The Monitor's Guide to Bestsellers

1. NOTHING LIKE IT IN THE WORLD, by Stephen Ambrose, Simon & Schuster, $28

Last week: 3

Weeks on list: 48

By Keith HendersonWith the completion of the transcontinental railroad, a cross-country transit that had once taken months - with many life-threatening dangers - could now be safely accomplished in a week. Time and space, it seemed, had been conquered. Along with this achievement, Ambrose writes about the diverse group of men who conceived and carried out this project. He points out that although these men were hardly heroes in the moral sense, the work they undertook was indeed heroic. (431 pp.) By Keith Henderson

Audio available. The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: favorable Kirkus Review of Books: unfavorable Washington Post: favorable

2. THE BEATLES ANTHOLOGY, Chronicle Books, $60

Last week: 4

Weeks on list: 9

By John KeheIf you're looking for a gift for a Beatlemaniac, this huge, 367-page opus is the ultimate fanzine. It's full of gossip, anecdotes (both amusing and un-), and many never-before-seen pictures. You'll find interviews galore (but little new insight) with Paul, George, and Ringo along with John (last quoted in 1980) sounding as irascible and insouciant as ever. While not as revolutionary as their music, this book is a fat, fun commemoration of an extraordinary time and the working-class lads who still hold the world's fascination. (368 pp.) By John Kehe

Audio available. The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: favorable Kirkus Review of Books: no review noted Boston Globe: favorable

3. THE O'REILLY FACTOR, by Bill O'Reilly, Broadway, $23

Last week: 1

Weeks on list: 10

By David S. HauckThe host of the popular cable news program of the same name takes on politics, celebrity, race, and religion - and that's just in the introduction! His frank social commentary, disdain for hypocrisy, and challenge to today's popular institutions are refreshing. He claims most mainstream media outlets have gone soft, kow-towing to groups they should be investigating. Unfortunately, his style often reads like fortune-cookie punditry. Like him or not, he is definitely a factor. (224 pp.) By David S. Hauck

Audio available. The Christian Science Monitor: mixed The New York Times: no review noted Kirkus Review of Books: no review noted USA Today: favorable

4. PARIS TO THE MOON, by Adam Gopnik, Random House, $24.95

Last week: 7

Weeks on list: 6

By Christy Ellington"The man in the moon is smiling," or so the song says, and if he is, it's due to Gopnik's book. In 1995, this New Yorker uprooted himself and his family to Paris to act as a portal between two cultures. Capturing his daily life in Paris, Gopnik provides insights on the effect of globalization on one of the world's most fantastic cities. Walking through parks and eating at cafes with Gopnik, readers will feel the spark of understanding a world that's beginning to see we all truly do live under one moon. (354 pp.) By Christy Ellington Audio available. The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: favorable Kirkus Review of Books: favorable Publishers Weekly: favorable

5. THE SIBLEY GUIDE TO BIRDS, by The National Audubon Society, Knopf, $35

Last week: 6 Weeks on list: 9

By Jim Bencivenga This is a birder's bird book. It's beautiful. The author's watercolors - 6,600 of them on 810 North American species - and lucid text elevate this guide to instant classic status. The one possible negative: Beginners may find the book has too much information, as if tripping a feathered law of diminishing returns. For some it may be too heavy to be a field guide, but anyone interested in birds will want it at home as a reference. Hardcore birders already know about it. And if they don't, it makes a great Christmas gift. (544 pp.) By Jim Bencivenga

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: no review noted Kirkus Review of Books: no review noted Newsday: favorable

6. A SHORT GUIDE TO A HAPPY LIFE, by Anna Quindlen, Random House, $12.95

Last week: 2

Weeks on list: 5 By Kim RisedorphAward-winning columnist Anna Quindlen draws on her own experience as well as the writings of others in this tiny volume offering advice on how to live a meaningful life. Stunning black-and-white photographs take up 30 of the 50 pages and accentuate the core message: Simplicity and the pleasure of friendship give value to each day. The book can be read in less than half an hour, but the familiar message might take a lifetime to digest. (64 pp.) By Kim Risedorph

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: no review noted Kirkus Review of Books: no review noted Selected reviews: no review noted

7. WHO MOVED MY CHEESE? by Spencer Johnson, Putnam, $19.95

Last week: 5

Weeks on list: 48

By Christy EllingtonUsing a children's book style, Johnson tells the story of two mice, two mini-men, and their never-ending search for cheese. The cheese represents the things people want out of life, and the characters portray all the patterns we fall into as we search for our cheese. The format makes the book's "keep life moving by overcoming fear" philosophy easy to remember. This quick read of simple ideas will provide at least one character to relate to and some advice to hold on to during a busy day. (94 pp.) By Christy Ellington

Audio available The Christian Science Monitor: mixed The New York Times: no review noted Kirkus Review of Books: no review noted USA Today: mixed

8. MAESTRO, by Bob Woodward, Simon & Schuster, $25

Last week: 9

Weeks on list: 3

By David R. FrancisEver since Watergate, Woodward's books have been sought for the inside political story. So it is with "Maestro." He tells how Alan Greenspan became chairman of the Federal Reserve, of his disputes with the Bush presidency, of his alliance with Clinton, and how he managed dissent among Fed policymakers. There is plenty of juice, complete with quotes that although close in substance couldn't be exact. It shows just how important the central bank is to politicians, the economy, and thence the public. (288 pp.) By David R. Francis

Audio available The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: no review noted Kirkus Review of Books: no review noted Business Week: mixed

9. IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, by Nathaniel Philbrick, Viking, $24.95

Last week: 8

Weeks on list: 24

By Noel PaulPhilbrick recounts the tragedy of the whaleship Essex, which sunk after being rammed by a sperm whale west of South America. Melville modeled the end of "Moby Dick" on the 1820 incident. Philbrick uses the recently discovered journal of the ship's cabin boy to create a vivid narrative of the voyage, including the survivors' concessions to cannibalism. He includes historical information without slowing the narrative's pace or neglecting the personal stories of the ship's crew. National Book Award winner. (238 pp.) By Noel Paul

Audio available The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: favorable Kirkus Review of Books: favorable Boston Globe: favorable

10. TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE, by Mitch Albom, Doubleday, $21

Last week: not noted

Weeks on list: 54

By Jim Bencivenga A beloved college professor who is dying agrees to meet each Tuesday with a former student and discuss life and death. 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

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: mixed Kirkus Review of Books: favorable Los Angeles Times: mixed

11. IN TUSCANY, by Frances Mayes, Broadway, $35

Last week: 10

Weeks on list: 4

By Jennifer WolcottIf ever a book was made for the armchair traveler, it's this one. In fact, forget the armchair. After a few pages, readers will be transported to a seat at the Tuscan table, swirling a forkful of tagliatelle coated with duck sauce and enjoying warm rosemary foccacia. The descriptive words together with the evocative photographs convey the abundance of Tuscan life even more vividly than Mayes's previous memoirs. Those who can't spring for a trip may find this one, for a mere $35, almost as memorable. (240 pp.) By Jennifer Wolcott

Audio available The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: no review noted Kirkus Review of Books: no review noted Publisher's Weekly: favorable

12. ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY, by David Sedaris, Little, Brown & Co., $22.95

Last week: 14

Weeks on list: 29

By Daphne EviatarFrom temping as a Macy's Christmas elf to enduring the humiliation of French class in Paris, Mr. Sedaris's peculiar genius lies in his ability to transform the mortification of everyday life into wildly entertaining art. His third book is another compilation of hysterical essays, many originally broadcast on National Public Radio or published in Esquire. The first half of his new book is devoted to stories about childhood, and the second half to tales of his new life in France. (272 pp.) (See interview June 8.) By Daphne Eviatar

Audio available The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: favorable Kirkus Review of Books: no review noted Seattle Times: favorable

13. AN INVITATION TO THE WHITE HOUSE, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Simon & Schuster, $35

Last week: not noted

Weeks on list: 1

By Francine KieferWhen you pick up "An Invitation to the White House," what you get is a 300-page, high-gloss brochure. It's self- serving, with Hillary, a.k.a. Martha Stewart, as tour guide. That said, it's a fun look at life and entertainment at the executive mansion. The many photos of this coffee-table book are the best part. My favorite: the first couple and late King Hussein and his wife at lunch on the Truman balcony. No fancy fare, just good ol' hamburgers! And speaking of food, the last chapter features White House recipes. (324 pp.) By Francine Kiefer

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: favorable Kirkus Review of Books: no review noted Chicago Sun Times: favorable

14. JOE DIMAGGIO, by Richard Ben Cramer, Simon & Schuster, $28

Last weeek: 13

Weeks on list: 7

By Terry W. HartleAccording to Cramer in this sensational, well-written biography, Joe DiMaggio, the man who led the New York Yankees to 10 pennants and nine World Series championships, was a lonely man who wanted to remain an enigma. He almost never spoke to reporters, and expected those who knew him to do the same. This presents a huge problem for a biographer, but Cramer overcomes it by using his skills as an investigative journalist. The result, without any help from the subject, is terrific. (560 pp.) By Terry W. Hartle

Audio available The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: unfavorable Kirkus Review of Books: no review noted Boston Globe: mixed

15. FOUNDING BROTHERS, by Joseph Ellis, Knopf, $26

Last week: 15

Weeks on list: 3

By Kendra NordinImagine a dinner party with the Founding Fathers. Amid displays of loyal brotherhood, the conversation would inevitably be barbed with disdainful comments. Ellis deals with the famous characters candidly, causing a legendary generation of political leaders suddenly to seem more human. Hamilton, Jefferson, Washington, and others spring to life without sagging under the weight of historical detail. Written in a fresh, engaging style, it's easy to remember why character really did matter to the brothers of the Revolution. (288 pp.) By Kendra Nordin

The Christian Science Monitor: favorable The New York Times: favorable Kirkus Review of Books: favorable Chicago Tribune: favorable

Selected reviews may include: The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, USA Today, Publisher's Weekly, Newsday, Business Week, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Chicago Sun Times, and Chicago Tribune

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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