A Monitor Guide to the Bestsellers


1. THE GREATEST GENERATION, by Tom Brokaw, Random House, $24.95 Tom Brokaw has effectively captured a cross-section of World War II veterans and their contemporaries. They revisit their pasts to tell stories of struggle, perseverance, and heroism. He was inspired by veterans he met while preparing an NBC documentary on the 40th anniversary of D-day in 1984. Fifteen years and hundreds of interviews later, Brokaw chronicles the era through the eyes of everyday men and women, as well as distinguished individuals such as George Bush, Julia Child, and Bob Dole. (352 pp.) By Stephanie Cook

2. HOW TO GET WHAT YOU WANT & WANT WHAT YOU HAVE, by John Gray, HarperCollins, $24.95. John Gray believes he has the formula for personal success: Fill the love tanks, remove the blocks, fuse elements of Western religion and Eastern meditation, and presto! You'll have a complete life makeover. The author of the "Men Are From Mars" series has graduated from relationship adviser to general counselor. He's perceptive about humanity's quirks, and following his advice won't hurt - release negative energy, increase self awareness - but the ideas and metaphors are hardly revolutionary. (320 pp.) By Kristina Lanier

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. 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

4. LIFE STRATEGIES, by Phillip C. McGraw, Disney Press, $21.95 "Life rewards action," says McGraw. If you're an idler, wake up and smell the bushes burn. Life is a game of choices, and you choose to win or lose. Outlining 10 laws of life - maxims like "You either get it or you don't" and "You create your own experience" - he argues that learning and applying the strategies are essential to becoming an effective manager of your life. The book's essence is simple: The choice is yours, so make a positive change today. (304 pp.) By Letitia Adu-Danso

5. 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

6. 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

7. 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

8. BLIND MAN'S BLUFF, by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew, Public Affairs, $25 "There are two kinds of ships: submarines and targets." Translate the bravado of that statement into a cold war espionage role for American subs, and you have the gist of this excellent work of history and investigative reporting. It recounts more than four decades of clandestine spy operations. Submariners are at ease living on auditory scraps of information, silence, and stealth. Their high-tech environment is for sonar puzzlers, always mapping targets. As this book shows, they make great spies. (352 pp.) By Jim Bencivenga

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 gratitutde, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty, and joy. There is a reading for each day of the calendar year. Like modern goldmining - 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. (Unpaged) By Jim Bencivenga

10. 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 the 27-hour documentary on PBS, 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

11. 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

12. 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

13. 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

14. PLAYING FOR KEEPS, by David Halberstam, Random House, $22.95 "Jordanologists," your dream has come true. This comprehensive book traces Michael Jordan from his youth through his glorious and tumultuous NBA career. Sprinkled with anecdotes, the story shows how he changed from an ebullient youngster to a freedom-depraved pop-culture icon. For the devoted follower, this is at times a redundant rehash of his career, and Halberstam's relentless cheerleading is sometimes annoying. But overall, it's an intriguing look at the man who revolutionized the NBA. (352 pp.) By Lane Hartill

15. DIETING WITH THE DUCHESS, by Sarah Ferguson, Simon & Schuster, $25 Haven't we heard it yet? The less you eat and the more you move, the less you will weigh! Despite these now common maxims, the publishing industry remains super-saturated with hackneyed diet books like this one - all promising a new spin or an easier struggle to shed pounds. While this latest addition has some intriguing recipes and helpful tips on dressing to accentuate your figure, nothing here is very new. Fergie's actual contribution seems gratuitous and commercial at best. (224 pp.) By Elisabetta Coletti

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