June 13, 2011 / 3:54 PM / 6 years ago

Nutty novels, thrillers on O Magazine reading list

<p>Oprah Winfrey gestures during the taping of "Oprah's Surprise Spectacular" in Chicago May 17, 2011. REUTERS/John Gress</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A British whodunit about two sisters, a look at absurd nuclear bomb shelters and a what-if novel modeled on Britain’s Princess Diana if she had lived to 50, are among 29 books on O, The Oprah Magazine’s summer reading list.

The selections were culled from hundreds of new titles to satisfy readers during the summer when there is more time to snuggle up with a book on the beach, in a chaise longue or even the airplane seat, according to the newest edition of Winfrey’s monthly magazine.

“I feel like we are curating a list of books that people are going to want to read,” said Sara Nelson, the magazine’s book editor. “It’s really for the pleasure of reading rather than education or enlightenment.”

British bestseller “Sister” by Rosamund Lupton, unfolds through a woman’s letters to her dead sister as she hunts her killer -- even though everyone else thinks she had committed suicide.

And British royal history turns into a thriller in “Untold Story” by Monica Ali, about a princess who fakes her own death and undergoes plastic surgery to live in a small American town.

“While the heroine is named Lydia Snaresbrook, she’s clearly a dark-haired, rhinoplastied Princess Diana, who Ali imagines has faked her own death and come to live in a small American town,” Nelson said in describing the book on the magazine’s website.

Bookworms, old and young, may see themselves in Rebecca Makkai’s “The Borrower,” a coming-of-age road trip about the relationship between a 20-something librarian and a 10-year-old boy with punitive parents.

In what may well echo the sentiments of Winfrey’s Book Club members, the librarian in the novel concludes: “I do still believe that books can save you. I believed that would get his books, as surely as any addict will get his drug.”

Other truths may be found in nonfiction picks, though cooking and other how-to books are left for O’s other seasonal lists.

One title explains itself: “Bomboozled: How the U.S. Government Misled Itself and its People into Believing They Could Survive a Nuclear Attack.” The darkly funny study by Susan Roy pairs illustrations with commentary.

Other true stories include “Garden of Beasts,” in which William E. Dodd examines his family’s naivete about Nazi Germany and Mark Seal’s “The Man in the Rockefeller Suit,” an expose on art collector Clark Rockefeller, a conman arrested in 2008 for kidnapping his daughter, and charged with the murder of his former landlord.

The impact of Winfrey's book recommendations has typically boosted sales of the titles. The magazine's full summer reading list can be found at www.oprah.com/summerreading.

“It gives bookstores a reliable forecast of what could potentially be popular,” said Mary Gotaas, bookstore analyst at IBISWorld Inc.

“We can’t kill a book,” Nelson said. “All of our power is positive power.”

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