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Bestsellers

Books | The five best-selling nonfiction hardbacks as measured by placement on four leading lists as of May 6

Issue: "Osama's witnesses," May 18, 2002
Scoring system:10 points for first place, 9 for second, down to 1 for 10th, on the lists of the American Booksellers Association (independent, sometimes highbrow stores), The New York Times (4,000 bookstores, plus wholesalers), Publishers Weekly (general bookstores), and Amazon.com (internet purchases).
1
Stupid White Men
Michael Moore 35 points [nyt: 4th; aba: 1st; pw: 3rd; amazon: 1st]
CONTENT
A screed against the evil powers that supposedly run the United States and a handbook for political action.
GIST
In this view from the looney left, Bill Clinton is a closet Republican and Molly Ivins a genius. Remember the old jokes about President Bush's intellect and the Florida elections? They're offered up here as original wit.
CAUTION
Crudities and a blasphemy.
2
Find Me
Rosie O'Donnell 31 points [nyt: 2nd; aba: 5th; pw: 2nd; amazon: 4th]
CONTENT
A surprisingly moving book-half memoir and half encounter with a troubled person.
GIST
Rosie is an easy target for a conservative magazine: Liberal, lesbian, what more need be said? But Rosie reveals herself to have a big heart, which she acknowledges isn't always accompanied by wisdom. She portrays herself as still looking for love, approval, and meaning.
CAUTION
N/A
3
Lucky Man
Michael J. Fox 28 points [nyt: 1st; aba: 6th; pw: 1st; amazon: 8th]
CONTENT
The actor reveals how his life has changed since he was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's disease.
GIST
Mr. Fox is both candid and upbeat about his struggles with the press, alcohol, being a husband and a father, and the knowledge that he is suffering from a disorder that has no known cure. He credits his newfound maturity to therapy and a vague spirituality.
CAUTION
Profanity.
4
A Mind at a Time
Mel Levine 25 points [nyt: 3rd; aba: 4th; pw: 5th; amazon: 7th]
CONTENT
A pediatrician and -learning expert- explains the complicated task of learning and promotes methods to help every child learn.
GIST
Children's minds work differently. Some advance well through the multiplicity of tasks in school, while others struggle. But rather than labeling the others as LD or ADD, Dr. Levine advocates diagnosing the particular problems and using specific strategies to overcome them.
CAUTION
N/A
5
Self Matters
Philip C. McGraw 12 points [nyt: n/l; aba: 10th; pw: 8th; amazon: 5th]
CONTENT
Advice for those who feel lost in their lives from a psychologist praised by Oprah as a "walking, talking, in-your-face reality check."
GIST
Mr. McGraw diagnoses a problem (discontentment and unhappiness) and offers the standard self-help cure: Look within. That's where readers will discover their true selves and find personal happiness. Walking, talking nonsense.
CAUTION
N/A

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Whenever children easily learn to speak, throw a ball, read, or calculate, it is tempting to take for granted the learning process. It seems to come naturally. But when there is a breakdown in learning, the complexity of the brain and learning tasks becomes apparent. In A Mind at a Time, Dr. Mel Levine breaks down the learning process into eight systems, including attention, memory, language, spatial ordering, sequential ordering, motor, higher thinking, and social thinking systems. When any part of any one of those systems doesn't function well, trouble arises. As adults we end up in jobs that play to our strengths. But in school, children are expected to excel in all areas, leading to frustration if they are not given strategies for overcoming their weaknesses. Dr. Levine walks a careful path through several educational minefields. He acknowledges that medication can be helpful in some circumstances, but he condemns the too easy reliance on it as a remedy for underlying learning problems. He promotes strategies for helping students work around their weaknesses, but he also advocates exercises for strengthening them. He encourages parents to promote a good work ethic and to encourage their children to develop areas of interest in which they can excel.

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