The Monitor's Guide To Bestsellers
1. 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 book 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
2. 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
3. A PIRATE LOOKS AT FIFTY, by Jimmy Buffett, Random House, $24.95
Buffett's rambling narrative about his life as he passes the half-century mark doesn't try to be a straight autobiography. It's more a collection of vignettes. Buffett goes fishing. Buffett learns to fly a plane. Middle-aged Buffett reflects on life. The book is filled with his musings on life and lessons learned. Fans will love the glimpse at the rocker's weirdly refreshing world. And even non-Buffett fans might be charmed by his honesty, refusal to be a spoiled celebrity, and appreciation for his family, fans, and good fortune. By Kristina Lanier
4. 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
5. MARS AND VENUS STARTING OVER, by John Gray, HarperCollins Publishers, $25 The man from Mars/Venus is at it once more. Gray reminds us, again, that men and women are different. The sexes approach grief and recover from its effects differently. Gray records various coping methods in dealing with grief, from creating long lists of emotions, to writing letters of forgiveness. More than once he mentions that time heals all.
By Janet Moller
6. ANGELA'S ASHES: A MEMOIR, by Frank McCourt, Scribner, $23
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. A WALK IN THE WOODS, by Bill Bryson, Doubleday, $25 Be prepared for a verbal romp over hill and dale, swamp and forest, on the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail. Bill Bryson has the wryest sense of humor of any current American writer. His self-mocking rendition of how he spent a small fortune buying the "necessary" high-tech camping gear for his expedition is hilarious. The hype about potential diseases, snakebites, and catastrophes encountered on the multi-month hike makes the point that only the well-conditioned or foolhardy tackle this trail. By Jim Bencivenga
8. 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
9. HE 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
10. MARILU HENNER'S HEALTH MAKEOVER, by Marilu Henner with Laura Morton, Reagan Books, $24 Here comes one more calorie-counting, I-feel-so-energetic-now diet book. What's new and different: an amazing 16-page color-photo time line of Marilu's fluctuating weight since 1971. (The amazing part is that she recorded her weight for every photo.) In between calorie counts, Marilu also offers an insider's look at an actress's climb to Broadway and television success. The lasting impression of this book is self-obsession. By Kendra Nordin
11. A MONK SWIMMING, by Malachy McCourt, Harcourt Brace, $23.95
If I hadn't loved "Angela's Ashes" by Frank, Malachy's older brother, I wouldn't have read past the first few pages of this version of the McCourt children, abandoned by a drunken father and betrayed by a mother who slept with a hated cousin to make ends meet. This is an angry, bitter book by an author who swears and drinks throughout. "Angela's Ashes" created tremendous interest in this Irish immigrant family from Limerick, but there's no need to read Malachy's vulgar version. By Jim Bencivenga
12. EAT RIGHT 4 YOUR TYPE, by Peter J. D'Adamo with Catherine, Whitney, Putnam, $22.95
In the ever-changing world of designer diets, this book takes the tack that your internal chemistry - based on blood type - determines the way you should eat and exercise. Is stress better relieved through aerobics or meditation? Are some grains more desirable than others? Depends on your blood type. Complete with recipes. The meal-plan lists and charts are easy to navigate. But some readers may be uncomfortable with the idea of thinking of certain foods as "medicines" and others as "poisons." By Kirsten Conover
13. 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
14. CITIZEN SOLDIERS, by Stephen E. Ambrose, Simon & Schuster, $27.50
Following up on his triumph with Lewis and Clark ("Undaunted Courage"), Stephen Ambrose has written another superb book that weaves history into compelling human drama. The front-line soldier, often still in his teens, tells the story. His heroism and the brutality of his fox-hole-bound existence are unstintingly portrayed. So are the failings - sometimes shocking - of his superior officers. This book is an eye-opener, showing both the heights of character forged by war and war's depths. By Keith Henderson
15. WE ARE OUR MOTHERS' DAUGHTERS, by Cokie Roberts, William Morrow & Co., $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
THE MONITOR'S PICK
SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION: SCIENTISTS DISCUSS THEIR BELIEFS
Edited by John Marks Templeton and Kenneth Seeman Giniger
Templeton Foundation Press
224 pp., $22
For some scientists, science cannot uncover the whole story. To inscribe the nature of life in its full meaning requires going beyond description of the physical world. Practicing science may inform and be informed by a spiritual journey.
"Spiritual Evolution" is an engaging set of personal essays exploring how 10 prominent scientists have sought to integrate what they were learning professionally with their intuitions and perspectives.
Biologist Charles Birch and medical doctor Larry Dossey, for example, write of their passages from fundamentalist childhoods through loss of faith during scientific studies into deep spiritual convictions that influenced their careers. Birch finds a meaningful perspective on evolution and the conviction that "mentality cannot arise from no-mentality." Dossey discusses a "vision of the world that is inherently spiritual."
S. Jocelyn Bell Burnell, an astronomer who discovered pulsars, writes of her Quaker experience and the "felt presence" of God in everyday life, whether or not "S(He) created the physical universe 15 billion years ago."
This small volume also speaks to the "false choice," in Dossey's words, that young science students are pressed to make between science and the spiritual. This has "caused immense pain for millions of questing, bright young people" who are told they must choose between being "rational, analytical, logical, and scientific" or "intuitive, religious, spiritual, and intellectually reckless."