The Monitor's Guide to Bestsellers

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HARDCOVER NONFICTION

1. TALKING TO HEAVEN: A MEDIUM'S MESSAGE...., by James Van Praagh, Dutton/Signet, $22.95

(Last week 1, Weeks on list 11)

In "Talking to Heaven: A Medium's Message of Life After Death," James Van Praagh defines many aspects of psychic phenomena and gives examples from his own experience. He rejects organized religion and offers a conveniently eclectic mix of spiritualism, pop psychology, and Christianity, as well as New Age, Eastern, and Gnostic thought. The author discusses at length contacting departed loved ones by developing one's psychic abilities.

By Debra Jones

 

 The Christian Science Monitor  The New York Times  Kirkus Review of Books  Selected Reviews*

2. ANGELA'S ASHES: A MEMOIR, by Frank McCourt, Scribner, $23

(Last week 3, Weeks on list 78)

"Angela's Ashes," Frank McCourt's brilliant and tender memoir of his miserable Irish Catholic childhood in Limerick, Ireland, is a deeply moving story and a very funny book. Angela was McCourt's mother. The story begins in Brooklyn during the Depression as she tries to hold the family together; later, because of his father's alcoholism the family is forced to return to Ireland, where McCourt discovers Shakespeare and language. It is a book of splendid humanity.

By Devon McNamara

 

 The Christian Science Monitor  The New York Times  Kirkus Review of Books  (PJ) Selected Reviews*

3. THE 9 STEPS TO FINANCIAL FREEDOM, by Suze Orman, Crown Publishing, $23

(Last week -, Weeks on list 1)

This book earns high marks, and stands apart from others in the genre, because it pays attention to the way people regard money, not just how they use it. Its goal is to remove both the fear and love of money. And the first three of the nine steps address those attitudes. The goal isn't to get rich; it's to get rational. And once you've stopped letting your money manage you, you can take the rest of the six steps. A basic, easy to understand approach to investing and planning.

By Lynde McCormick

 

 The Christian Science Monitor  The New York Times  Kirkus Review of Books  Selected Reviews*

4. SIMPLE ABUNDANCE, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, Warner, $18.95

(Last week 2, Weeks on list 103)

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 one hits an original insight. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" spotlighted this book.

By Jim Bencivenga

 

 The Christian Science Monitor  The New York Times  Kirkus Review of Books  (G) Selected Reviews*

5. THE MILLIONAIRE NEXT DOOR, by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko, Longstreet, $22

(Last week 5, Weeks on list 37)

After two decades of analyzing wealth, Professors Stanley and Danko provide extensive demographic profiles of Americans with assets of $1 million or more. They conclude that lavish spending habits are the stuff of Hollywood myth. Most millionaires, they say, have succeeded through business efficiency as well as frugality, not inheritance. In summary: To amass wealth, one must invest well and spend less.

By Leigh Montgomery

 The Christian Science Monitor  The New York Times  Kirkus Review of Books  (WS) Selected Reviews*

6. TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, by Mitch Albom, Doubleday, $19.95

(Last week 4, Weeks on list 21)

A beloved college professor who is dying agrees to meet each Tuesday with a former student and discuss life and death. The 14 "classes" are recorded by Mitch Albom, a well-known sportswriter, with his former teacher, Morrie Schwartz. Religion, family, friends, and work are carefully considered. Schwartz (now deceased) was interviewed at home by Ted Koppel and appeared on "Nightline." What keeps this uplifting book from being maudlin is Albom's crisp writing - and the generous heart of Schwartz.

By Jim Bencivenga

 

 The Christian Science Monitor  The New York Times  Kirkus Review of Books  (LA) Selected Reviews*

7. CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD, BOOK I, by Neale Donald Walsch, Putnam, $19.95

(Last week 7, Weeks on list 58)

Written in a simple, accessible style, this book is based on what the author, the founder of an Oregon-based organization called ReCreation, describes as a three-year conversation with God that he transcribed. It contains some substantial insights and flashes of humor. God is described as an all-good, omnipotent Being, who is constantly communicating with all people. Prayer is described as a process, not a petition. First of three books.

By Abraham T. McLaughlin

 

 The Christian Science Monitor  The New York Times  Kirkus Review of Books  (BH) Selected Reviews*

8. SPIN CYCLE, by Howard Kurtz, Simon & Schuster, $25

(Last week 10, Weeks on list 2)

Throw cagey White House administrators, keen-nosed reporters, and sensitive news items into the wash and you've got "Spin Cycle." Reporter Howard Kurtz offers a readable look at how the White House packages news and the tactics it uses to manage the media. You'll never watch briefings from the White House press room quite the same way again. Even so, one wonders how Kurtz obtained some of the "quotes" he attributes to top officials. And carefully crafted statements give "Spin Cycle" its own decided "spin."

By Kristina Lanier

 

 The Christian Science Monitor  The New York Times  Kirkus Review of Books  (WS) Selected Reviews*

9. INTO THIN AIR, by Jon Krakauer, Villard, $24.95

(Last week 9, Weeks on list 47)

Krakauer writes compellingly that he wanted his personal account of a guided tour up Mt. Everest to have a raw, ruthless sort of honesty, and it does. On May 10, 1996, nine of his fellow climbers, including three guides, were killed in a storm that swept the mountain. Krakauer hoped "that writing the book might purge Everest from my life. It hasn't, of course." Readers of this book will never think of the world's highest peak in quite the same way again.

By Suzanne MacLachlan

 

 The Christian Science Monitor  The New York Times  Kirkus Review of Books  (WP) Selected Reviews*

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

(Last week 6, Weeks on list 163)

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

By Abraham T. McLaughlin

 

 The Christian Science Monitor  The New York Times  Kirkus Review of Books  (OS) Selected Reviews*

11. DON'T WORRY, MAKE MONEY, by Richard Carlson, Hyperion, $15.95

(Last week 8, Weeks on list 17)

Carlson has twice hit the bestseller list by telling people what most of them already know. But he succeeds by taking big, broad strategies for living and breaking them down into bite-sized, easily remembered and understood pieces. He also offers a pleasing switch from most money books. He doesn't tell you how to get rich. He suggests ways to find peace of mind, a zone that opens the door to opportunities to make and save money. He suggests that you start from a position of strength, then move on to the details.

By Lynde McCormick

 The Christian Science Monitor  The New York Times  Kirkus Review of Books  Selected Reviews*

12. TITANIC, by Susan Wels, Time-Life, $34.95

(Last week 11, Weeks on list 2)

A historical picture book of the 1912 tragedy. Beginning with the construction of the massive cruise ship, "Titanic" takes the reader up through the night of April 14 and then recounts the exploration since then. While fascinating in its details and pictures, the recollection of the vanguard ship gives little insight beyond what the movie reveals. Too much time is spent on the exploration procedure and not enough exposing little known facts and insights about the voyage.

By Kerry A. Flatley

 The Christian Science Monitor  The New York Times  Kirkus Review of Books  Selected Reviews*

13. THE MAN WHO LISTENS TO HORSES, by Monty Roberts, Random House, $23

(Last week 14, Weeks on list 29)

Roberts talks the language of horses, and they listen. Equus is the name he gives this silent language, developed over a lifetime of tireless reading of the body movements of "flight" animals such as the horse, mule, and even deer. This autobiography reveals the love, patience, and endurance of one man able to coax horses to voluntarily step out of their wild natures into a working relationship with people. Roberts troubled childhood mirrored the cruel techniques of his father's approach to horse breaking.

By Jim Bencivenga

 

 The Christian Science Monitor  The New York Times  Kirkus Review of Books  (ST) Selected Reviews*

14. THE LONG HARD ROAD OUT OF HELL, by Marilyn Manson with Neil Strauss, Regan Books, $24

(Last week 13, Weeks on list 6)

If the Marquis de Sade had a son in a hard-rock band who wrote a book, this would be the book. The author is deliberately shocking and offensive - in word, photo, and illustration. He portrays his life as a quest to be the anti-Christ. Sadly, it's more like the cartoon character Sid in the movie "Toy Story," who tortures and mutilates any toys that fall into his possession. Manson sees himself as "the boy that you loved is the man that you feared." Boy he was, and still is.

By Jim Bencivenga

 

 The Christian Science Monitor  The New York Times  Kirkus Review of Books  (CS) Selected Reviews*

15. LOVE AND SURVIVAL, by Dean Ornish, HarperCollins, $25

(Last week 12, Weeks on list 2)

Dean Ornish tells us what we already know: Open relationships with our families, our communities and ourselves are good for us. Dr. Ornish points to medical research to support claims that those with strong, loving relationships have strong and healthy hearts. He also draws on the collective wisdom of ancient sages, spiritual leaders, and noted contemporary thinkers. Conversational writing, level, easy to understand.

By Kendra Nordin

 

 The Christian Science Monitor  The New York Times  Kirkus Review of Books  (HC) Selected Reviews*

BESTSELLER RANKING FROM PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, MARCH 30

*Providence Journal; Gannett News; Wall Street Journal; L.A. Times; Boston Herald; Washington Post; Orlando Sentinel; Seattle Times; Chicago Sun-Times; Hartford Courant

 

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