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Bestselling books

Notable Books | The five bestselling hardback nonfiction books as of April 4

Issue: "Who will be the next pope?," April 16, 2005

Bestselling books

The five bestselling hardback nonfiction books as measured by placement on four leading lists as of April 4

1. The Purpose Driven Life - Rick Warren

Content Mr. Warren takes his useful and well-known advice to churches and targets it to individuals.

Gist In 40 short chapters Mr. Warren guides readers to discover how God's five ordained purposes-worship, community, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism-apply to them. Readers may disagree with him on this or that, but he encourages all to ask the important question, "What on earth am I here for?"

2. Blink - Malcolm Gladwell

content Sub-rational, snap decisions are often as accurate as those made rationally and scientifically.

Gist Mr. Gladwell illustrates the ability of the human brain to make snap decisions, often based on information too subtle for the rational mind to grasp. With examples drawn from the military, emergency rooms, car sales, the art world, tennis, and psychology, the book demonstrates the power of the "adaptive unconscious" and the need to keep it from being hijacked by false presuppositions.

3. Conspiracy of Fools - Kurt Eichenwald

content The compelling story of the people behind Enron and the corporate and cultural climate that allowed the corporation to collapse.

Gist Mr. Eichenwald weaves together the story behind the Enron scandal and paints a picture of smart, occasionally foul-mouthed, and sometimes unprincipled people operating in a free-for-all environment, making poor decisions and then trying to dig themselves out of the consequences.

4. A Deadly Game - Catherine Crier

content Former judge and current TV personality Catherine Crier takes a behind-the-scenes look at the Scott Peterson case.

Gist Fans of true crime reporting or sensational cases will find Ms. Crier's well-written and information-laden account of the Peterson murder investigation and trial compelling. Ms. Crier doesn't hide her prejudice. From early days she thought Scott Peterson's story was fishy, and here she doggedly sorts through the data to make her case.

5. Blood Brother - Anne Bird

content Can't get enough Scott Peterson? Anne Bird relates the story of her adoption as an infant and her eventual introduction to her birth family, including half-brother Peterson and his wife Laci.

Gist An out-of-the-blue phone call interrupted Anne Bird's life and led to friendship with Laci and Scott. She insisted on his innocence throughout the long murder investigation but eventually concluded that he had murdered his wife and unborn son.

In the spotlight

Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life resumed its place at the top of the bestseller lists after a well-publicized role in last month's hostage crisis in Atlanta involving hostage Ashley Smith and accused murderer Brian Nichols. With 22 million copies sold, The Purpose Driven Life is the second-biggest hardcover nonfiction seller in history, after only the Bible. It was also the largest-selling book in both 2003 and 2004; the other publishing phenomenon, The Da Vinci Code, has sold fewer than half that number.

Overall, it's a profitable time for publishers of religious books, which now comprise nearly 14 percent of total trade sales, more than $1.9 billion of a $13.7 billion market. The broad category includes writers of all theological stripes, and more big-sellers are emerging this year: The Rising, the first prequel to the Left Behind series, had 1 million books in print before it went on sale March 1.

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