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Bestselling books

Notable Books | Four hardback bestsellers reviewed by Susan Olasky

The Post-Birthday World

Plot: Faced with temptation, Irina must choose between her boring live-in boyfriend of 10 years or the fiery snooker player, Ramsey. In alternating chapters Shiver traces the consequences of the two choices.

Gist: Irina is confused about her own identity and thus unable to choose between two radically different men. With no vantage point beyond her own desires, she and her readers are left to assume that one choice is much like another with both good and bad consequences. Brutally raw language and vivid sexual imagery fill this book.

The Road

Plot: Years after a vast disaster, when few still live in America and many who remain have turned to cannibalism, a father and son for months journey by foot to the Gulf Coast, trying to stay alive.

Gist: If Dante had written the screenplay for the horror film Night of the Living Dead, something like The Road could have resulted. Bleak doesn't even begin to describe it, but brilliant describes McCarthy's writing, so those with strong constitutions might read it for style and risk the nightmares.

Grace (Eventually)

Content: A series of essays on politics, life, and faith, sadly devoid of evidence that her Christian profession has pushed her to deviate from conventional San Francisco views on abortion, assisted suicide, and other subjects.

Gist: Lamott's spiritual memoir, Traveling Mercies, is richly detailed, honest although theologically illiterate, and memorable in a way this new book is not. Not only have political subjects overtaken spiritual ones, but her formerly elegant writing has become mushy. These essays, sadly, are either colorless or ugly: Should Christians divide women into "breeders" and "nonbreeders"?

About Alice

Content: New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin's valentine to his late wife Alice, who died in September 2001.

Gist: Trillin in his writing turned his wife into the sit-com mom who keeps her family on an even keel. Here he describes the real Alice-smart, compassionate, and pretty-and writes that after 35 years of marriage he still "wanted to impress her." Some readers will enjoy Trillin's expressions of love; their own less articulate mates may feel the same way about them.


USA Today recently ran a list of "25 titles that made an impact on readers and the publishing industry over the past quarter-century." The list includes both fiction and nonfiction titles and is available online at life/top25-books.htm.

The top three books are novels: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Deep End of the Ocean (the first Oprah selection), and The Da Vinci Code. The next three are nonfiction: The 9/11 Commission Report, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. Rounding out the top 10: The Atkins New Diet Revolution, And the Band Played On (the story of how AIDS spread), Beloved, and The Greatest Generation.

The only two Christian books on the list are Left Behind and The Purpose Driven Life. Since we at WORLD also like lists, we encourage you to look at the USA Today list and then visit on April 24 or thereafter to suggest your list of the most influential books since 1982, or at least the one that most influenced you.


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