East Bay Best-Sellers 

What we've been reading lately.

Nonfiction

1. NEW War Talk, by Arundhati Roy (South End Press, $12). Roy denounces India, the United States, and the very concept of capitalism in this heartfelt neo-Marxist polemic.

2. NEW Small Wonder, by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper, $12.95). Well-intentioned but sanctimonious essays from a beloved novelist exploring her feelings in a post-9/11 world.

3. The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, by Greg Palast (Plume, $14). An unapologetic, full-frontal assault on globalization and international capitalism.

4. NEW Reefer Madness, by Eric Schlosser (Houghton Mifflin, $23). Scattershot exposé of three disparate aspects of the underground economy -- marijuana, migrant labor, and pornography.

5. Dreaming War, by Gore Vidal (Thunder's Mouth, $11.95). Examining the last sixty years, Vidal concludes that America is to blame for just about everything.

6. NEW Salt: A World History, by Mark Kurlansky (Penguin, $15). Humble, undemanding, but essential for our survival, salt (yes, salt) has played a pivotal role in human affairs for millennia.

7. Stupid White Men, by Michael Moore (ReganBooks, $24.95). The Oscar-winning loudmouth skewers, barbecues, and gleefully humiliates the Washington power elite.

8. NEW Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, by Alexandra Fuller (Random House, $12.95). In this brutally honest memoir, the daughter of racist white African farmers recalls her childhood in 1970s Rhodesia.

9. Fast-Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser (Harper Collins, $13.95). This perennial best-seller -- already a classic of investigative muckraking -- exposes the horrifying underbelly of the fast-food industry.

10. NEW Running with Scissors, by Augusten Burroughs (Picador, $14). After his mom "gave" him to a crazy psychiatrist when he was a boy, Burroughs was raised in an environment that gives dysfunction a whole new meaning.

Fiction

1. NEW Three Junes, by Julia Glass (Anchor, $14). National Book Award-winning saga of a melancholy Scottish family, traced through three loosely connected novellas.

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. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (Harvest, $14). The author of this lively yarn about a boy and a beast surviving a shipwreck admits he "borrowed" the plot from a 1981 Brazilian novel.

4. Atonement, by Ian McEwan (Anchor, $14). Booker Prize-winner McEwan's latest epic examines the nature of perception.

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

6. Speed of Light, by Elizabeth Rosner (Ballantine, $12.95). An obsessive scientist, an opera singer, and a Latin-American refugee find redemption in a Berkeley home.

7. McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales, by various authors, (Vintage, $13.95). Michael Chabon guest-edits this collection of tongue-in-cheek stories by contemporary scribes.

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

9. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde (Penguin, $14). It's 1985 in an alternate universe ---- and a sinister villain is murdering Britain's best-loved literary characters.

10. NEW Red Ant House, By Ann Cummins (Mariner, $12). A compelling yet uneven short-story collection by a local McSweeney's protégé.

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