Richard and Judy select Britain's next best-sellers

A story of the Biafran war, a modern version of the Faust myth and the latest work from William Boyd have been chosen as the new reads for the Richard & Judy Book Club - now the quickest route to mega-sales in British publishing.

The fourth series of the weekly book club hosted by the popular Channel 4 presenters will give another eight titles the publicity that has sent previous choices soaring up the charts.

Of the top 100 best-selling titles last year, 21 were by authors discussed on the Richard & Judy Book Club, including Kate Mosse's Labyrinth, at No 1, and Victoria Hislop'sThe Island, which took second place in the 2006 sales league.

The new round of choices is, once more, eclectic. The story of the Biafran war, or Nigerian civil war, in the late 1960s - Half of a Yellow Sun - is the second novel by the hot young African writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, while the modern Faust is The Testament of Gideon Mack by the Scottish author James Robertson. The latest offering from the former Oxford academic William Boyd, Restless, is a wartime spy story.

The other choices are The Girls, a story about Siamese twins by the Canadian Lori Lansens; Love in the Present Tense by Catherine Ryan Hyde; and This Book Will Save Your Life by the often-controversial writer A M Homes. Non-fiction is represented by the childhood memoirs of the comedian turned heritage television presenter Griff Rhys Jones.

Amanda Ross, Richard and Judy's executive producer, said: "Our choices each year are based on instinct, but we try to include something we know our viewers will enjoy reading and discussing. I am confident that once again there really is something for everyone. Even if people don't like every book we recommend, we're sure they'll get something out of it and see why we chose each book."

The presenter Richard Madeley said: "Book Club has nailed the lie that daytime TV is for dimwits and bored housewives. We demonstrated that our viewers are intelligent people who relish the opportunity to read and discuss books."

Rodney Troubridge, a fiction buyer for Waterstone's bookshops, said it was a "fabulous" list. "I think they have got some really challenging books," he said.

He was particularly delighted to see The Testament of Gideon Mack, which tackles "serious theological issues", and Half of a Yellow Sun, which he described as "a wonderful literary novel".

All eight will be voted for by viewers and the winner will be presented with the best read award at the 2007 Galaxy British Book Awards in March. Mr Troubridge suspected William Boyd would win.

It was clear that Richard and Judy were encouraging viewers to read some books that they might have feared were too literary, Mr Troubridge said, such as David Mitchell's Booker contender Cloud Atlas, which won best read in 2005. "I think they have led people to go and explore," he added.

The new series of the Book Club, with guest reviewers, begins on 31 January.

The book club's choice

The Interpretation of Murder Jed Rubenfeld

Rubenfeld, a Yale Law School professor, bases his mystery on fact. In 1909, Sigmund Freud went with his then disciple Carl Jung on his only visit to the United States. But why would he later speak of the trip with something approaching horror?

The Testament of Gideon Mack James Robertson

An updating of the Faust myth in which a minister, Gideon Mack, encounters Satan. Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Scottish author uses the literary device of a discovered manuscript falling into the hands of a publisher.

Half of a Yellow Sun Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The story of five characters caught up in the civil war in Nigeria, written by the young Nigerian whose debut, Purple Hibiscus, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

This Book Will Save Your Life A M Homes

An uplifting story of how wealthy Richard Novak is forced out of the bubble of his Los Angeles hills mansion to reconnect with the world. A(my) Homes, an American author, previously provoked controversy with The End of Alice, about a child molester.

Restless William Boyd

Ninth novel from the Whitbread-winning author. In the summer of 1976, Ruth Gilmartin discovers the strange and haunting true story about her mother, Sally, and her life as a spy during the Second World War.

Love in the Present Tense Catherine Ryan Hyde

A young business owner called Mitch helps his neighbour, Pearl, by watching her young son, Leonard, while she goes to work. One day Pearl fails to return. The author lives in California.

The Girls Lori Lansens

Rose and Ruby Darlen, soon to be the world's oldest conjoined twins, look back over their three decades together and each tell the story of their surprisingly separate lives. The second novel from the Canadian screenwriter.

Semi-Detached Griff Rhys Jones

In a warm and amusing trip back to his childhood in the Sixties and Seventies, the popular television presenter considers whether he might have felt less like an outsider if he had moved around less. Or would he be fully detached?

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