Nicholas Sparks on ‘Bookwatch’ tonight

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 28, 2011

It is a big weekend for ěNorth Carolina Bookwatch.î
Today at 5, the program will feature the nationís current No. 1 bestselling book in the fiction category as reported in todayís New York Times Book Review.
The new No. 1 is ěThe Best of Meî by New Bern author Nicholas Sparks. The action is set in Oriental, best known as our stateís sailing capital.
There are a couple of special things about this bestselling rank.
First, this weekend marks the first time Bookwatch has featured a book that was, at the time of the broadcast, a New York Times No. 1 bestseller.
For UNC-TV, ěBookwatchî viewers and me it is exciting, big news.
Second, the Times recently adjusted its bestselling categories. The longtime classic category is hardcover fiction. This week, ěThe Best of Meî tops this chart, ousting John Sandfordís ěShock Waveî and Lee Childís ěThe Affair.î
In a new category, E-book fiction, ěThe Best of Meî also took the top spot from ěShock Waveî and ěThe Affair.î
The Times is pushing the Combined Print & E-Book Fiction category as the new best way to measure the ongoing sales success of current books. For instance, ěThe Helpî has been at or near the top of this category since the Times introduced it earlier this year. This week, ěThe Best of Meî knocked ěThe Helpî out of the No. 1 position.
Earning the top position in all three of these rankings is a noteworthy achievement and a first for a North Carolina author.
So what is this blockbuster book about? In a brief description for its bestseller rankings the Times says simply, ěTwenty-five years after their high school romance ended, a man and woman who have gone their separate ways return to their North Carolina town for the funeral of a friend.î
Sparksí central characters, Dawson and Amanda, were high school sweethearts, inseparable and deeply in love. But they came from different backgrounds. After high school, Amanda went to Duke. She did not see Dawson again until the friendís death brought the two back to Oriental. Meanwhile, she had been married for 20 years and loves her children. After spending some time in prison, unfairly, Dawson led a solitary life working on an oil rig, still so much in love with Amanda that he never had a serous relationship with another woman.
When they come back to Oriental to put to rest their beloved friend and mentor, they follow his detailed instructions, which he had designed to bring them back together and deal with their unresolved love for each other while they put the old manís affairs in order.
Strong feelings push to the surface. Sparks teases his readers with the question of whether the old romance can be rekindled without breaking up Amandaís marriage and family.
Sparksí clever plot and storytelling push his readers to rush to the end, where they, some tearfully, will learn how he meets that challenge.
A hint about the ending, appropriate at Halloween time: Sparks enlists the help of a mysterious ghost to resolve the conflicts he has so carefully made a part of his story.

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