1. The Help
By Kathryn Stockett
Weeks on list: 63 Told from three different points of view, The Help takes place in Jackson, Miss., in the early 1960s, when the Deep South was beginning its immersion into the civil rights movement. Kathryn Stockett captures both black and white voices, and all three main characters -- renegade debutante Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, and housekeepers Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson -- are complex, admirable women.
Hardcover, 464pp, $24.95, Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009
2. The Double Comfort Safari Club
The New No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel
By Alexander Mccall Smith
Weeks on list: 1 This is the 12th Alexander McCall Smith novel set in Botswana, about the business of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and the work of lead sleuth Precious Ramotswe. In it, investigator Mma Ramotswe and her assistant Mma Makutsi head to a safari camp to carry out a mission on behalf of a former guest who has left one of the guides a large sum of money. But once they find their man, Precious begins to sense that something is not right.
Hardcover, 224pp, $24.95, Pantheon, Pub Date: Apr. 20, 2010
3. This Body of Death
An Inspector Lynley Novel
By Elizabeth George
Weeks on list: 1 Elizabeth George returns with a tale of mystery and murder featuring Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley. While on compassionate leave after the murder of his wife, Lynley is called back to Scotland Yard when the body of a woman is found stabbed and abandoned in an isolated London cemetery.
Hardcover, 704pp, $28.99, Harper, Pub Date: Apr. 20, 2010
4. Deliver Us from Evil
By David Baldacci
Weeks on list: 1 By all outward appearances, Even Waller is a respectable businessman, but in secret he is into all sorts of unlawful dealings -- child prostitution and weapons trafficking among them. Shaw, a mysterious operative who returns from David Baldacci's 2008 novel The Whole Truth, is out to track him down, and in the process crosses path with British femme fatale Regina Reggie Campion, who is tasked with a similar mission.
Hardcover, 416pp, $27.99, Grand Central Publishing, Pub Date: Apr. 20, 2010
5. Imperfect Birds
By Anne Lamott
Weeks on list: 3 Anne Lamott dips back into the life of Rosie Ferguson, a beautiful 17-year-old who has appeared in two earlier books. Rosie's mother, Elizabeth, and slightly harder-line stepfather, James, think they're living well in the liberal affluence of Marin County, Calif. What Elizabeth and James don't see is that Rosie, like most teens, has a life she carefully keeps hidden from them. Her assertion of independence takes form in the use of everything from pot to swilling cough syrup and sniffing plastics. After Rosie breaks their trust repeatedly, Elizabeth and James make the decision to send her to an outdoor-survival-based rehab program in Utah.
Hardcover, 288pp, $25.95, Riverhead Hardcover, Pub Date: Apr. 6, 2010
6. Every Last One
By Anna Quindlen
Weeks on list: 2 How well can we protect our children from the cruelty of the world? That's a question Anna Quindlen explores in her sixth novel, about a mother whose ordinary suburban life is shattered when her family is violently traumatized by a trusted friend.
Hardcover, 320pp, $26.00, Random House, Pub Date: Apr. 13, 2010
A Novel of the Vietnam War
By Karl Marlantes
Weeks on list: 5 Author Karl Marlantes, who served as a Marine during the Vietnam War, presents this fictionalized account of American troops in Vietnam, as they trudge across enemy lines, encountering danger from opposing forces as well as on their home turf.
Hardcover, 592pp, $24.95, Atlantic Monthly Press, Pub Date: Mar. 23, 2010
By Ian Mcewan
Weeks on list: 4 Michael Beard is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions and half-heartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. While he coasts along in his professional life, his personal life is another matter entirely. His fifth marriage is crumbling under the weight of his infidelities. But this time the tables are turned: His wife is having an affair, and Michael realizes he is still in love with her.
Hardcover, 304pp, $26.95, Nan A. Talese, Pub Date: Mar. 30, 2010
9. Beatrice and Virgil
By Yann Martel
Weeks on list: 2 With his new novel, Yann Martel -- author of the Booker Prize-winning Life of Pi -- attempts to find a way to write imaginatively about the Holocaust. His narrator is an author named Henry who has written a hugely successful book. Martel divides his tale into multiple parts -- an introductory discussion of Henry's failed attempts to create a part-fact, part-fiction book about the Holocaust; a midsection in which he meets a sinister taxidermist, also named Henry, who asks him to collaborate on a Beckett-style play in which a donkey and a howler monkey are starved and tortured; and a coda that describes horrific human practices in the concentration camps.
Hardcover, 224pp, $24.00, Spiegel & Grau, Pub Date: Apr. 13, 2010
10. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
By Helen Simonson
Weeks on list: 8 In St. Mary, a quaint village in the English countryside, retired Major Ernest Pettigrew leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen like him have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But life changes for him after he sparks a friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, a Pakistani shopkeeper in the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But local society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?
Hardcover, 368pp, $25.00, Random House, Pub Date: Mar. 2, 2010
By Edward Osborne Wilson; E. O. Wilson
Weeks on list: 1 The Pulitzer Prize-winning Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson has researched and taught about ants for years. In Anthill, his characters make up large colonies that engage in a series of wars on the side of a lake in rural southern Alabama.
Hardcover, 378pp, $24.95, W. W. Norton & Company, Pub Date: Apr. 1, 2010
12. House Rules
By Jodi Picoult
Weeks on list: 8 Jacob Hunt is a teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome. He's hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, and like many kids with AS, Jacob has a special focus on one subject -- in his case, forensic analysis. He's always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room, and telling the cops what they need to do...and he's usually right. But then his town is rocked by a terrible murder and, for a change, the police come to Jacob with questions. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger's -- not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, flat affect -- can look a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel. Suddenly, Jacob and his family, who only want to fit in, feel the spotlight shining directly on them. For his mother, Emma, it's a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it's another indication of why nothing is normal because of Jacob. And over this small family the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?
Hardcover, 544pp, $28.00, Atria, Pub Date: Mar. 2, 2010
13. Bite Me
A Love Story
By Christopher Moore
Weeks on list: 5 Bite Me is the third installment in Christopher Moore's light-hearted vampire series, based in San Francisco.
Hardcover, 320pp, $23.99, William Morrow, Pub Date: Mar. 23, 2010
14. The Lake Shore Limited
By Sue Miller
Weeks on list: 1 Sue Miller's latest novel examines the lives of four people bound together by the death of one man in the Sept. 11 attacks. It is a love story, a tale of entanglements and inconsolable loss, and a reflection on the meaning of grace and sorrow.
Hardcover, 288pp, $25.95, Knopf, Pub Date: Apr. 6, 2010
15. The Mapping of Love and Death
A Maisie Dobbs Novel
By Jacqueline Winspear
Weeks on list: 5 The seventh Maisie Dobbs detective novel follows the psychologist and investigator as she tracks down the wartime love of a soldier killed during World War I -- and discovers disturbing details surrounding his death.
Hardcover, 352pp, $25.99, Harper, Pub Date: Apr. 1, 2010