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Bestselling books

Notable Books | Four bestselling nonfiction hardbacks reviewed by Susan Olasky

The Long Tail

Content: The Internet Age is making possible a sales revolution: books, movies, CDs, and merchandise that potential buyers once could not have accessed-there's only so much shelf space-can now be available for years and years.

Gist: Concepts (including Christian ones) that formerly could not get traction now have a fighting chance. "The future of business is selling less of more . . . the combined value of all the millions of items that may sell only a few copies equals or exceeds the value of the few items that sell millions each."

Eat, Pray, Love

Content: After a bitter divorce (she left her husband after deciding she didn't want children or marriage), Gilbert embarks on a year of self-discovery in Italy, India, and Bali.

Gist: Gilbert's joyful use of language is contagious (caution: she delights in Italian profanity and obscenity). In the first third of the book she also finds pleasure in Italian food, describing passionately the delights of fresh tomatoes, homemade cheeses, wines, and the best pizza in the world. But the rest of the book is a tedious account of her experiences with meditation, medicine men, etc.

Grayson

Content: As a 17-year-old, competitive long-distance swimmer, Cox was swimming off the coast of Seal Beach, Calif., when the ocean began to churn. It turns out she was swimming with whales, a mother and young one.

Gist: Thirty years ago a girl saw some wondrous sea creatures and touched a whale. She believed she kept a lost baby whale from beaching himself. She thinks they talked to each other. Why is this worth writing about? It makes for a skimpy tale with a Jonathan Livingston Seagull gloss.

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman

Content: A collection of short, sometimes-humorous essays about aging from someone who thinks Manhattan is the center of the universe.

Gist: The title essay refers to Nora Ephron's friends, reduced to wearing turtlenecks and scarves to hide their necks, the part of the body most resistant to a quick nip and tuck. If riffs on waxing, dying, and women's purses amuse you, you'll be amused. Otherwise it might strike you as self-absorption, which isn't pretty at any age.

Spotlight

In the 19th century, newspapers often carried missives from missionaries serving in far-off places. But no more. More recently, as even Christian publishers have banked their fortunes on big-name authors, missionary tales are rare. Now new technology and an understanding of "the long tail" make it possible for missionaries to be heard. Marc Mailloux (brother of Andrée Seu) studied and served in France for more than 20 years. In God Still Loves the French (Xulon, 2006), Mailloux paints an affectionate and often funny portrait of a proud people whose hearts have been hardened to the gospel. As a campus minister and then a pastor, Mailloux found the gospel gaining converts among those from former French colonies-but not among the native French.

Suzanne Crocker's Pig in a Taxi (Baker, 2006) is a delightful collection of short anecdotes based on her career as a missionary nurse in West Africa. She includes a question and prayer point at the end of each story. Jeneil Palmer Russell's Sunburned Faces (Xlibris, 2001) engagingly tells of her travels and travails in an Ethiopian orphanage.

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