Richard and Judy unveil this summer's top reads

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The Independent Culture

When Richard and Judy speak the publishing world quakes and the book-reading public takes note.

This week the daytime television hosts will once more issue their verdict as they reveal their annual shortlist of summer reads, promising their audience a selection of "absolute crackers" from emerging authors.

Six new books have made it, ranging from Jim Lynch's tale of cephalopod-fuelled celebrity to a Grecian love story by Victoria Hislop - wife of Private Eye editor Ian.

Selected by an eclectic panel of judges, including the former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, Earl Spencer, the brother of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and "ladette" DJ Sara Cox, each book will be road-tested by a celebrity in a sun-drenched location.

The TV presenter Abi Titmuss will put the first book, The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch, through its paces in Tunisia while other celebrity reviewers will be in the studio to talk through the choices.

While Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan have long been dismissed in higher literary circles as king and queen of the middlebrow, their impact on booksellers' bottom lines is undisputed. Inclusion in their celebrated Channel 4 book club rivals the award of a prestigious "highbrow" prize such as the Booker or the Orange, bringing sales surges of up to 3,000 per cent for some lucky titles.

The club has sold more than 8 million books, with a turnover of £50m. This year they have helped propel Kate Mosse's Labyrinth and Richard Benson's The Farm to the top of the best-seller charts. An interview with the model and I'm a Celebrity contestant Katie Price, also known as Jordan, ensured bumper sales for the 28-year-old's second autobiography, A Whole New World.

Executive producer Amanda Ross, who selects the books, has even been described as the most influential person in publishing. Her liking or disliking for a novel has created the "Richard and Judy effect" - and been compared to Oprah Winfrey's pioneering US TV book club. Madeley said his perfect holiday read was "one with a compelling narrative but [that] also helps you unwind and not take the hazy summer days too seriously". He said both he and his wife had read all the books on the list.

Finnigan added: "Whether you are housebound or destined for sunnier shores, I'm sure you'll find these titles to be real page-turners."

Ms Ross said: "The summer read aims to eliminate that desperate dash round the book shop in search of inspiration and bring you six easy-going titles by brand new or emerging authors so you'll certainly get something different and enjoyable."

What's on the list

* The Highest Tide, by Jim Lynch

A 13-year-old boy discovers a giant squid near his American seaside home and becomes a media star.

* The Righteous Men, by Sam Bourne

Thriller set in New York about a journalist investigating a series of seemingly random murders.

* The Island, by Victoria Hislop

A love story set on a Greek island.

* My Best Friend's Girl, by Dorothy Koomson

Kamryn is devastated when her best friend Adele sleeps with her fiancé and has a child by him - but is then faced with raising the child when Adele reveals she is dying.

* The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova

A teenage girl sets out to Romania to discover the truth behind the Dracula story in this vampire chiller.

* The Abortionist's Daughter, by Elisabeth Hyde

When an abortion doctor is found murdered, the list of suspects includes her family and her enemies in the anti-abortion lobby.