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).
Leap of Faith Queen Noor 35 Points
CONTENT Memoir of a Princeton-educated American woman who becomes the Queen of Jordan.
GIST Part jet-set love story and part Arab apologetic, Queen Noor's tale of her unlikely romance with Jordan's King Hussein is more political than personal. Defending her late husband's reputation, she explains his positions on Iraq and the Arab-Israeli crisis. Although the book was finished at the end of 2002, she writes nothing about extremist Islam or al-Qaeda.
What Should I Do With My Life? Po Bronson 28 Points
CONTENT Profiles of young professionals who have had interesting career paths. Examples: the college dropout in her 30s trying to balance her passion for shot-putting and the time demands of her daughter; the Pittsburgh lawyer who quit his job to become a trucker.
GIST Without simple answers, Bronson gently shows that people should follow their passions in choosing jobs and careers.
CAUTION Some profanity.
Stupid White Men Michael Moore 27 Points
CONTENT A screed against the evil powers that supposedly run the United States.
GIST America has won two wars but this book continues to sell. Its stale jokes about President Bush's intellect and the Florida elections made this book seem dated when it first was published after 9/11. But the loony left is out in force again and Moore's Oscar rant gave him new publicity.
CAUTION Crudities and a blasphemy.
Crisis of Islam Bernard Lewis 21 Points
CONTENT A slender volume that examines the Islamic world's interactions with Christendom so as to explain Muslim discontent with the West and America in particular.
GIST Lewis surveys the sweep of Islamic history and explains political and emotional currents that underlie the rise in Islamic fundamentalism, the popularity of Osama bin Laden, and the appeal of suicide bombing.
Dereliction of Duty Robert Patterson 17 Points
CONTENT A thin, anecdotal volume by the guy who carried the nuclear football for President Clinton for two years.
GIST Lt. Col. Patterson witnessed the president's contempt for the military, cheating at golf, and fondling of a military stewardess on Air Force One. Clinton also failed to act decisively against terrorism, on at least one occasion reportedly paying more attention to one of his pastimes than to urgent national security needs.