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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July, 2005, 07:24 GMT 08:24 UK
Poll names 'top book group novel'
Congleton NWR Book Group, Cheshire
More than 160 reading groups took part in the poll
British book groups have voted Barbara Kingsolver's 1998 novel The Poisonwood Bible, about a US missionary in 1950s Africa, their favourite read.

Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time came second in the survey of groups entering the Penguin/Orange Reading Group Prize.

Works by Khaled Hosseini, Andrea Levy and Tracy Chevalier were also in the top five books for reading groups.

The Poisonwood Bible was nominated for the Pulitzer and PEN/Faulkner awards.

More than 160 reading groups, with about 2,500 members, offered their all-time favourite books for the poll.

Modern classics

The top of the list is dominated by books published in the last decade.

Mark Haddon's work and The Kite Runner by Afghan-born author Khaled Hosseini, at number three, were both published in 2003.

Andrea Levy's Small Island, in fourth place, won the Orange and Whitbread prizes after being released last year while Tracy Chevalier's Girl With a Pearl Earring came out in 2000.

Mark Haddon
Mark Haddon's 2003 bestseller won the Whitbread Prize in 2004

Classics on the list include To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee at six, John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath at 12 and Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre at 16.

Guy Pringle, one of the Reading Group Prize judges, said all the novels "struck a lasting chord with passionate readers".

"Reading groups have once again made up their own minds about what they want to read - in spite of publishers' marketing campaigns," he said.

"Word-of-mouth recommendation is clearly crucial, pushing new titles like The Kite Runner instantly on to the Reading Group bestseller list alongside old favourites."

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