1. FAST-FOOD NATION, by Eric Schlosser (Houghton Mifflin, $25). Scary revelations galore: Will you still buy Big Macs when you learn the secret of Secret Sauce?
2. 9-11, by Noam Chomsky (Seven Stories, $8.95). Chomsky's comments, assembled soon after last year's attacks, comprise a slim volume that calls America a terrorist nation.
3. 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.
4. A BEAUTIFUL MIND, by Sylvia Nasar (Touchstone, $16). Now an award-winning motion picture, this bio of schizophrenic genius and Nobel laureate John Nash tells the whole story.
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. BLACK, WHITE, AND JEWISH, by Rebecca Walker (Riverhead, $14). Sex, inside stories, and tales of privilege pepper this memoir about growing up biracial by the daughter of Alice Walker.
7. THE TIPPING POINT, by Malcolm Gladwell (Back Bay, $14.95). Social and cultural trends are like epidemics, the author explains in this book about how little things can make big differences.
8. UNDERSTANDING POWER, by Noam Chomsky, edited by Peter Mitchell and John Schoeffel (New Press, $19.95). Only intellectuals need assail this collection of talks with sociopolitical analyst Chomsky.
9. THE WRINKLE CURE, by Nicholas Perricone (Warner, $13.95). The doctor's antioxidant plan has already helped many Hollywood stars; maybe cosmeceuticals can fix your face, too.
10. WITTGENSTEINS POKER, by David Edmonds and John Eidinow (Ecco, $24). The authors revisit a 1946 debate between two great philosophers who may or may not have almost come to blows.
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). On the downward slide of Alzheimer's, a patriarch heads a modern American family whose misadventures in love and work are all too familiar.
3. LORD OF THE RINGS, by J.R.R. Tolkien (Houghton Mifflin, $20). Now a major motion picture, this classic tale of Hobbits, wizards, sorcery, camaraderie, and an epic quest has tempted generations of children to dream of dragons.
4. PRODIGAL SUMMER, by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper Perennial, $14). A summer in the Appalachians is by twists and turns fruitful and frustrating for men, women, and little crawly things.
5. WHEN WE WERE ORPHANS, by Kazuo Ishiguro (Vintage, $14). A noted British detective returns to Shanghai to search for his parents, who disappeared there long ago.
6. BALZAC AND THE LITTLE CHINESE SEAMSTRESS, by Dai Sijie (Knopf, $10). During China's Cultural Revolution, two boys whose lives have been turned upside down experience literature and love.
7. 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.
8. SHOPGIRL, by Steve Martin (Theia, $10.95). The comedian proves his versatility yet again with this brief debut novel about wistful Mirabelle, who sells gloves at an L.A. department store.
9. 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.
10. BOONVILLE, by Robert Mailer Anderson (Creative Arts, $21.95). Yes, that Boonville is the setting for this debut coming-of-age tale by a young Anderson Valley native.
Culture Spy - December 8, 6:10 PM
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