THE MONITOR'S GUIDE TO BESTSELLING HARDCOVER NONFICTION
1. 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.
2. OUTRAGE, by Vincent Bugliosi, W.W. Norton, $25
Bugliosi, former L.A. County deputy district attorney, who prosecuted Charles Manson, among others, makes two assertions: O.J. Simpson is beyond-the-shadow-of-a-doubt guilty of killing his ex-wife and her friend; and that everyone involved in the "trial of the century" - from the media to the "Dream team" of defense lawyers, and especially the prosecution - were totally incompetent. The obnoxiousness of Bugliosi's egotistical tone is offset by the strength of his arguments. By Abraham McLaughlin.
3. THE CHOICE, by Bob Woodward, Simon & Schuster, $26
This book moves us from the familiar post-campaign genre to a mid-campaign tell-all. A classic Woodward reporting job, with lots of detail gleaned from interviews, especially with campaign insiders who apparently can't keep quiet. Woodward addresses an important part of the story of the 1996 presidential campaign thus far - Bill Clinton's $15 million 1995 ad campaign and Bob Dole's inability to focus on a message - but it's not the whole story. Lots of foul language. By Lawrence J. Goodrich.
4. BAD AS I WANNA BE, by Dennis Rodman, Delacorte, $22.95
The book is Rodman, the Chicago Bulls robo-rebounder, raw. Beyond his crude language and stadium-sized chip on his shoulder, Rodman spouts a few brilliant insights on the NBA, the game, and himself. As his skills attest, he is an expert on what he does. But his argument that teams should focus on fundamental basketball instead of the 1990s-style light-and-sound shows comes across as a bit hypocritical: The painted and pierced warrior himself has become a walking side show. By Faye Bowers.
5. 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.
6. PARTNERS IN POWER, by Roger Morris, Henry Holt, $27.50
If you're tired of the president and first lady getting bashed by Republicans, here is a hatchet job from the left that makes Sen. Alfonse D'Amato look like the Clintons' best friend. Morris combines an extreme-left characterization of the American political system with gossipy allegations and unsupported innuendo to accuse the first couple of far more serious crimes than Whitewater. It's hard to give the new charges of drug use and other criminal behavior much credence. By Lawrence J. Goodrich.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. IN CONTEMPT, by Christopher A. Darden, Regan, $26
Tell-all books about the O.J. Simpson trial are as plentiful these days as spring buds. But this effort by prosecutor Chris Darden rises above the rest. Darden's direct style, and his willingness to confront the racism shown by both blacks and whites in this case, make for compelling reading. Particularly interesting are Darden's views about the way the media coverage affected the trial, and how Johnnie Cochran manipulated racial tension to his client's advantage. Some vulgar language. By Tom Regan.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. THE 5-DAY MIRACLE DIET, by Adele Puhn, Ballantine, $22
This plan relies on a regimented eating plan that eliminates most sugar and carbohydrates in order to accomplish permanent weight loss and end food cravings. The author also examines psychological factors and exercise habits related to weight. Her advice about eating healthy while enjoying a few treats is useful. But the plan's guarantee to kick-start a whole new life in five days requires a degree of regimentation that should be taken with a grain of salt. By Terri Theiss.
13. RUSH LIMBAUGH IS A BIG FAT IDIOT AND OTHER OBSERVATIONS, by Al Franken, Delacorte, $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.
14. 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.
15. NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO PROBLEM, by Jeff Foxworthy, Hyperion, $19.95
Jeff Foxworthy, who turned redneck humor into a thriving cottage industry with gags of "you might be a redneck if....," visits his childhood, redneck buddies, marriage, and more in his autobiography. Known for his wisecracks, this well-known stand-up and sitcom comedian on occasion wrings the fun out of humor by stretching one-liners too far for the purposes of prose. At times he's banal and raunchy. Foxworthy fans, however, will probably find him amusing, even "worthy." By Suman Bandrapalli.
*Bestseller ranking from Publishers Weekly, June 10, 1996