Hot Books - Fiction

Judith Stokes
Librarian and
Associate Professor
Continuing a series that began last year, Judith Stokes looks at the fiction and nonfiction books in the Adams Library’s Browsing Collection that have been borrowed most frequently (as of spring 2009). And, she will review 10 of her favorite books. This month she’ll cover fiction, next month nonfiction, and the following month, her favorites. Perhaps among these books, you will find some to put on your personal summer reading list.

Top 10 most popular fiction books in the Browsing Collection, spring 2009

“The Knitting Circle: A Novel” by Ann Hood tells the story of a bereaved mother’s grief. Hood, herself, lost her 5-year-old daughter to a rare form of streptococcus, so it is not surprising that her protagonist, Mary Baxter, seems so real. While knitting calms her nerves, it is the understanding of the friends in her circle, their empathy and their own experiences of loss that touch her most. Their ability to help when she can accept help, and to wait companionably when she cannot, is the healing power that “knits up the raveled sleeve of care.”

“Obsession: An Alex Delaware Novel” by Jonathan Kellerman is a thriller, the 21st in this series. Retired child psychologist Delaware and his pal Detective Milo Sturgis help one of Delaware’s former patients by solving the mystery of her mother’s deathbed confession. Alex Delaware fans will like the French bulldog puppy Robin has given Alex, since Spike died.

“The Edge of Winter” by Luanne Rice is a romance set on a wildlife refuge beach in fictional Secret Harbor, Rhode Island, the winter home of an elusive snowy owl. Just offshore, the scene of a naval battle that left the wreck of German U-boat number 823 on the ocean floor, sends unusually large breakers up onto the restricted beach. Birder meets surfer and what follows is a tale of healing and love. Two families, facing a threat to their beloved beach, overcome old wounds in order to band together.

“The Woods” by Harlan Coben is a thriller full of plot twists and turns. It’s a quicker than quick read, and just when you think you know all, it will surprise you. The protagonist, a likeable fellow, a county prosecutor with a promising career, is a widower with a six-year-old daughter. Called to identify a murder victim who turns out to be a missing person, long presumed dead, he comes to believe that his sister may still be alive. If she was not killed by the serial murderer, Wayne Steubens, 20 years ago, what happened to her?

“An Irish Country Doctor” by Patrick Taylor is a heartwarming visit to the rural Irish village of Ballybucklebo, where Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly advises his wet-behind-the-ears assistant, young Dr. Laverty, to “never let the customers get the upper hand.” The young man rises to the challenge of caring for eccentric villagers, not to mention the dogs, cats, and cattle that cross his path, and knows he has earned acceptance when housekeeper, Mrs. Kinkaid, asks him to call her Kinky.

“Mark’s Story: The Gospel According to Peter” by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins is the second in a series on the writers of the Gospels: The Jesus Chronicles. It is not the kind of page-turner readers of LaHaye and Jenkins’ phenomenally popular Left Behind series may expect. It takes the perspective of Mark, who was a child when Jesus was crucified, and who followed Peter, recording his memories of Jesus, during the early days of the Christianity. Much of the dialogue is taken directly from the King James Bible books of Mark and Peter, which are also included in this book.

“Nineteen Minutes: A Novel” by Jodi Picoult begins with the aftermath of a school shooting, and follows the progress of the investigation and the trial, while flashing back into the lives of the students and their families. Picoult addresses the heavy questions, depicting children who do and do not bully, and the child who never gets enough support, has not the innate resilience, is bullied more than he can bear, and strikes back.

“Hide” by Lisa Gardner is a Bobby Dodge detective mystery, a real page-turning thriller, with a subtle romance to boot. A horrific underground chamber is discovered on the grounds of a former mental hospital. Inside are six small mummified bodies neatly wrapped in clear plastic bags, one bearing a locket with a name claimed by a woman whose family fled the area many years ago for reasons she never understood.

“Back on Blossom Street” by Debbie Macomber is third in her series of “knit lit” bestsellers. A knitting class joins four women in friendship, which helps them cope with an unintended pregnancy, a mother’s illness, an over-sized wedding, a carjacking and a romance disrupted by international crime.

“For One More Day” by Mitch Albom vividly portrays a near-death experience in which a man gets to spend a day with his mother, who had died eight years before. Child of a divorce, he had spent his life pursuing his father, while his mother gave him unconditional love and support. Having lost his wife and daughter to his own alcoholism and divorce, he had given up on himself, and he was drunk and suicidal when he caused the car crash that gave him that one more day of love and forgiveness.