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Fiction, suspense and guidebooks among popular books in 2007

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Amazon.com began it's list of the best-selling books of 2007 by asking readers if there was "any doubt" that "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" was the web site's top selling book in the last year.

The seventh, and final, book in J. K. Rowling's series about the boy wizard came out in 2007. But, while many people bought Harry Potter's last adventure, local book sellers, librarians and literary enthusiasts all had their own ideas about what was the best book they read last year.

"There's been some really good stuff to come out this year [2007]," said Regina McCullough, the circulation manager of the Clayton County Library System's headquarters branch in Jonesboro. "It's hard to say if one year was better than another, though, because there's something good that comes out every year."

Local librarians, book sellers and literary enthusiasts didn't necessarily think the best book they read in 2007 was written that year. McCullough said John Sandford's "Eyes of Prey," first published in 1991, was the best book she sat down with last year. The book is part of a series of detective novels that feature Lt. Lucas Davenport. "Eyes of Prey" is the third book in the series.

"Since it's part of a series, I've been following the main character for a while," McCullough said.

Kaye West, the supervisor of the Henry County Library System's headquarters branch in McDonough, also liked a suspense novel she picked up during the year. She read "The Memory Keeper's Daughter," by Kim Edwards, with her book club. The book, which was published in 2006, "had a lot of suspense," according to West.

The book involves an elderly couple and the secret the husband has kept from his wife throughout their marriage. West didn't want to tell what the secret was, because she didn't want to spoil the book for anyone who wants to read it in the future.

While suspense and mystery books stood out in the minds of librarians in 2007, Ken Follett's attention to historical detail in "The Pillars of the Earth" and "World Without End" stood out for Daniel Williams, a manager at Barnes and Noble Booksellers in Morrow. "The Pillars of the Earth" was published in 1990, and "World Without End," its sequel, was published in 2007.

The books follow the lineage of several families in 14th-century Kingsbridge, England, during a period plagued by war and the Black Death. One of the characters, Jack Builder, aspires to become the designe and builder of cathedrals in England.

"The details of the cathedrals really brought the books to life," Williams said. "Normally, I read fantasy books. If it doesn't have a dragon in it, then I'm not interested. But both of these books really sucked me in."

Dr. Brenda Stanford, a member of The Literary Consortium-Atlanta book club, felt an informational book by Stuart Wells, "From Sage to Artisan: The Nine Roles of the Value-Driven Leader," stood out in her mind. Stanford, who is also a special education teacher at Hawthorne Elementary School, decided to read the book, which was written in 1997, so she could find out which role she fit as a leader.

The nine roles are: sage, visionary, magician, globalist, mentor, ally, sovereign, guide and artisan.

"The message I got from the book was anyone can be a leader," Stanford said. "You don't need a title. It's your actions that show whether or not you are a leader."