Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers For Feb. 25 In Born To Run, No. 7 this week, 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.
NPR logo Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers For Feb. 25

Hardcover Nonfiction Bestsellers For Feb. 25

Compiled from weekly surveys of close to 500 independent bookstores nationwide in collaboration with the American Booksellers Association. This list reflects sales ending Feb. 21. Book descriptions are based in part on publishers' information.

1. Game Change

Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime

By John Heilemann; Mark Halperin

Weeks on list: 6  •  There is a lot of political gossip in a new book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann: infighting in the Edwards family, Hillary Clinton's hubris and her husband's liabilities, Sarah Palin unable to say Joe Biden's last name and Sen. Harry Reid's now-infamous remark about Barack Obama's skin tone. To get these juicy tidbits, the authors relied on 200 interviews with political insiders, granted anonymity in exchange for their most tantalizing details.

Hardcover, 464pp, $27.99, Harper, Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2010

2. Stones into Schools

By Greg Mortenson

Weeks on list: 12  •   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

3. Just Kids

By Patti Smith

Weeks on list: 5  •   Just Kids is a new memoir by punk icon Patti Smith, which recounts her longtime friendship, romance and creative collaboration with famed photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The two met in 1967, on Smith's first day in New York. They connected over their mutual religious upbringings and attraction to outsider culture. Their friendship spanned more than two decades, ending with Mapplethorpe's death in 1989.

Hardcover, 304pp, $27.00, Ecco, Pub Date: Dec. 30, 2009

4. Committed

A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

By Elizabeth Gilbert

Weeks on list: 7  •  Having both survived painful divorces, Elizabeth Gilbert and Felipe -- the man she fell in love with at the end of her best-selling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love -- promised to love but never marry. However, the couple finds that Felipe, a Brazilian national, will not be able to live in the U.S. unless the two formalize their union. Gilbert relents on her marriage ban, but is prompted to explore the meaning of marriage, in the U.S. and abroad, and its various manifestations through history, in order to come to peace with the institution.

Hardcover, 285pp, $26.95, Viking Books, Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2010

5. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By Rebecca Skloot

Weeks on list: 3  •  Henrietta Lacks is known to scientists simply as "HeLa." She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells -- taken without her knowledge -- became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than 60 years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they would weigh more than 50 million metric tons -- as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses and the atom bomb's effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Author Rebecca Skloot explores the life of Henrietta, the woman behind the science.

Hardcover, 384pp, $26.00, Crown, Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2010

6. The Happiness Project

Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and

By Gretchen Rubin

Weeks on list: 4  •  Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon on a city bus. "The days are long, but the years are short," she realized. "Time is passing, and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter." In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project. With humor and insight, she chronicles 12 months spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. She didn't make drastic changes, but rather focused on improving her life as it was. Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions, and she immersed herself in guiding principles set forth by all manner of experts, from Epicurus to Thoreau to Oprah to the Dalai Lama to see what worked for her -- and what didn't.

Hardcover, 320pp, $25.99, Harper, Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2009

7. Born to Run

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

By Christopher Mcdougall

Weeks on list: 38  •  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

8. Outliers

The Story of Success

By Malcolm Gladwell

Weeks on list: 38  •   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

9. Willie Mays

The Life, The Legend

By James S Hirsch

Weeks on list: 2  •  Willie is perhaps best known for "The Catch" -- his breathtaking over-the-shoulder grab in the 1954 World Series. But he was also a transcendent figure who received standing ovations in enemy stadiums and who, during the turbulent civil rights era, urged understanding and reconciliation. He began as a teenager in the Negro Leagues, became a cult hero in New York, and was the headliner in Major League Baseball's bold expansion to California. With 3,283 hits, 660 home runs and 338 stolen bases, he was a blend of power, speed, and stylistic bravado. In a biography of one of baseball's immortals, James Hirsch presents a complex portrait of one of America's most significant cultural icons.

Hardcover, 640pp, $30.00, Scribner, Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

10. The Checklist Manifesto

How to Get Things Right

By Atul Gawande

Weeks on list: 7  •  Surgeon and writer Atul Gawande's crusade seems utterly mundane at first: He wants surgeons to use checklists to help them avoid mistakes caused by fatigue, flagging attention and other factors. Using anecdotes from aviation, construction and medicine, Gawande sets out to demonstrate that routine works wonders, even though checklists require putting aside pride and the surgeons' mystique of infallibility.

Hardcover, 224pp, $24.50, Metropolitan Books, Pub Date: Dec. 22, 2009

11. What the Dog Saw

And Other Adventures

By Malcolm Gladwell

Weeks on list: 18  •  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

12. Drive

By Daniel H. Pink

Weeks on list: 6  •  Managers have long assumed employees will work harder for financial rewards. In Drive, Daniel Pink argues that people do more if they are given the opportunity to work on their own time, be creative and do good.

Hardcover, 256pp, $26.95, Riverhead Hardcover, Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2009

13. On the Brink

Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System

By Henry M. Paulson,

Weeks on list: 2  •  Soon after Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson was appointed to become the U.S. Treasury secretary in 2006, he found himself at the epicenter of the worst American financial crisis since the Great Depression. In On The Brink, he gives a fast-paced retelling of the high-level decisions that had to be made with lightning speed in order to keep the economy from falling apart.

Hardcover, 496pp, $28.99, Business Plus, Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2010

14. The Kind Diet

A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet

By Alicia Silverstone; Neal D. Barnard

Weeks on list: 2  •  Alicia Silverstone, the actress of Clueless fame, is also a long-time vegan and animal rights activist. In The Kind Diet she makes the case for a meat and dairy free diet as the path to a healthy body and a healthy planet. She suggests roadmaps for those flirting with veganism, who want to reduce meat consumption and explore plant-based substitutes; those looking to convert whole hog to veganism; and those looking to be what she calls "superheroes," and take the vegan diet to the next level with macrobiotics.

Hardcover, 320pp, $29.99, Rodale Books, Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2009

15. Have a Little Faith

A True Story

By Mitch Albom

Weeks on list: 20  •   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