The Monitor's Guide to BESTSELLERS

HARDCOVER NONFICTION

By

= Favorable review

= Unfavorable review

= Mixed review

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

= No review noted

The Christian Science Monitor; The New York Times; Kirkus Review od Books; Los Angeles Times; Selected review*

1) 1

6

Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot AND OTHER OBSERVATIONS, by Al Franken, Delacort, $21.95

Uncivil discourse in the public square continues. This time it is the left's turn to accuse, insult, ridicule and poke fun at political opponents. Rush Limbaugh and an assortment of conservative politicians and policies are the targets. At its best, this book reads like a stand-up comedy act in a nightclub. (Franken won an Emmy for the TV program ''Saturday Night Live.'') At its worst, it is payback, a collection of leftist bombast as strident and partisan as the polemics broadcast daily on talk-radio. By Jim Bencivenga

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CT

2) 1

151

MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS, by John Gray, HarperCollins, $23

Written more for the female audience, this easy-to-read guide helps men and women better understand how the other sex communicates. Although redundant and sometimes stereotypical, it goes beyond psychobabble. Gray, who has written an assortment of books on this topic, explores such issues as the difference between a man's silence and a woman's, why men and women resist the other sex's solutions, and how a man reacts when a woman needs to talk. By Shelley Donald Coolidge

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TT

3) 3

7

IT TAKES A VILLAGE, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Simon & Schuster, $20

''It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us,'' conveys the personal views and experiences of the first lady about what matters in the rearing of children. Relatively free from jargon, it concerns the complex social issues of child rearing. Comprehensive and topical, if not original; breezy and conversational in a didactic way; autobiographical, yet clearly the work of a policy wonk shaping national policy; this book concerns a subject that should have no rival for our attention. By Jim Bencivenga

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HC

4) 5

22

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE, by Daniel Goleman, Bantam, $23.95

Goleman asserts that IQ is not destiny; emotional intelligence, the ability to be cool in a bind and make clear decisions, is equally important in a good life. The theories about brain architecture are less interesting than examples of emotional control that establishes solid relationships and cooperation among people. He says those lacking self-control are morally deficient and the conclusions of scientists do not limit one's prospects for success, no matter how troubled one's childhood. By David Holmstrom

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DP

5) 4

53

THE SEVEN SPIRITUAL LAWS OF SUCCESS, by Deepak Chopra, New World Library, $12.95

Chopra draws points from Eastern philosophies and practices such as Taoism, Vedic Science, meditation, and karma and distills them into a new-age seven-step program. The logic is at times circular and simplistic, and Chopra's attempts to incorporate The Bible and Christian tradition into his text are uneven at best. Nonetheless, while not original, many of the espoused ideas - prayer, generosity, and a nonjudgmental and positive outlook - certainly have merit. By Yvonne Zipp

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6) 9

5

How Could You Do That?!, by Laura Schlessinger, HarperCollins, $22

Radio host Laura Schlessinger follows-up her bestseller ''Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives,'' with this look at morality. Her message: Living happily means making choices - often between short-term pleasure and long-term consequences. She doesn't mince words when explaining that people's actions should more frequently be based on character, courage, and conscience. This quick read is full of strong opinions, religious undertones, and advice she's given callers. By Kim Campbell

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7) 6

9

THE WAY OF THE WIZARD, by Deepak Chopra, Harmony, $15.95

A follow-up to the best-selling ''The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success,'' Deepak Chopra's newest book is aimed at people wishing to transform their lives. Based on the teachings of the legendary wizard Merlin, the 20 lessons are intended to be stepping stones to personal and spiritual fulfillment - a tall order likely to leave most readers disappointed. But the underlying theme is helpful to remember: If you want to change the world, change your attitude toward it. By Suzanne MacLachlan

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8) -

1

UNDAUNTED COURAGE, by Stephen E. Ambrose, Simon & Schuster, $27.50

Lewis and Clark. Stephen Ambrose tells the story with a zest for detail, and a feel for the humanity of Meriwether Lewis and his patron, Thomas Jefferson, that make the history sing and sigh, groan and breathe. If you think you already know the tale, think again. If you've heard about it but never read much about it, here's the chance to go along on an epic journey that helped mold not only the new nation, but the American character itself, with its manifest strengths - and frailties. By Keith Henderson.

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SL

9) 8

5

time present, time past, by Bill Bradley, Knopf, $25

Part memoir, part political manifesto, this intriguing volume says a lot about national politics today, and during the past three decades. A former Rhodes scholar, professional basketball player, and a United States senator from New Jersey since 1979, Bradley displays an impressive understanding of many issues, especially race. But while seeking a ''third way'' between liberals and conservatives, he often lapses into partisanship and his economic analyses are sometimes flawed. By Lawrence J. Goodrich

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CT

10) 7

13

THE ROAD AHEAD, by Bill Gates, Viking, $29.95

The mogul of Microsoft Corp. gives his view of a technology-rich future, hoping to stimulate ''understanding, debate, and creative ideas....'' The book is smoothly written, albeit open to a charge of serving Microsoft's interests, sprinkled with interesting anecdotes from his own experience and from the history of technology - from Gutenberg to room-size computers. Although many of Gates's predictions are not that new, readers will find the book thought-provoking. By Mark Trumbull

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BW

11) 13

2

YOU'LL NEVER MAKE LOVE IN THIS TOWN AGAIN, by Robin, Liza, Linda & Tiffany, Dove, $22.95

Drugs, drink, and deviant sex, Hollywood-style. Four prostitutes reveal names and sexual practices of the rich and famous men who have hired them - actors, directors, business tycoons. The women loftily claim they are telling their sad, sordid stories to keep other young innocents from repeating their mistakes. But their book, filled with sadomasochism and bisexuality, is primarily about titillation and revenge. Hollywood unclothed is an ugly place. By Marilyn Gardner

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12) 10

5

THE BEARDSTOWN LADIES' STITCH-IN-TIME GUIDE, by Robin Dellabough, Hyperion, $19.95

A sequel, this book offers continued common-sense advice from the inestimable ladies investment club of Beardstown, Ill. It is in a category by itself: Besides investment strategies, the ladies present special homemaker tips. Thus, in addition to a discussion of mutual funds, you can also learn how to make a 16-inch dried-flower wreath. There are snapshots of the ladies. A rather quirky book, but it's especially valuable for older women who want an introduction to investing. By Guy Halverson

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MJ

13) 15

86

MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL, by John Berendt, Random House $23

This zany portrait of Savannah, Ga., sings with wonderfully original characters. It tells the universal tale of small-town life in which neighborly rivalries and gossip are residents' pastimes. But Savannah's characters are even more outrageous - sometimes more sensuous - than those of most small towns: from a good natured con-man who invites the town to raucous parties in other peoples' houses to ''The Lady Chablis'' - a drag queen who crashes debutant balls. By Abraham McLaughlin

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14) 12

8

Longitude, by Dava Sobel, Walker, $19

Before wireless and global positioning satellites, the most vexing problem in navigation was to determine longitude: how far east or west you had sailed. This handsome volume is the account of the solution to this problem and how time provided the answer to determining a ship's position on the ocean's surface. Counter to the 18th-century's scientific establishment, John Harrison labored for 40 years to build his nautical chronometer, a clock reliable enough to keep time at sea. By Frederick Pratter

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CT

15) -

1

100 YEARS, 100 STORIES, by George Burns, Putnam, $15.95

What do you do on the 100th annivsersary of your birth? If you are George Burns you write a book, a funny book. You tell 100 sidetickling vignettes from your and your wife's lives. Humor becomes a history lesson on modern American show business. Changing tastes, changing styles, but still Burns's dry wit. As when he sought a $1 million dollar insurance policy for his voice. He sang. His insurance agent said: ''Mr. Burns, you should have come to us before you had the accident.'' By Jim Bencivenga

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BG

BESTSELLER RANKING FROM PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, MARCH 4, 1996 *Chicago Tribune; Tampa Tribune; Houston Chronicle; Detroit Free Press; St. Louis Post Dispatch; Business Week; Des Moines Register; Milwaukee Journal; Boston Globe

MONITOR'S PICK: THE COLOR OF WATER, by James McBride, Riverhead Books, $22.95

THIS tale of a remarkable woman explores the story of a mixed-race family. It is James McBride's moving tribute to his white mother, Ruth. Raised as a Jew in the segregated South of the 1930s, Ruth McBride survived an abusive father, moved to New York, married a black minister and raised 12 children, all of whom went to college and became doctors, educators, and writers.

Poignant and full of humor and insight, ''The Color of Water'' is a story of triumph over hardships and racial biases through love, determination, and religious faith. In a time of racial polarization, it shows that qualities of honesty, affection, compassion, hope, and temperance can build bridges of understanding between races.

When as a child, McBride asks his mother if he is black or white, she replies, ''You're a human being. Educate yourself or you'll be a nobody.''

''Will I be a black nobody or just a nobody?''

''If you're a nobody,'' she says, dryly, ''it doesn't matter what color you are.''

His mother placed even greater value on religion. One day after church young McBride asks whether God likes black or white people better:

''He loves all people. He's a spirit,'' she says.

''What's a spirit?'' he asks.

''A spirit's a spirit. It doesn't have a color,'' she answers. ''God is the color of water. Water doesn't have a color.'' By patiently prying the amazing story of her life out of his reluctant mother over many years, McBride has written an inspiring, utterly fresh, moving, and unforgettable book.

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