East Bay Best-Sellers

What you're buying this month.

East Bay Best-Sellers lists this month’s top-selling books as reported by independent bookstores in the East Bay, including Black Oak, Cody’s, Diesel, Pegasus, and Signal Books.


1.Don’t Think of an Elephant, by George Lakoff (Chelsea Green, $10). Berkeley linguist Lakoff argues that the 2004 election hinged on semantics — how the candidates used language to frame the terms of debate.

2. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book), by the writers of The Daily Show and Jon Stewart (Warner, $24.95). A parody of high-school history textbooks that tries very very hard to be funny.

3. Chronicles, Vol. 1, by Bob Dylan (Simon & Schuster, $24). The first installment of Dylan’s lyrical autobiography starts in 1961 with young Zimmerman’s life-changing arrival in bohemian Manhattan.

4. NEW What’s the Matter With Kansas?, by Thomas Frank (Metropolitan, $24). Anthropological study of those durn ignorant rednecks who simply refuse to be politically enlightened by their intellectual superiors on the coasts.

5. Chain of Command, by Seymour M. Hersh (HarperCollins, $25.95). Released just in time to have no effect on the election, this compilation of New Yorker essays is Hersh at his muckraking best.

6. An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, by Arundhati Roy (Consortium, $12). Roy unabashedly declares America to be the enemy of humankind, to be resisted and defeated globally.

7. NEW Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, by Stephen Greenblatt (Norton, $26.95). This vivid new biography examines the Bard’s personal tribulations and speculates on the origins of his genius.

8. Berkeley High School Slang Dictionary, by Rick Ayers and BHS students (North Atlantic, $6.95). If you’re old enough to shave, you so need this book to understand what those dawgs are saying, yo.

9. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, by David Sedaris (Little, Brown, $24.95). This latest effort by the only man brave enough to call his sister’s feet “hooves” can make you laugh and cry within a single sentence.

10. NEW Berkeley: The Life and Spirit of a Remarkable Town, by Ellen Weis and Kiran Singh (North Atlantic, $16.95). Luscious photographs and lively text capture every imaginable facet of this eccentric burg.


1. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead, $14). Afghanistan’s political upheavals are a striking backdrop for this powerful examination of cultural and personal morality.

2. The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth (Houghton Mifflin, $26). Roth applies his deft touch to a 1940s almost-America in which Charles Lindbergh wins the presidency, leading the nation into fascism.

3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon (Vintage, $12). The year’s most unusual debut novel features an autistic narrator emulating his hero Sherlock Holmes to solve a canine murder.

4. The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri (Houghton Mifflin, $24). Pulitzer-winner Lahiri delivers another masterfully crafted epic of immigrants from India finding new lives in America.

5. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides (Picador, $15). This lyrical family saga of a Greek-American youth halfway between girl and boy snagged a Pulitzer.

6. Old School, by Tobias Wolff (Knopf, $22). An early-’60s New England schoolboy obsessed with literature schemes to meet Hemingway and Frost before realizing he’s a phony himself.

7. NEW The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green, by Joshua Braff (Algonquin, $22.95). Adolescent ’70s angst Jersey-style, seen through the darkly comic lens of a pensive but randy teenage Orthodox Jew.

8. The Known World, by Edward P. Jones (Amistad, $13.95). This disjointed tale of a free black man who owned slaves in antebellum Virginia snagged a Pulitzer.

9. The System of the World, by Neal Stephenson (Morrow, $27.95). This third and final volume of Stephenson’s gargantuan “Baroque Cycle” explores the scientific and political machinations of 18th-century England.

10. Bangkok 8, by John Burdett (Vintage, $12.95). A murder in Thailand’s capital launches this gripping mystery with an irresistible half-Thai, half-American cop narrator.

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