Reviews > Culture

Bestsellers

Culture | The five best-selling nonfiction paperbacks as measured by placement on four leading lists as of August 16

Issue: "Life after Clinton?," Aug. 26, 2000
Scoring system:10 points for first place down to 1 for 10th on the American Booksellers Association list (independent, sometimes highbrow bookstores), The New York Times list (4,000 bookstores, plus wholesalers), the USA Today list (3,000 large-inventory bookstores), and Amazon.com (Web purchases).
1
It's Not About the Bike
Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins 30 points (ABA: 5th; NYT: 1st; USA Today: 7th; Amazon.com: 1st)
CONTENT
Armstrong takes on cancer and the Tour de France and wins both.

GIST
"When I was 25, I got testicular cancer and nearly died...." Lance Armstrong didn't die. His memoir describes well his cancer and cycling battles. Readers looking for a testimony to God's grace will instead find dismissal.

WORLDVIEW
Humanism.

We see you’ve been enjoying the content on our exclusive member website. Ready to get unlimited access to all of WORLD’s member content?
Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.
(Don’t worry. It only takes a sec—and you don’t have to give us payment information right now.)

Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.

CAUTION
Foul language, description of dangerous childhood pranks.

2
Who Moved My Cheese?
Spencer Johnson, M.D. 25 points (ABA: 5th; NYT: not listed; USA Today: 1st; Amazon.com: 2nd)
CONTENT
A parable about the inevitability of change and the need to embrace it.

GIST
In the parable, cheese makes us happy. We get accustomed to it, develop an entitlement attitude toward it, and don't notice when it begins to smell bad or disappear. The parable, however, doesn't show how to discern when it is wise or necessary to resist change to uphold a higher principle.

WORLDVIEW
Relativism.

CAUTION
N/A

3
Tuesdays with Morrie
Mitch Albom 21 points (ABA: 2nd; NYT: 1st; USA Today: 2nd; Amazon.com: 8th)
CONTENT
Conversations of a middle-aged sportswriter searching for purpose and the articulate, witty, caring professor who taught him 20 years before.

GIST
Morrie Schwartz, dying of Lou Gehrig's disease, probes Mitch Albom's motivations: "Are you giving to the community? Are you at peace with yourself?"

WORLDVIEW
Chasing material things is shallow; the answer lies in a mix of Buddhism, Christianity, and Judaism.

CAUTION
N/A

4
Me Talk Pretty One Day
David Sedaris 20 points (ABA: 2nd; NYT: 7th; USA Today: not listed; Amazon.com: 4th)
CONTENT
A series of self-absorbed essays starring Sedaris and his family.

GIST
Autobiographical essays find humor in the perversities of his family. He writes about his childhood speech therapy class-full of lisping, unathletic boys-and imagining future homosexuals. He'd like to be an artist, he thinks, because he'd have a studio full of naked men.

WORLDVIEW
Naturalism.

CAUTION
Foul language, foul ideas.

5
In the Heart of the Sea
Nathaniel Philbrick 15 points (ABA: 4th; NYT: 8th; USA Today: not listed; Amazon.com: 6th)
CONTENT
A gripping account of the 1820 sinking of the whaleship Essex and the struggle for survival of its 21-member crew.

GIST
Nathaniel Philbrick writes of a whaling disaster that became the basis for Melville's Moby Dick. Philbrick brings his tale to life by skillfully weaving in information about sailing, current research on starvation, and other survivor stories.

WORLDVIEW
Naturalism.

CAUTION
N/A

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Although he appeared in over 50 films and 75 plays (and won an Oscar for his part in Bridge on the River Kwai), the late Sir Alec Guinness was perhaps best known for his role as Obi Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars trilogy. Guinness was uncomfortable with this notoriety; when a 12-year-old Star Wars fan, accompanied by his mother, boasted to him that he had seen the movie more than 100 times, Guinness asked the boy to promise never to see Star Wars again. The boy burst into tears and the mother lectured Sir Alec, but Guinness hoped the point he was trying to make got through: Real life has more to offer than "a fantasy world of secondhand, childish banalities." Guinness, a believing Catholic, opposed abortion and was married to his wife for more than 60 years. His last book, an unstructured journal aptly titled A Positively Final Appearance, is full of observations about life as an octogenarian, an actor, and an Englishman. His cultivated taste and intelligence allow him to hold forth on subjects as varied as the Labour Party, Charles Dickens, and dogs, while his self-deprecating humor keeps the reader comfortable. Although the discursive nature of the book may lose some readers, overall it is a revealing picture of a man who was much more than an empty brown robe.

Comments

You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading

    Advertisement