1.MAKING THE CONNECTION:..., by Bob Green and Oprah Winfrey, Hyperion, $18.95
Fueled by the success story of talk show host Oprah Winfrey, Bob Greene presents a 10 step diet that emphasizes a focus on lifetime fitness and mental wellness as opposed to a quick-fix diet. He stresses the connection you need to make between your personal life and your weight. Oprah's successful weight loss, after so many public attempts, gives this book its appeal and credibility even though the steps in this book present little new diet information. Also includes a diet journal. By Debbie Hodges.
2. MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS, by John Gray, HarperCollins, $20
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.
3. THE ZONE, by Barry Sears, HarperCollins, $22
This book purports to counteract the genetic programming of disease, excessive weight, loss of mental proficiency and physical performance through diet. The author develops a theory of "food as drug" that promises optimal health when eating the right foods in the right proportions. Contains minute technical details of disease, case studies, and a road map for achieving life in the "Zone," a state of being suggesting the perfect union of body and mind. By Jim Bencivenga.
4. THE DILBERT PRINCIPLE, by Scott Adams, HarperBusiness, $20
The most ineffective workers are moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management. Adams illustrates this, the Dilbert Principle, with classic Dilbert cartoons (some repeated a few times) and e-mail messages from exasperated employees who will make you grateful you don't work for their company. (Or you can have fun picking out your employer from the parade of corporate nightmares.) A fun read, but Adams's mocking humor still zings best through his cartoons. By Yvonne Zipp.
5. THE RUN OF HIS LIFE: THE PEOPLE VS. O.J. SIMPSON, by Jeffrey Toobin, Random House, $25
If you're only going to read one book on O.J., consider making it this one. Toobin, an up-and-coming New Yorker magazine writer who sat through the whole trial, combines a penchant for detail with eminently readable prose. His thesis: O.J. Simpson killed his wife and her friend - a fact Toobin says even some of Simpson's lawyers admit. In the absence of any other defense, they played the race card with little regard for the consequences this move would have on American society. By Abraham McLaughlin.
6. SIMPLE ABUNDANCE, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, Warner, $17.95
A spiritual self-help book for the "modern woman," a how-to book that offers to overcome stress and assist in self-discovery with topical readings on gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty, and joy. There is a reading for each day of the calendar year. Like modern gold-mining - 30 tons of shoveled dirt to find one ounce of gold - there are pages of platitudes before hitting an original insight. The author's appearance on Oprah Winfrey show catapulted this book onto bestseller lists. By Jim Bencivenga.
7. UNLIMITED ACCESS, by Gary Aldrich, Regnery, $24.95
FBI agent Gary Aldrich was appalled by the Clinton staff. Charged with performing security checks on all White House employees, he was privy to much personal information. Some of Aldrich's criticism stems from his generation gap, like his dislike of Clinton staffers' longer hair and shorter skirts. More legitimate is his disgust with widespread drug use and sex between staffers in White House offices. Aldrich's reliance on unproved allegation and rumor casts a pall on his book. By Abraham McLaughlin.
8. UNDAUNTED COURAGE, by Stephen E. Ambrose, Simon & Schuster, $30
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.
9. HOW GOOD DO WE HAVE TO BE?, by Harold S. Kushner, Little, Brown $21.95
Kushner's basic premise is that God doesn't expect people to be perfect and loves them in spite of their imperfection. Instead of feeling guilty and blaming others for whatever is wrong in our lives, we should be more godlike by forgiving our friends, our parents, and our chlidren for their imperfections. Kushner focuses on child/parent relationships using many examples of the forgiveness theory. He says things several times in several different ways, but he is basically saying the same thing. By Janet Moller.
10. SLOUCHING TOWARDS GOMORRAH: MODERN LIBERALISM..., by Robert Bork, HarperCollins $25
Conservative scholar Robert Bork presents a scathing treatise about American intellect in decline. America possesses a "hedonistic," "enfeebled" culture, he says. Modern liberalism, from the 1960s, is the root of the problem. His jeremiad covers varied subjects such as crime, radical feminism, rap music and the Supreme Court. The court, he claims, is "responsible in no small measure for all that has gone wrong in our culture." He would let Congress overrule the Supreme Court. By Leigh Montgomery
11. ALL TOO HUMAN, by Edward Klein, Pocket Books, $23
An intimate, titillating glimpse into the complex personal and social lives of President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie. Central to the book are details of Kennedy's compulsive womanizing and Jackie's accommodation to her husband's prolific adulteries as well as her own infidelities. Class issues and politics of the Kennedy clan are conveyed in a conversational, gossipy style. A soap opera about the lives of a rich and famous couple who happened to be Mr. and Mrs. President. By Jim Bencivenga.
12. 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.
13. ANGELA'S ASHES, by Frank McCourt, Scribners, $23
Alcoholism. Poverty. Hunger. This is what Frank McCourt knew growing up in the 1930s and '40s, first as a small immigrant boy in Brooklyn, N.Y., and later in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. It was a "miserable Irish Catholic childhood" - too little food, a father who drank away his dole money, siblings who died young - but out of this misery comes something surprising: a beautifully written story that's moving, hopeful, even humorous. Like its author, the book transcends the gloom. By Suzanne MacLachlan.
14. 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 conclusions of scientists do not limit one's prospects for success, no matter how troubled one's childhood. By David Holmstrom.
15. DOWNSIZE THIS!: RANDOM THREATS..., by Michael Moore, Crown, $21
This book of essays is ostensibly satirical humor about current American politics and society. Moore is best known for his championing of working Americans facing hard times and his dislike of corporate entities. The humor here, though, is unclear, juvenile, and often tasteless. What is clear is a leftist-biased, meanspirited whine written with anger and foul language. A few interesting insights do not make up for pages and pages of carping. It is not worth the effort to read this book. By Terri Theiss.
*Bestselling Ranking from Publishers Weekly, September 30, 1996