May 07, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Hot 100
Get ready to dust off your granddad’s bookcase: Modern Library has released its list of the 100 Best Nonfiction Books published in English in the 20th century, and it consists mostly of core-curriculum titles like The Education of Henry Adams (No. 1), William James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience (No. 2), and Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery (No. 3). Seven African Americans and 12 women appear on the roster, including Rachel Carson (Silent Spring is No. 5). There are, of course, surprise omissions, such as Jane Jacobs’ Death and Life of Great American Cities, as well as surprise choices, such as Janet Malcolm’s The Journalist and the Murderer (No. 97) and Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions (No. 99). Modern Library publishes 11 of the titles; 5 of the 13 judges have books on the list. ”My basic criterion,” says Arthur Schlesinger Jr., whose The Age of Jackson appears at No. 36, ”was which books are likely to be read a hundred years from now.” But he acknowledges the list isn’t perfect. ”The great omission is The American Scene, by Henry James. God knows why it’s not on there.”

Gunning for success
One is a hit HBO series about a family of New Jersey mobsters; the other is a British best-seller about Catholic choir girls. They’re both titled The Sopranos, and both camps are amused by the coincidence. ”We aim to have the same success,” says Farrar, Straus & Giroux’s John Glusman. Though Glusman claims the series hasn’t affected the book’s sales, that may soon change. According to a Borders salesperson, ”That book does move pretty fast. A lot of people are talking about it… because of the TV show.”

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