Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers For Dec. 31, 2009 Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers: The Story Of Success has been a bestseller for 56 weeks. Gladwell, a New Yorker staff writer, profiles people who have "been given opportunities, and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them."
NPR logo Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers For Dec. 31, 2009

Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers For Dec. 31, 2009

Compiled from weekly surveys of close to 500 independent bookstores nationwide in collaboration with the American Booksellers Association. This list reflects sales ending Dec. 27, 2009. Book descriptions are based on publishers' information.


1. Stones into Schools

By Greg Mortenson

Weeks on list: 4  •  In his last book, Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson recounted his unsuccessful attempt to climb K2, the world's second-tallest mountain, because of illness, and his recovery in a small Pakistani village. In return for the kindness of his hosts, he promised to build the impoverished town's first school. Stones into Schools picks up where that story left off. In this latest book, Mortenson details more about his vision of promoting peace through education and literacy.

Hardcover, 448pp, $26.95, Viking Adult, Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2009


2. Going Rogue

An American Life

By Sarah Palin

Weeks on list: 6  •  Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin tells the story of her Alaskan upbringing, her marriage and family life, her political career, her religious beliefs and her meteoric rise to national prominence. She also gives her take on the 2008 presidential race and the mechanics of the McCain campaign.

Hardcover, 432pp, $28.99, Harper, Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2009


3. What the Dog Saw

And Other Adventures

By Malcolm Gladwell

Weeks on list: 10  •  What the Dog Saw is a compilation of the best of Malcolm Gladwell's writings from The New Yorker. His stories often look at the everyday and mundane from a fresh and thought-provoking perspective. "Good writing," he says in his preface, "does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else's head."

Hardcover, 432pp, $27.99, Little, Brown and Company, Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2009


4. True Compass

A Memoir

By Edward M. Kennedy

Weeks on list: 15  •  Sen. Edward M. Kennedy tells his own story -- of his legendary family, politics, controversy and 50 years at the center of national events. He describes his work in the Senate on civil rights, Vietnam, Watergate and the quest for peace in Northern Ireland. He also writes about the cause of his life: improved health care for all Americans.

Hardcover, 532pp, $35.00, Twelve, Pub Date: Sep. 14, 2009


5. Open

An Autobiography

By Andre Agassi

Weeks on list: 7  •  Those who recall Andre Agassi's teen years as the iconic bad boy of tennis, now get to experience that era from his perspective. He details the highs of winning eight Grand Slam titles and earning tens of millions of dollars, while simultaneously falling deeper into drug use and failed relationships. But he also pays homage to those who helped him comeback personally and professionally -- namely his wife and fellow tennis icon Steffi Graf.

Hardcover, 400pp, $28.95, Knopf, Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2009


6. Have a Little Faith

A True Story

By Mitch Albom

Weeks on list: 13  •  Mitch Albom spent eight years with two religious men -- a suburban rabbi and an inner-city pastor -- and explored with them the allure of faith. Like in his last nonfiction book, Tuesdays with Morrie, Albom delves into what it means to live with purpose.

Hardcover, 272pp, $23.99, Hyperion, Pub Date: Sep. 29, 2009


7. SuperFreakonomics

Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

By Steven D. Levitt; Stephen J. Dubner

Weeks on list: 10  •   In the follow-up to the bestselling book Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have fired another provocative salvo at conventional wisdom. In their crusade to make economics ("the dismal science") less, well, dismal, Levitt and Dubner now venture into a range of colorful topics, in each instance using science and statistics to explain the unseen causes of human behavior.

Hardcover, 288pp, $29.99, William Morrow, Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2009


8. Where Men Win Glory

The Odyssey of Pat Tillman

By Jon Krakauer

Weeks on list: 15  •  The latest book from Jon Krakauer, author of Into Thin Air and Into The Wild, focuses on the life and tragic death of former NFL player Pat Tillman, who left a lucrative contract with the Arizona Cardinals to join the U.S. Army Rangers. The book details the findings of Krakauer's own investigation into Tillman's death by friendly fire -- and the Army's subsequent effort to cover up the circumstances of that death.

Hardcover, 416pp, $27.95, Doubleday, Pub Date: Sep. 15, 2009


9. The Book of Genesis

By R. Crumb

Weeks on list: 6  •  Underground comic legend R. Crumb has put the entire text of the best known book of the Bible into a graphic work. In The Book of Genesis Illustrated, he depicts all 50 chapters, from the creation of the world to the death of Joseph. Crumb's French publisher Jean-Luc Fromental calls the work an interpretation of Biblical tales from a "humanistic point of view."

Hardcover, $24.95, W. W. Norton & Company, Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2009


10. Born to Run

A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

By Christopher Mcdougall

Weeks on list: 30  •  Christopher McDougall travels to the unforgiving terrain of Mexico's Copper Canyons, in a quest to understand the area's indigenous population of ultra-runners, the Tarahumara Indians. Surviving on a diet of ground corn, mouse meat and homemade alcohol, are men and woman who nevertheless have the endurance to run cliff-side races topping 100 miles and sometimes lasting two days.

Hardcover, 304pp, $24.95, Knopf, Pub Date: May. 5, 2009


11. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I

By Julia Child; Louisette Bertholle; Simone Beck

Weeks on list: 13  •  There has been a resurgence of interest in American chef Julia Child in recent years, with the release of her memoir My Life In France and the hit book and movie Julie & Julia, which chronicles a young woman's quest to follow Child's recipes. But no book gets to the heart of what made Julia Child the star that she was like Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I. The legendary cookbook, published for the first time in 1961 with two French co-authors, details 524 recipes for the "servantless American cook."

Hardcover, 752pp, $40.00, Knopf, Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2001


12. Outliers

The Story of Success

By Malcolm Gladwell

Weeks on list: 13  •  Why do Asian kids outperform American kids in math? How did Bill Gates become a billionaire computer entrepreneur? Was there something simply different about Mozart? New Yorker staff writer Malcolm Gladwell looks at "outliers" -- those who have "been given opportunities, and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them."

Hardcover, 320pp, $27.99, Little, Brown and Company, Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2008


13. The Imperial Cruise

A Secret History of Empire and War

By James Bradley

Weeks on list: 5  •  In 1905, President Teddy Roosevelt dispatched Secretary of War William Howard Taft on the largest U.S. diplomatic mission in history to Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, China and Korea. A century later, James Bradley traveled in the wake of Roosevelt's mission and discovered what had transpired in Honolulu, Tokyo, Manila, Beijing and Seoul.

Hardcover, 400pp, $29.99, Little, Brown and Company, Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2009


14. Half the Sky

Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

By Sheryl Wudunn; Nicholas D. Kristof

Weeks on list: 9  •  Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the first married couple to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism, team up again, this time to look at instances of oppression of women and girls in the developing world. The empowerment of women, they conclude, is not only just, but also essential for increasing productivity and fighting poverty.

Hardcover, 320pp, $27.95, Knopf, Pub Date: Sep. 8, 2009


15. Guinness World Records 2010

By Guinness World Records

Weeks on list: 9  •  The 2010 edition of Guinness World Records includes new sections celebrating the first decade of the 21st century: the Top 50 Records of the Decade, Record of the Day (one for every day of the year), Unbreakable Records (those that will seemingly never be broken), and special sections on James Bond, culture shock and more.

Hardcover, 288pp, $28.95, Guinness World Records, Pub Date: Sep. 15, 2009