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Bestsellers

Culture | The five best-selling nonfiction hardbacks as measured by placement on four leading lists as of Dec. 5

Issue: "Mad Dash," Dec. 16, 2000
Scoring system: 10 points for first place down to 1 for 10th on The New York Times list (4,000 bookstores, plus wholesalers), the American Booksellers Association list (independent, sometimes highbrow stores),USA Today (3,000 large-inventory bookstores), and Amazon.com (Web purchases).
1
The O'Reilly Factor
Bill O'Reilly 37 points (NYT: 1st; ABA: 1st; USA Today: 3rd; Amazon: 2nd)
PLOT
Bill O'Reilly is a talk show pugilist, and his book is full of his opinions on just about everything.

GIST
The Fox News Channel's O'Reilly prides himself on scolding both right and left. On religion he says, "Religion is primarily a way to examine my conscience and spend some time thinking about something more important than my own existence."

WORLDVIEW
Libertarian curmudgeon.

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CAUTION
N/A

2
The Beatles Anthology
The Beatles 35 points (NYT: 2nd; ABA: 4th; USA Today: 2nd; Amazon: 1st)
PLOT
Encyclopedic book about the Beatles written by the Beatles.

GIST
Group members try to make sense out of the Beatles phenomenon. John Lennon's thoughts are taken from many sources, including published interviews. The book includes candid photographs, memorabilia, and recollections from friends and associates.

WORLDVIEW
Nostalgic radicalism.

CAUTION
Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll.

3
A Short Guide to Happiness
Anna Quindlen 24 points (NYT: not listed; ABA: 2nd; USA Today: 4th; Amazon: 3rd)
PLOT
A very short book full of sentiments about how to live a good life.

GIST
This bit of puffery has 29 pages of photographs, 18 diminutive pages of text, and a $12.95 price tag. Learn from the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist her wisdom for living: "I learned to love the journey, not the destination"; "look at the view"; "I show up, I listen, I try to laugh."

WORLDVIEW
Sentimental liberalism.

CAUTION
N/A

4
Who Moved My Cheese?
Spencer Johnson 23 points (NYT: not listed; ABA: 5th; USA Today: 1st; Amazon: 4th)
PLOT
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, don't notice when it begins to smell bad, and we hurt ourselves and our organizations when we fight to hold on to it. Cheese doesn't indicate when it is wise to resist change in order to uphold a higher principle.

WORLDVIEW
Relativism.

CAUTION
N/A

5
Nothing LIke it in the World
Stephen Ambrose 22 points (NYT: 4th; ABA: 3rd; USA Today: 9th; Amazon: 6th)
PLOT
The story of the men who built the Transcontinental Railroad and the way it changed America.

GIST
Ambrose tells stories about men overcoming problems to conquer new frontiers or win military victories. Here he writes of risk takers-both immigrant builders and capitalist funders-who sought to unite the nation the Civil War had torn asunder.

WORLDVIEW
Heroic Humanism.

CAUTION
N/A

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Harry Stein had an impeccable resumé as a writer for Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, and other left-liberal journals, until the unimaginable happened: He began to question his liberal assumptions. How I Accidentally Joined the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (and found inner peace), published by Delacorte Press, is the story of how a New York liberal became a conservative. Mr. Stein takes a sharp scalpel to the political and cultural left, slicing up its arguments and pretensions to moral superiority. He offers a checklist to see if you've joined the conspiracy: "You're actually relieved that your daughter plays with dolls and your son plays with guns." He offers insight into the progressive mind-set, which believes "that politics is holy war, that one's adversaries are not merely mistaken but evil, that they must be shown no understanding and allowed no quarter." He still has problems with some on the religious right. The old Stein believed it was "A bunch of crazed zealots out to impose their repressive, intolerant theocratic values on the rest of us. The greatest threat to our freedom." The new Stein thinks the religious right is "A bunch of crazed zealots who pretty much kept to themselves until 'progressive' zealots started imposing their values on them and theirs via popular culture and schools. The second greatest threat to our freedom." Caution: language.

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