1. Food Rules
By Michael Pollan
Weeks on list: 17 Food Rules is a practical eating guide from the author of In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma. Michael Pollan's rules are drawn from various ethnic and cultural traditions, and are intended for everyday supermarket shoppers looking to be more mindful about the foods they consume.
Paperback, 112pp, $11.00, Penguin (Non-Classics), Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2009
2. Three Cups of Tea
By Greg Mortenson; David Oliver Relin
Weeks on list: 169 In Three Cups of Tea, American Greg Mortenson recounts his first encounter with rural Pakistan and the events that inspired him to found more than 50 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He chronicles his work educating girls in the Taliban's backyard.
Paperback, 368pp, $16.00, Penguin (Non-Classics), Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2007
3. The Lost City of Z
A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
By David Grann
Weeks on list: 13 The Lost City of Z is David Grann's vivid retelling of the remarkable life of Amazon explorer Percy Fawcett. A tall, handsome Brit possessing nearly superhuman stamina, Fawcett embodied all the manly traits admired by his era. In the early 20th century, he had successfully, if harrowingly, explored regions of the Amazon on behalf of the Royal Geographical Society. In his final expedition, he set out to prove definitively that the "green hell" of the Amazon basin could nurture a large-scale civilization. Embarking with only his 21-year-old son and his son's best friend, Fawcett hiked into the jungle. They were never heard from again.
Paperback, 448pp, $15.95, Vintage, Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2010
4. The Omnivore's Dilemma
By Michael Pollan
Weeks on list: 139 In The Omnivore's Dilemma, journalist Michael Pollan argues that many Americans suffer from a national eating disorder based on supersized, corn-fed diets. He traces four meals from their origins in the earth through their journey to the plate. After following industrial, organic and local food supply chains he documents the process of hunting and gathering a meal for himself.
Paperback, 464pp, $16.00, Penguin (Non-Classics), Pub Date: Sep. 1, 2007
5. The Girls from Ames
By Jeffrey Zaslow
Weeks on list: 3 As children, 11 girls formed a special bond while growing up in the small town of Ames, Iowa. As young women, they moved to eight different states, yet they managed to maintain a friendship that would carry them through college and careers, marriage and motherhood, dating and divorce, the death of a child, and the mysterious passing of the 11th member of their group. Jeffrey Zaslow follows these women into their 40s, examining their enduring bonds as they experience life's challenges.
Paperback, 352pp, $16.00, Gotham, Pub Date: Apr. 6, 2010
6. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress
A Memoir of Going Home
By Rhoda Janzen
Weeks on list: 2 Not long after Rhoda Janzen turns 40, her world is turned upside down. Her husband of 15 years leaves her for a man he met on Gay.com. Needing a place to rest and pick up the pieces of her life, she packs her bags, crosses the country and returns to her quirky Mennonite family's home, where she is welcomed back with open arms -- and some offbeat advice. Her mother suggests she mend her broken heart by dating her first cousin. A good catch, she says, because he owns a tractor.
Paperback, 272pp, $14.00, Holt Paperbacks, Pub Date: Apr. 13, 2010
7. Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea
By Chelsea Handler
Weeks on list: 16 Comedian and late-night talk show host Chelsea Handler takes a cringe-worthy walk down memory lane, mining her past for the most outrageous and humiliating stories. Fellow author Jennifer Weiner sums up the work this way: "Chelsea Handler writes like Judy Blume, if Judy Blume were into vodka, Ecstasy, and sleeping with midgets and 19-year-olds."
Paperback, 272pp, $16.00, Gallery, Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010
8. Eat, Pray, Love
By Elizabeth Gilbert
Weeks on list: 154 Eat, Pray, Love is a memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, a writer who drags herself out of the depths of depression following a bitter divorce. She rejuvenates her spirit by escaping from the routines of her life, traveling for four months in Italy, India and Indonesia, and surrendering to food, God and romance.
Paperback, 352pp, $15.00, Penguin (Non-Classics), Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2007
9. For You Mom, Finally
By Ruth Reichl
Weeks on list: 2 Daughters often look at their parents as guardians and protectors, but Ruth Reichl, the bestselling author of Comfort Me With Apples and former editor in cheif of Gourmet, takes a look at her own mother from a different perspective. Through letters and diary entries, she pieces together a portrait of her mother as a person -- who transitions from a hopeful young person to an increasingly unhappy older one. She pays tribute to the sacrifices this woman made along the way on her behalf.
Paperback, 144pp, $13.00, Penguin (Non-Classics), Pub Date: Apr. 6, 2010
10. I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced
By Nujood Ali; Delphine Minoui
Weeks on list: 4 At 10 years old, Nujood Ali was forced by her father to marry a man three times her age and join her new husband in an isolated village in rural Yemen. She reports suffering there daily from physical and emotional abuse by her mother-in-law and nightly at the rough hands of her spouse, who took her virginity on their wedding night. Unable to endure the treatment, she fled. A renowned Yemeni lawyer took up her case and fought the archaic system in a country where nearly half the girls are married while still under the legal age. I Am Nujood recounts this story and Ali's unprecedented legal victory in April 2008.
Paperback, 192pp, $12.00, Three Rivers Press, Pub Date: Mar. 2, 2010
11. Animals Make Us Human
Creating the Best Life for Animals
By Temple Grandin; Catherine Johnson
Weeks on list: 15 In Animals Make Us Human, author Temple Grandin examines common notions of animal happiness and concludes that dogs, cats, horses, cows and zoo animals -- among other creatures -- possess an emotional system akin to that of humans.
Paperback, 360pp, $15.95, Mariner Books, Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2010
12. In Defense of Food
By Michael Pollan
Weeks on list: 51 Michael Pollan asks the seemingly simple question: What should we have for dinner? Tracing from source to table each of the food chains that sustain us -- whether industrial or organic, alternative or processed -- he develops a portrait of the American way of eating. The result is a sweeping, surprising exploration of the hungers that have shaped our evolution, and of the profound implications our food choices have for the health of our species and the future of our planet.
Paperback, 256pp, $15.00, Penguin (Non-Classics), Pub Date: Apr. 1, 2009
13. The Blind Side
Evolution of a Game
By Michael Lewis
Weeks on list: 23 The Blind Side is the true story of Michael Oher, a homeless, African-American teenager in Memphis who was taken in by a wealthy white family and a Christian high school. The book documents how his size and agility, paired with training and opportunity, propelled him onto the radar of college football coaches across the country.
Paperback, 339pp, $13.95, W. W. Norton & Company, Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2009
14. The Age of Wonder
The Romantic Generation and the Discovery of the Beauty and Terror of Science
By Richard Holmes
Weeks on list: 7 The Age of Wonder is a look at the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when European scientists and artists greatly influenced each other. The book is constructed as a "relay race" of scientific stories that span the years between botanist Joseph Banks' voyage to Tahiti in 1769 and Charles Darwin's journey to the Galapagos in 1831. Author Richard Holmes tells NPR's Guy Raz, "The scientific breakthroughs in this period had a major effect on how people saw the world and the universe and also how people wrote about it." possibilities of science—an era whose consequences are with us still.
Paperback, 576pp, $17.95, Vintage, Pub Date: Mar. 2, 2010
15. Lords of Finance
By Liaquat Ahamed
Weeks on list: 1 Liaquat Ahamed's history of the Great Depression centers on the era's four most important central bankers -- those in Britain, France, Germany and the United States. He writes that these men contributed to economic disaster -- or, as he proclaims in the book's subtitle, "broke the world" -- because they just didn't understand how economics work.
Paperback, 576pp, $18.00, Penguin (Non-Classics), Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2009