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Oprah picks "Pillars of the Earth" for book club

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Oprah Winfrey on Wednesday picked British author Ken Follett’s novel “The Pillars of the Earth,” an epic about building the world’s biggest Gothic cathedral, for her next book club selection.

The talk show host and philanthropist, whose book choices usually spark a boost in sales, said the book is “like nothing I would ever read or had ever read before.”

“I got to 800 pages, and I slowed myself down because I didn’t want it to end,” Winfrey said in a statement released by Harpo, her Chicago-based production company.

“Pillars,” a historical novel first published in 1989, is Winfrey’s 60th selection for her club and her fifth this year.

Her other picks this year were actor Sidney Poitier’s memoir “Measure of a Man,” Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel “The Road,” “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides and “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Nobel Prize-winning Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

New American Library, a unit of Penguin Group (USA) Inc, does not have an estimate for how much Winfrey’s recommendation will spur sales, but shipped 612,000 copies to retailers in anticipation of the announcement, spokesman Craig Burke said.

“Obviously Oprah has a huge impact on book sales,” he said.

“Pillars” was first published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins that is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. It was followed by a 1999 collector’s edition published by Penguin Putnam, according to Follett’s Web site, which said the book sells about 100,000 copies a year in paperback in the United States.

“Her endorsement will bring my work to the attention of her many millions of fans, and for that I am very grateful,” Follett said in a statement.

“The Pillars of the Earth” is set in the 12th century town of Kingsbury in England.

As Winfrey’s summary says, the story is about the struggle between good and evil during the quest to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known.

Follett, 58, who also wrote thrillers like “Eye of the Needle,” “The Man From St. Petersburg” and “The Key to Rebecca,” said on his Web site that his latest novel, “World Without End,” takes place two centuries after “Pillars,” in 1327.

It is about four children who witness murders in a forest, which cast a shadow over their adult lives as they are marked by ambition, love, greed and revenge, according to Follett's Web site (