Culture > Notable Books

Best-Selling Books

Notable Books | The Top 5 best-selling nonfiction hardbacks as of Aug. 19

1. SLANDER

33 points

CONTENT A well-documented, heavily footnoted expose of liberal bias in the press and vapidity in the marketplace of ideas.

GIST Ann Coulter skewers liberal politicians and journalists with humor and lots of specific examples. She compares liberal myths about "the religious right" and other subjects with reality.

2. THE LOBSTER CHRONICLES

21 points

CONTENT A lobster fisherman depicts life on a small island off Maine.

GIST Fishing for lobster is hard, dirty, backbreaking work, but families like Ms. Greenlaw's have been doing it for generations. As she tells the story of one year's catch, she also portrays a dying lifestyle and the efforts of residents to preserve a fragile way of life.

CAUTION Language

3. STUPID WHITE MEN

17 points

CONTENT A screed against the evil powers that supposedly run the United States.

GIST In this view from the loony left, Bill Clinton is a closet Republican and Molly Ivins a genius. Mr. Moore obviously wrote the book prior to Sept. 11, so it has the dated feel of an old yearbook.

CAUTION Crudities and a blasphemy.

4. RUNNING WITH SCISSORS

16 points

CONTENT The horrific memoir of a boy who grew up in a depraved family.

GIST Numerous reviews indicate this book is so sexually graphic that our WORLD reviewer did something extraordinary: Didn't read it. Augusten Burroughs's parents divorced and sent him to live with the mother's psychiatrist, who ran a perverse household. There Augusten became sexually involved with an older man.

5. AMONG THE HEROES

15 points

CONTENT The New York Times reporter who covered the crash of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania tells the story of its passengers.

GIST Reporter Longman, who interviewed thousands of people after Flight 93 crashed, has painstakingly reconstructed the lives of the individual passengers prior to boarding, and their actions once terrorists took over. He adds specific detail that brings the heroes' stories to life.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

"The essence of snobbery," self-confessed snob Virginia Woolf once wrote, "is that you wish to impress other people." Joseph Epstein, author of Snobbery: The American Version (Houghton Mifflin, 2002) has a harsher definition-"arranging to make yourself feel superior at the expense of other people." In his book, Mr. Epstein chronicles the ways in which this nasty trait has manifested itself in the United States, a society ostensibly without class barriers.

Mr. Epstein's mixture of anecdote, quotation, and self-deprecation allows him to criticize delightfully trends toward snobbery in every arena from jobs to clothing to food. Mr. Epstein notes that snobbery "appears here to stay" but offers the hopeful example of W.H. Auden, who claimed that for two hours on a warm June evening in 1933 he knew "what it means to love one's neighbor as oneself." Mr. Epstein writes that what Auden, a self-professed Christian, "apparently had undergone is the experience or vision, of agape, or Christian love feast, in which one feels a purity of love for all human beings, without invidious distinction of any kind, the powerfully certain feeling that one's fellows are worthy of the same respect, sympathy, and consideration as one pays oneself, wholehearted love with the power of pure objectivity behind it, how glorious it must have been to undergo-and, as Auden was too honest not to add, all but impossible to maintain."

Scoring system:10 points for first place, 9 for second, down to 1 for tenth, on the lists of the American Booksellers Association (independent, sometimes highbrow stores), The New York Times (4,000 bookstores, plus wholesalers), Publisher's Weekly (general bookstores), and The Washington Post (Washington-area stores).

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