A Monitor Guide To Bestsellers

Hardcover Non-Fiction

1. 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. Mitch Albom, a well-known sportswriter, recorded 14 "classes" 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 Schwartz's generous heart. (192 pp.) By Jim Bencivenga

2. THE 9 STEPS TO FINANCIAL FREEDOM, by Suze Orman, Crown, $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 the 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. (278 pp.) By Lynde McCormick

3. SOMETHING MORE, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, Little, Brown & Co., $20

What a relief to see a self-help book for women that's not about how to snag a man or lose 10 pounds in six days. Breathnach's desire to help women value their spiritual selves and rediscover a sense of joy is laudable, and her use of archaeology as a metaphor for examining one's life is clever. But her self-promoting tone can occasionally grate, and one may question whether deep life lessons can be learned from the likes of "The Bridges of Madison County." (288 pp.) By Yvonne Zipp

4. CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD (BOOK 3), by Neale Donald Walsch, Hampton Roads, $22.95 The theme of this final installment of Walsch's bestselling New Age trilogy is universal truths. The conversation - presented in dialogue form - tackles everything from whether humans have soul mates to the existence of aliens. The God in these pages is an all-knowing being who doesn't condemn people - and who eschews guilt. He simply waits for them to listen to Him and act according to the wisdom He imparts. (264 pp.) By Abraham McLaughlin

5. SUGAR BUSTERS! by H. Leighton Steward, et al., 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 reading on a low-blab diet and avoid this book. (270 pp.)

By Kendra Nordin

6. FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME, by Michael Jordan, Crown, $50

While his royal Airness continues to soar, his latest book never gets off the ground. This glossy collection of pictures takes us from his college days at North Carolina through his turbulent relationship with the Chicago Bulls' management. Jordan describes how he played with cranky teammates, dealt with Nike, and decided to play baseball. The design of the book and the limited text leave the reader wanting more. (156 pp.)

By Lane Hartill

7. IF LIFE IS A GAME, THESE ARE THE RULES, by Cheri Carter-Scott, Broadway Books, $15 The self-help cash cow just keeps stampeding along. Carter-Scott's life rules were first published anonymously in "Chicken Soup for the Soul," but they met with such wide approval that she claimed authorship and elaborates on them here. Her how-to-be advice is gracefully delivered, and it's never bad to be reminded to slow down and act with integrity, humility, and good humor. But the book lacks substance. It's primarily a peaceful float on a cloud of pretty words.

(139 pp.) By Kristina Lanier

8. DR. BOB ARNOT'S BREAST CANCER PREVENTION DIET, by Dr. Bob Arnot, Little, Brown, $23.95 Dr. Arnot, a medical journalist, wants readers to think of foods as drugs. He claims that women can significantly reduce their risk of illness by carefully controlling what they eat. The book includes detail about how disease spreads in the body and how women of different ages should choose and prepare their food. Several prominent physicians have publicly condemned the book as medically irresponsible and misleading. (256 pp.) By Ron Charles

9. THE CENTURY, by Todd Brewster and Peter Jennings, Doubleday, $60

Jennings and Brewster employ a pastiche of approaches in piecing together the past century - formal historical narrative, unfamiliar photographs, and, most striking, eye-witness accounts of events like Hiroshima, Vietnam, and Auschwitz. Conceived as a companion piece to a 27-hour documentary slated to air in 1999, the book rolls along, ticking off all that is newsworthy. But the sometimes cool tone burdens the eye-witness accounts with the task of conveying the human side of history. (608 pp.) By Ron Fletcher

10. AND THE HORSE HE RODE IN ON, by James Carville, Simon & Schuster, $14.95

Carville knows how to sling mud. Although he chooses the low road - every page of his jeering book oozes with below-the-belt "left" hooks aimed at Kenneth Starr - there's something respectable about his frankness and tenacity. After all, he's the president's most loyal, flamboyant advocate. His up-front, in-your-face style makes for light reading. Ultimately, though, his right-wing conspiracy theories, zealous political spin, and relentless Starr-bashing are too spiteful to take seriously. (128 pp.) By John Christian Hoyle

11. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, by Laura Schlessinger, HarperCollins, $24

This is the impassioned and persuasive response of radio talk-show host Laura Schlessinger to those who feel the Ten Commandments are obsolete. Exploring in depth the principle behind each and its relation to the intimate choices of daily life, she seeks to show how obeying God's laws lifts lives to new levels of joy and meaning. Converted to Judaism as an adult, she says being "chosen" means not favoritism but having an assignment to live by those laws so others come to know and love God. (320 pp.) By Jane Lampman

12. IN THE MEANTIME, by Iyanla Vanzant, Simon & Schuster, $23

Finding the right kind of romance is a bit like spring cleaning, says the author, who describes love as a three-story house. There's a 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 easy to read. Her advice seems like common sense. If nothing else, the house metaphor may inspire cleaning the closet. Literally. (288 pp.) By Kendra Nordin

13. THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN, by Simon Winchester, HarperCollins, $22

Discover the origins of words such as "serendipity" and "bedlam" as you follow the history of an American lunatic murderer who, from his asylum cell, was a major contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary in the late 19th century. This well-researched retelling drags at some points and includes a scene of shocking self-mutilation, but it thoughtfully explores the self-destructiveness of lust and the redemptive effects of hard work and intellectual pursuits. (242 pp.) By Abraham McLaughlin

14. ONE DAY MY SOUL JUST OPENED UP, by Iyanla Vanzant, Fireside, $13

Vanzant admonishes us in the opening pages to "remain open. There is something bigger than you know going on here." And that's her underlying point throughout - let go and let God work in your life. She's structured her ideas into a 40-day spiritual regeneration plan, with a daily principle to mull over, starting with "truth" and ending with "unconditional love." But many of the principles in between veer away from the spiritual toward simple suggestions on changing your outlook. (316 pp.) By Kristina Lanier

15. LINDBERGH, by A. Scott Berg, Putnam, $30

Charles Lindbergh's 1927 flight to Paris made him a hero, the kidnapping of his young son generated universal sympathy, and his views on Nazi Germany led to widespread scorn and derision. Biographer Berg was given complete access to the Lindbergh family records and has written a magisterial biography. While admiring and sympathetic, Berg also sees Lindy's shortcomings. An extraordinary book about an American icon.

(642 pp.) By Terry Hartle

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