1. THE PLACES THAT SCARE YOU, By Pema Chodron (Shambhala, $21.95). We can let fear harden us, says the American Buddhist nun in this new manual, or we can learn to open up to those scary places and learn from them.
2. PARIS TO THE MOON, by Adam Gopnik (Random House, $14.95). This collection of dispatches from the New Yorker writer captures the essence of living in France, cafés and all.
3. ANGER, by Thich Nhat Hanh (Riverhead, $23.95). Anger is suffering, the noted Buddhist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee points out. It sure is. He offers advice on not lashing out.
4. TALIBAN, by Ahmed Rashid (Yale University, $14.95). A Pakistani journalist offers this close look, published last year, at militant Islam and how it relates to oil and other issues that are currently changing the world.
5. A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS, by David Eggers (Vintage, $14). Sad but true and oh so ambitious, this memoir of orphaned siblings spares not a single gory detail.
6. PERSONAL HISTORY, by Katherine Graham (Vintage, $15). In her memoir, the late Washington Post publisher recalls a rich youth, her husband's suicide, and lots of headline-making news.
7. ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY, by David Sedaris (Little, Brown & Co., $14.95). The NPR autobiographer's essays poke fun at family life down South as well as life as an expatriate in Paris.
8. GERMS, by Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg, and William Broad (Simon & Schuster, $27). This history of biological warfare, written by three New York Times reporters, contains some shocking bits that will keep you awake at night.
9. ISLAM: A SHORT HISTORY, by Karen Armstrong (Modern Library, $19.95). The former nun turned best-selling author encapsulates Islam, from Mohammed to the medieval Crusades to modern politics.
10. BLOWBACK, by Chalmers Johnson (Owl, $15). Whoops, America blew it by insisting on maintaining a kind of empire in the wake of the Cold War, the author explains in this analysis of why people all over the world hate the USA.
1. THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY, by Michael Chabon (Random House, $26.95). This tale of two cousins who create a comic-book hero netted its Berkeley author a Pulitzer.
2. THE CORRECTIONS, by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar Straus & Giroux, $26). A patriarch heads a modern American family whose misadventures in love and work are all too familiar. (See review in this issue.)
3. THE BLIND ASSASSIN, by Margaret Atwood (Anchor, $14). When the car containing one of two sisters sails off a cliff in broad daylight, her sibling enters a dark world of wondering.
4. WHITE TEETH, by Zadie Smith (Knopf, $14). Set mainly in London, this funny-sad story of love, friendship, memory, and race by a twentysomething newcomer drew critical raves.
5. BEE SEASON, by Myla Goldberg (Knopf, $13). After a nine-year-old wins an important spelling bee, her family's dynamic changes completely: She's the star now, and she watches her role unfold.
6. THE RED TENT, by Anita Diamant (Picador, $14). Briefly noted in the Book of Genesis, our narrator is Dinah, daughter of Jacob; she recalls the triumphs and tragedies of biblical-era women.
7. HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic, $7.99). The adolescent wizard faces magic's darker repercussions as an escaped convict runs wild.
8. HOW TO BE GOOD, by Nick Hornby (Riverhead, $24.95). Extramarital shenanigans and a terrifying surplus of good intentions threaten to drive a marriage onto the rocks.
9. HALF A LIFE, by V.S. Naipaul (Knopf, $24). The Nobel Prize winner uses Somerset Maugham's tale about meeting an Indian holy man as a springboard for this novel about that holy man's son, a restless expatriate writer.
10. THE NAUTICAL CHART, by Arturo Pérez-Riverte (Harcourt Brace, $26). In this latest mystery from the author of The Flanders Panel, an 18th-century atlas sets a diverse cast of characters in hot pursuit of a sunken Jesuit ship.
Culture Spy - December 8, 6:10 PM
What the Fork - December 6, 3:51 PM
What the Fork - December 1, 1:56 PM
What the Fork - November 28, 1:33 PM
What the Fork - November 15, 1:37 PM