What's Flying Off the Shelves This Month 

Springtime is the right time for courtesans, confessions, and In Cold Blood.

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

Nonfiction

1. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins (Plume, $15). A former high-powered corporate consultant alleges international finance skulduggery.

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

3 In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote (Vintage $14). Philip Seymour Hoffman's Oscar for the new bio-flick Capote has revived sales of the author's 1966 true-crime classic.

4. Collapse, by Jared Diamond (Penguin, $17). The Guns, Germs, and Steel author uses historical case studies to illuminate why societies collapse.

5. Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (William Morrow, $25.95). Dubner's praiseful profile of trendy economist Levitt highlights several of Levitt's "counter-intuitive" economic hypotheses.

6. NEW Break, Blow, Burn, by Camille Paglia (Pantheon, $20). The controversial social critic offers concise deconstructionist critiques of 43 classic poems.

7. NEW At Canaan's Edge, by Taylor Branch (Simon & Schuster, $35). Part three of Branch's comprehensive reexamination of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and times, culminating with his 1968 assassination.

8. Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond (Norton, $16.95). The circular reasoning of this attempt to explain away the civilizational achievements of different continents has become the premier palliative for Euro-guilt.

9. NEW You're Wearing That?, by Deborah Tannen (Random House, $24.95). Linguistics expert Tannen continues to successfully peer underneath the meaning of language, this time examining mother-daughter talk.

10. NEW The End of Faith, by Sam Harris (Norton, $13.95). A forceful and unapologetic argument for the elimination of humanity's reliance on organized religion.

FICTION

1. Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson (Picador, $14). In a letter to his young son, an Iowa preacher traces his family's remarkable spiritual maturation and the Midwest's turbulent history.

2. NEW In the Company of the Courtesan, by Sarah Dunant (Random House, $23.95). A green-eyed courtesan and a crippled dwarf flee disaster in Rome for the intrigue and voluptuousness of Renaissance Venice.

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

4. NEW Arthur and George, by Julian Barnes (Knopf, $24.95). Novelization of Arthur Conan Doyle's life predictably spiced up with a fictional Holmesian attempt to exonerate a victim of racism.

5. Brokeback Mountain, by Annie Proulx (Scribner, $9.95). Proulx's wistfully homoerotic short story of two frustrated Wyoming sheepherders has been repackaged as a slender book.

6. 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.

7. NEW Before the Frost, by Henning Mankell (Vintage, $13). If you like Mankell's grim Swedish detective Kurt Wallander, you'll love Wallander's daughter Linda, working her first case.

8. 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.

9. Close Range, by Annie Proulx (Scribner, $14). Proulx' collection of Wyoming stories originally drew little notice when published in 2000, but it's Mountain the bestseller lists now.

10. Runaway, by Alice Munro (Vintage, $14.95). A collection of heart-wrenching and piquant emotional vignettes from the modern master of the short story genre.

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