Today Show Reading Club Picks Book Sense 76 Top Ten Title

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Selection Comes One Week After GMA Book Club Taps 76 Pick

On Thursday, June 20, NBC News’ The Today Show kicked off its long-awaited book club. Called simply, "Today’s Book Club," the monthly club features notable authors presenting selected titles by lesser-known writers. The first segment featured novelist John Grisham who chose Stephen L. Carter’s The Emperor of Ocean Park (Knopf). Grisham said that one of the reasons he chose the novel is he finds the book’s legal setting "irresistible." Carter also appeared on the popular morning news show.

The Emperor of Ocean Park was a Top Ten Book Sense 76 selection for July/August. This is the second time in as many weeks that a 76 title was selected for a network book club. On Thursday, June 13, ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA) debuted its monthly "Read This!" segment, and announced the choice of The Dive From Clausen’s Pier (Knopf). The debut novel by Ann Packer was a Top Ten Book Sense 76 selection for May/June.

The Emperor of Ocean Park is a legal thriller that details the mystery surrounding the alleged heart attack of the controversial black judge, Oliver Garland. While this is Carter’s first novel, it is not his first book. The Yale professor has written a number of nonfiction works, including Integrity (HarperCollins) and God’s Name in Vain: The Wrongs and Rights of Religion in Politics (Basic Books). About having his book selected for the club, Carter said it was an unexpected privilege, if not a "little overwhelming."

Much like GMA’s "Read This!" book club, "Today’s Book Club," which was first announced on April 8, will bring in book clubs from around America to discuss the month’s selection. (For more on "Read This!" click here. For more on "Today’s Book Club," or to have your book club considered for an appearance, click here.)

If the results of GMA’s book club are anything to go by, Knopf can expect a jump in sales of Carter’s book as a result of being featured on Today -- though, already, The Emperor of Ocean Park resides at number two on the Book Sense Bestseller list for hardcover fiction. However, after "Read This!" selected Packer’s The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, the title jumped to the top of a number of best-seller lists, including number nine on the Book Sense hardcover list.

Aside from the book club, Thursday’s Today show seemed to be a festival of reading, as co-anchor Matt Lauer spent some time chatting with the first lady, Laura Bush. A former librarian, she stressed the importance of reading, especially the need for parents to read to their children. She also talked about the importance of building up school libraries and urged Americans to visit public libraries. An avid reader herself, the first lady said she is currently reading Pulitzer Prize-winning The Hours by Michael Cunningham. --David Grogan