1. IN THE MEANTIME, by Iyanla Vanzant, Simon & Schuster, $23
Finding the right kind of romance is a bit like spring cleaning says author Vanzant who describes love as a three-story house. There is progression from the basement where we "store" our parents' values, to the first floor where we confront our fears, all the way to the attic, where we learn how to accept ourselves unconditionally. Insightful at times, she is repetitive but conversational and easy to read. Her advice seems like common sense. If nothing else, the house metaphor may inspire cleaning the closet. Literally. By Kendra Nordin
2. WE ARE OUR MOTHERS' DAUGHTERS, by Cokie Roberts, Morrow, $19.95
In this warm, sometimes witty, and often wise collection of brief essays on "woman's place," TV host and radio reporter Cokie Roberts reflects on relationships, opportunities, challenges, and issues for women in their roles as sisters, mothers, daughters, friends, wives, and workers. Her own career in journalism is a case study of the changing attitudes toward women in the workplace. Upbeat, but always cleareyed, Roberts concludes that woman's place is now everywhere.
By Ruth Johnstone Wales
3. TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, by Mitch Albom, Doubleday, $19.95
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
4. THE 9 STEPS TO FINANCIAL FREEDOM, by Suze Orman, Crown Publishing, $23
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
5. STILL ME, by Christopher Reeve, Random House, $25
In his candid autobiography, Reeve weaves in the story of his youth and rise to fame around the details of his life after a riding accident left him paralyzed. Be prepared - he spares no details about his medical condition. His candor is effective and the chapters covering his acting career are engrossing, but Reeve goes extra heavy on the name-dropping, pronouncements about his dedication to family, and personal agenda. The book also unwittingly makes the privileges afforded to those with celebrity status all too clear. By Kristina Lanier
6. ANGELA'S ASHES: A MEMOIR, by Frank McCourt, Scribner, $23
"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
7. THE MAN WHO LISTENS TO HORSES, by Monty Roberts, Random House, $23
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. Robert's troubled childhood mirrored the cruel techniques of his father's approach to horse-breaking. By Jim Bencivenga
8. SUGAR BUSTERS, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, Morrison C. Bethea, Ballantine, $22
Three MDs and one CEO cooked up this latest opinion on the best way to trim your waistline. Complete with graphs and low-sugar recipes this books focuses on insulin levels in the bloodstream. If you aren't afraid of food now, you will be after reading "Sugar Busters!" Keep your summer reading on a low-blab diet and avoid this book. By Kendra Nordin
9. SIMPLE ABUNDANCE, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, Warner, $18.95
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 one hits an original insight. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" spotlighted this book. By Jim Bencivenga
10. THE GIFT OF THE JEWS, by Thomas Cahill, Doubleday, $23.50
In this second book of his "Hinges of History" series, Thomas Cahill offers the theory that the seeds of almost all the ideas we hold near and dear, and even sometimes fear (freedom, individuality, justice, compassion, capitalism, and communism) can be discovered in the story of the Jews that unfolds in the Old Testament. It is this story, unlike that of any other people on the face of the earth, that set Western civilization on its unique path. Engaging, insightful, and by a bold writer who knows how to keep his audience interested. By Tom Regan
11. TALKING TO HEAVEN: A MEDIUM'S MESSAGE...., by James Van Praagh, Dutton/Signet, $22.95
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
12. THE MILLIONAIRE NEXT DOOR, by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko, Longstreet, $22
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
13. TITAN: THE LIFE OF JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER SR., by Ron Chernow, Random House, $30.
Everything you ever wanted to know about John D. Rockefeller Sr. and then some. And then some more. In this exhaustive biography, Chernow details the confluence of environment, opportunity, and personality that combined to make an ambitious young man into an icon of capitalism. In doing so he also makes the icon a human being. Recent events vis--vis Bill Gates and the Justice Department's antitrust actions give "Titan" added relevance. Everything old is new again. By Phelippe Salazar
14. MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL, by John Berendt, Random House, $23
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
15. CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD, BOOK I, by Neale Donald Walsch, Putnam, $19.95
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
LEANING INTO THE WIND: WOMEN WRITE FROM THE HEART OF THE WEST
Edited by Nancy Curtis, Linda Hasselstrom, and Gaydell Collier, Houghton Mifflin
388 pp., $25
The mythic American "cowboy" - a rugged, suntanned man with hat, boots, and swagger - seems more real than the real thing. Lest this happen to the American "cowgirl," three ranch women in Wyoming have put together a compelling anthology of farm women's stories to set the record straight.
"Leaning into the Wind: Women Write From the Heart of the West" is a treasure trove of voices that take us into the hearts, barns, and kitchens of more than 200 women in six Western states.
The women have written bits of their own life histories, simply and honestly. Published to much acclaim (and already in its third hardcover printing), the book is available in paperback.
The voices are many and marvelous. We hear from women who grew up third-generation farmers, and others who moved to ranches from New York or California "to touch the earth, and stand in the wind."
Some women choose to leave the farm - after losing a husband or after being ruined several years running by bad weather. Others cling to the land until they lose everything they own, silently sobbing as they watch the bank foreclose.
The editors work full time on ranches. It took them five years to read and edit the 12-foot stack of submissions from more than 500 women.