weekly book review and literary criticism column that publishes every Friday. Selected titles are based on popularity, public opinion, research and observation. Questions, comments and suggestions should be sent to book lover and columnist Karla Mass at She is a content producer for McClatchy Interactive.