Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Monitor's Guide to Bestsellers: Hardcover Nonfiction

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Monitor's Guide to Bestsellers: Hardcover Nonfiction

Article excerpt

1. ANGELA'S ASHES: A MEMOIR, by Frank McCourt, Scribners, $23

"Angela's Ashes," Frank McCourt's brilliant and tender memoir of his miserable Irish Catholic childhood in Limerick, Ireland, is a deeply moving story and a very funny book. Angela was McCourt's mother. The story begins in Brooklyn during the Depression as she tries to hold the family together; later, because of his father's alcoholism the family is forced to return to Ireland, where McCourt discovers Shakespeare and language. It is a book of splendid humanity. By Devon McNamara

2. INTO THIN AIR, by Jon Krakauer, Villard, $24.95

Krakauer writes compellingly that he wanted his personal account of a guided tour up Mt. Everest to have a raw, ruthless sort of honesty, and it does. On May 10, 1996, nine of his fellow climbers, including three guides, were killed in a storm that swept the mountain. Krakauer hoped "... that writing the book might purge Everest from my life. It hasn't, of course." Readers of this book will never think of the world's highest peak in quite the same way again. By Suzanne MacLachlan

3. MIRACLE CURES, by Jean Carper, HarperCollins, $25

Jean Carper's guide to the alternative medicines of today describes the growing search for safer, less medically invasive forms of healing. Most of the book is a description of natural remedies (such as ginger, gingko, and bee pollen) and the ailments they are used for. While never including any form of spiritual healing, Carper's book also looks ahead at medical healing in the future

By Noel Christian Paul

4. SIMPLE ABUNDANCE, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, Warner, $17.95

A spiritual self-help book for the "modern woman," a how-to book that offers to overcome stress and assist in self-discovery with topical readings on gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty, and joy. There is a reading for each day of the calendar year. Like modern gold-mining - 30 tons of shoveled dirt to find one ounce of gold - there are pages of platitudes before one hits an original insight. "The Oprah Winfrey Show" spotlighted this book. By Jim Bencivenga

5. THE BIBLE CODE, by Michael Drosnin, Simon & Schuster, $25

"The Bible Code" has international intrigue, quasi-supernatural mystery, even a touch of celebrity name-dropping. But none of this eases the strain on the reader's credulity. Michael Drosnin's premise, that scores of prophetic messages are encoded in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, is supported by flawed assumptions and unexplained methodologies. "The Bible Code" sadly ignores the inspiration of the Scriptures in favor of millennarian gobbledygook. By Judy Huenneke

6. THE PERFECT STORM, by Sebastian Junger, W.W. Norton, $22.95

"The Perfect Storm" serves as both title and metaphor recounting the once-in-a-century phenomenon in which major weather systems converge into one awesome storm. A meditation on and an adrenaline-pumping account of weather gone awry, the book integrates meteorological observations into accounts of the lives and deaths of the six-man crew of the Andrea Gail. What ultimately makes this unique and admirable is its overriding humanity. By Judith Bolton-Fasman

7. THE GIFT OF FEAR, by Gavin de Becker, Little, Brown & Co., $22.95

De Becker sends a powerful message: Violence is usually not unpredictable and people should be better informed about how to keep from becoming its victims. He backs it up by his own expertise in analyzing violence and evaluating threats to both the famous and the ordinary. Detailed anecdotes inform his hearty defense of intuition as an essential tool. The book places value on "real fear" as a survival instinct. It emphasizes freedom from unnecessary anxiety. By Stacy Teicher

8. BRAIN DROPPINGS, by George Carlin, Hyperion, $19.95

George Carlin may be Howard Stern's brother, at least for the glee they share over insufferably puerile humor. …

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