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Best-Selling Books

Notable Books | The five best-selling nonfiction hardbacks as of Nov. 11

1. Leadership

39 points

PLOT The former New York mayor gives his prescription for leadership, drawing on his experiences as a prosecutor and mayor, especially during the 9/11 crisis.

GIST In chapters devoted to different aspects of leadership, Mr. Giuliani shows how loyalty, attention to detail, planning, and other qualities or habits allowed his administration to respond quickly and well to the 9/11 tragedy.

CAUTION None.

2. My Losing Season

36 Points

PLOT A sometimes melodramatic, sometimes lyrical glance back at Mr. Conroy's senior season as the point guard for a mediocre college basketball team.

GIST Mr. Conroy believes you can learn more from losing than from winning, and his account of that particular season becomes a vehicle for what he has learned throughout his life about everything from suffering to forgiveness.

CAUTION Bad language.

3. Longitudes and Attitudes

24 Points

PLOT A compilation of columns by Mr. Friedman, a New York Times foreign correspondent.

GIST Twice a week from his august position on the Times' opinion page, Mr. Friedman writes about international affairs, the Middle East, or whatever he wants. This book includes columns related to 9/11, travel notes that didn't make it into print, and his insights into the Muslim world after years of living and reporting from there.

CAUTION None.

4. Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy

17 Points

PLOT A biography that is also the history of a sport, of post-war Jewish culture, and of the broader culture of the early '60s.

GIST An admiring biography that focuses on Koufax as a Jewish icon due to his pitching excellence and his refusal to pitch a World Series game on Yom Kippur. Interwoven with her detailed coverage of his perfect game, she paints a lively portrait of an elusive man.

CAUTION Raw language.

5. Live from New York

11 Points

PLOT An oral history of NBC's groundbreaking comedy show Saturday Night Live, from the early days to the present.

GIST Nearly 600 pages of interviews from the writers and comedians who made SNL what it is. The book includes juicy gossip as well as sincere tributes to deceased cast members like John Belushi, Chris Farley, and Phil Hartman.

CAUTION Bad language, crude anecdotes.

In the spotlight

If his books can be trusted, Pat Conroy grew up under the authority of some very cruel people. His semi-autobiographical novel The Great Santini was about his abusive father. The Lords of Discipline was about college life in the repressive atmosphere of the Citadel. Mr. Conroy's new book, My Losing Season, is a nonfiction look back at his senior season as a point guard for the Citadel's basketball team.

Mr. Conroy still feels the pain of every bad pass he made and every crushing word from his tyrannical coach as though it happened yesterday instead of over 30 years ago. At the same time, he looks back joyfully on the moments when a sportswriter praised his play or a professor encouraged his growing ambition to be a writer. Mr. Conroy's book is full of these mood swings. He delights in the exuberance of his own language, stretches every metaphor to its limit, and makes basketball into something almost mystical. This may be off-putting to some readers, but somehow it all works together to form a book that is at least interesting, and occasionally beautiful.

Scoring System

The five best-selling nonfiction hardbacks as measured by placement on four leading lists as of Nov. 11

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), Publishers Weekly (General Bookstores) and The Washington Post (D.C.-area bookstores).

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