1. Three Cups of Tea
By Greg Mortenson; David Oliver Relin
Weeks on list: 152 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
2. The Blind Side
Evolution of a Game
By Michael Lewis
Weeks on list: 6 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
3. My Life in France
By Julia Child; Alex Prud'Homme
Weeks on list: 33 Julia Child wasn't always an iconic television cook. She led a colorful life, including a stint working for an American intelligence agency in South Asia during World War II. It was there that she met Paul Child. After the two married, his work took them to Paris, where she fell in love with French cuisine and trained to become "The French Chef" America came to love.
Paperback, 368pp, $15.00, Anchor, Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2007
4. The Old Farmer's Almanac
By Old Farmer's Almanac
Weeks on list: 17 "Useful, with a pleasant degree of humor" is the motto of the Old Farmer's Almanac, a guide to the predicted weather for the year. The almanac is peppered with gardening advice, recipes and articles.
Paperback, 288pp, $6.95, OFA, Pub Date: Sep. 1, 2009
A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
By Steven D. Levitt; Stephen J. Dubner
Weeks on list: 16 Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner set out to challenge any assumption that economics is a dull subject, removed from day-to-day life. In Freakonomics the co-authors apply economic principles of analysis to investigate human behavior. Their core message: Be leery of conventional wisdom; there is often far more to the story.
Paperback, 352pp, $15.99, Harper Perennial, Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2009
6. The Omnivore's Dilemma
By Michael Pollan
Weeks on list: 16 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
7. The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2010
By Alan C. Joyce
Weeks on list: 4 The annual guide to facts, both wacky and useful, this year includes a full-color photo spread of the top stories of 2009, in addition to 16 pages of world maps and flags. It is the book that The New York Times Crossword Editor Will Shortz calls his "No. 1 reference work for facts."
Paperback, 1008pp, $12.99, World Almanac, Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2009
8. When You Are Engulfed in Flames
By David Sedaris
Weeks on list: 28 David Sedaris has made a career out of humiliation. Thanks to his ability to blush and take it, his readers know what it's like to be an elf in Macy's Santaland, carry a lisp through childhood and grow up gay in Raleigh, N.C. Fans of his earlier work will revel in yet another series of short stories filled with his bizarre encounters and acerbic internal monologues.
Paperback, 336pp, $15.99, Back Bay Books, Pub Date: Jun. 2, 2009
9. In Defense of Food
By Michael Pollan
Weeks on list: 35 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
10. I Am America (And So Can You!)
By Stephen Colbert
Weeks on list: 3 The host of Comedy Central's satirical evening news program The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert, finds yet another opportunity to bestow his pearls of wisdom on the nation. In I Am America (and So Can You!) he offers up his "knee-jerk beliefs" and humorous rants on what is wrong with America today.
Paperback, 240pp, $15.99, Grand Central Publishing, Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2009
11. Hot, Flat, and Crowded 2.0
Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America
By Thomas L. Friedman
Weeks on list: 5 With global warming and rapidly growing populations, the planet is increasingly becoming hot, flat and crowded. Friedman writes that this is a dangerously unstable path and advocates for wasteful, inefficient energy practices to be replaced with a strategy for clean energy and energy efficiency.
Paperback, 528pp, $16.00, Picador, Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2009
12. Going Rouge
Sarah Palin - An American Nightmare
By Richard Kim; Betsy Reed
Weeks on list: 3 A spoof on Sarah Palin's new memoir Going Rogue, the book lampoons the politician, hockey mom, fundamentalist Christian, sex symbol, Republican ideologue and fashion icon. The series of short essays were compiled by two senior editors at The Nation magazine, and book scrutinizes Palin's origins in Wasilla, Alaska, her spectacular rise up the ranks of the Republican Party and what they call "the nightmarish prospect" of her continued participation in the nation's political scene.
Paperback, 320pp, $15.95, Health Communications, Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2009
13. The Glass Castle
By Jeannette Walls
Weeks on list: 3 The Glass Castle is a memoir recalling Jeannette Walls' transient youth and her bohemian parents. Together her family traipsed across the Southwest, settling temporarily in desert towns and mountain campsites. But when the money ran out and the romance of the wandering life faded, the family settled into a sedentary life in West Virginia, which was soon darkened by alcoholism and dysfunction. Walls eventually left this life, but she looks back on it with honesty and compassion.
Paperback, 304pp, $15.00, Scribner, Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2006
By The Harvard Lampoon
Weeks on list: 5 Complete with romance, danger, insufficient parental guardianship, creepy stalker-like behavior and a vampire prom, The Harvard Lampoon's parody of the hit novel and movie Twilight is the tale of a vampire-obsessed girl looking for love in all the wrong places.
Paperback, 160pp, $13.95, Vintage, Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2009
15. Julie and Julia
My Year of Cooking Dangerously
By Julie Powell
Weeks on list: 18 In the shadow of the Sept. 11 attacks, Julie Powell was working at a demoralizing job at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, and living in an uninspiring apartment in Queens. To revive her creativity and maintain her sanity, she embarked on a side project -- cooking all 524 of the recipes in Julia Child's famous tome, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in 365 days. She documented the experience in a blog as she went, and after she cooked the last recipe, she told the story of the entire experiment in this memoir.
Paperback, 352pp, $14.99, Back Bay Books, Pub Date: Jul. 1, 2009