Earthquakes, Drugs, and Communism 

What you're buying this month.

East Bay Best-Sellers lists this month's top-selling books as reported by independent bookstores in the East Bay, including Black Oak Books, Cody's, Diesel, Pegasus, and Rakestraw Books.

Nonfiction

1. NEW A Crack in the Edge of the World, by Simon Winchester (HarperCollins, $27.95). The upcoming centennial of 1906's Great Quake invigorates this reexamination of its causes and consequences, from tectonics to demographics.

2. A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey (Anchor, $14.95). This 21st-century Man with the Golden Arm traces a privileged youth's desperate descent into and recovery from drug addiction.

3. The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion (Knopf, $23.95). Soon after ex-Daily Cal editor Didion finished writing this memoir about the death of her husband, her daughter died too.

4. Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown, $25.95). The Tipping Point cognition maven affirms what we already know: that snap judgments are often more accurate than careful decisions.

5. NEW All Alone in the World, by Nell Bernstein (New Press, $25.95). Children of criminals lead especially difficult lives, but the author blames the prison system and not the wayward parents themselves.

6. NEW The Truth (with Jokes), by Al Franken (Dutton, $25.95). Bush-bashing is America's leading growth industry; bad-boy Franken makes his bid to regain some market share.

7. Chronicles, Vol. 1, by Bob Dylan (Simon & Schuster, $14). The first installment of Dylan's lyrical autobiography starts in 1961 with his life-changing arrival in bohemian Manhattan.

8. NEW Mao: The Unknown Story, by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday (Knopf, $35). An utterly devastating exposé of the Chinese leader, from his brutal rise to power to his disastrous social programs.

9. The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell (Back Bay, $14.95). Gladwell's Blink has reawakened interest in this earlier rehashing of the trendology and social patterning first popularized in 1981's The Hundredth Monkey.

10. NEW In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote (Vintage $14). There's Oscar buzz for the new bio-flick Capote; the film has revived sales of the author's 1966 true-crime classic.

FICTION

1. On Beauty, by Zadie Smith (Penguin, $25.95) Smith's latest multiracial seriocomic melodrama transfers the plot of Howards End to contemporary Massachusetts amidst intellectuals and rappers.

2. Snow, by Orhan Pamuk (Vintage, $14.95). This kaleidoscopic novel follows a melancholy poet snowbound in a desolate mountain town with Islamic fundamentalists, Turkish communists, and Kurdish nationalists.

3. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead, $14). Afghanistan's political upheavals are a striking backdrop for this powerful examination of cultural and personal morality.

4. NEW Saving Fish from Drowning, by Amy Tan (Putnam, $26.95). A sarcastic ghost narrates this tale of an American tour group kidnapped by a messianic cult in the Burmese jungle.

5. NEW The Line of Beauty, by Alan Hollinghurst (Bloomsbury, $14.95). This satire of Thatcher-era British social mores, punctuated by graphic gay sex scenes, nabbed the latest Booker Prize.

6. NEW Black Hole, by Charles Burns (Pantheon, $24.95). The sexually surrealistic and grotesque visions of comic genius Burns' latest graphic novel will give you nightmares for weeks.

7. NEW How We Are Hungry, by Dave Eggers (Vintage, $13). McSweeney's top dog ventures into the short-story genre with this collection of piquant tales.

8. The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth (Vintage, $14.95). Roth applies his deft touch to a 1940s almost-America in which Charles Lindbergh wins the presidency, leading the nation into fascism.

9. NEW Scorpion's Gate, by Richard A. Clarke (Putnam, $24.95). The former national security adviser spins an international near-future political fantasy involving Islamic nukes, bumbling Americans, and scheming Chinese.

10. Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Penguin, $15). This convoluted literary thriller set in 1945 Barcelona aspires to be a Spanish Da Vinci Code with Satanic overtones.

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