East Bay Best-Sellers 

What we've been reading lately.

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

NONFICTION

1. What Should I Do with My Life?, by Po Bronson (Random House, $24.95). Regular folks try to escape soul-draining drudgery by finding careers that inspire.

2. Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand (Ballantine, $15). A horse is a horse, of course -- but no horse could ever run like this champion.

3. Stupid White Men, by Michael Moore (ReganBooks, $24.95). Moore skewers, barbecues, and gleefully humiliates the Washington power elite.

4. Fast-Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser (Harper Collins, $13.95). Feces in the meat and the unsavory secret of Secret Sauce are but two of the revelations sizzling herein.

5. Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich (Owl, $13). A middle-class author pretended to be poor so as to describe the struggles of the underprivileged to mainly middle-class readers.

NEW 6. The Metaphysical Club, by Louis Menand (Farrar Straus & Giroux, $15). Shattered by the Civil War's carnage and inspired by Darwinian evolution, four 19th-century philosophers reinvented the American intellectual landscape.

NEW 7. Songbook, by Nick Hornby (McSweeney's, $26). Hornby's musical compulsiveness reaches new depths as he analyzes, swoons, and obsesses over 31 of his favorite songs.

NEW 8. Fat Land, by Greg Critser (Houghton Mifflin, $24). An unflinching examination of the obesity epidemic, written by a formerly fat man.

NEW 9. Faster than the Speed of Light, by João Magueijo (Perseus, $26). An iconoclastic, witty Portuguese physicist dares to challenge Einstein's most sacred cow: that the speed of light remains forever constant.

NEW 10. Ambushed, by Ian Stewart (Algonquin, $24.95). Now a Berkeley resident, the author of this memoir was a war reporter in Sierra Leone when rebel gunmen attacked his car and left him for dead.

FICTION

1. Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett (Harper, $13.95). This offbeat adventure follows a Japanese industrialist, an opera singer, and a band of South American terrorists who seize an embassy.

NEW 2. The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd (Penguin, $14). Childhood traumas, the civil rights movement, mysterious black Madonnas, and a trio of beekeepers populate this overambitious Deep South melodrama.

3. The Hours, by Michael Cunningham (Picador, $13). The blockbuster film adaptation of this Virginia Woolf-themed trilogy is sure to dominate the competition on Oscar night.

NEW 4. Mrs. Dalloway (Harvest, $12). Woolf's dense, experimental, and overwhelming 1925 vignette of one woman's inner life was the partial inspiration for The Hours.

5. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, by Dai Sijie (Anchor, $10). During China's Cultural Revolution, two boys discover literature and love.

6. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith (Anchor, $11.95). This first mystery in a series, set in Botswana, stars an irresistibly warm, wry, and well-written female sleuth.

NEW 7. Boonville, by Robert Mailer Anderson (Harper, $12.95). A scathing satire of Northern California's famously eccentric hippie/redneck melting pot doesn't name names ... at least, not quite.

NEW 8. Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson (Putnam, $25.95). Cyberpunk Gibson's first novel set in the ultra-hip present sends its ultra-hip heroine on an ultra-cool international cyberquest.

9. You Shall Know Our Velocity, by Dave Eggers (McSweeney's, $22). A self-published epic that follows two globetrotters who dole out piles of unwanted cash.

10. Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger (Grove, $13). Breakthrough debut novel of a family on the lam in Kennedy-era Minnesota serves as a paean to Midwestern values.

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