A cheat sheet to bestsellers -- How to convince your friends you?ve read ''In Defense of Food,'' ''People of the Book,'' and ''Tom Cruise''

By Tina Jordan
February 08, 2008 at 05:00 AM EST

A cheat sheet to bestsellers

In Defense of Food
Michael Pollan
The Basics
Contrary to popular opinion, Pollan believes that dietary fat is not usually bad. But he has cross words for diet books and crazes.
The Bluff
”I used to be all about protein bars and powdered shakes. But Pollan says you can’t get better nutrition through chemistry. If my grandma wouldn’t have eaten it, I won’t either.”

The Pillars of the Earth
Ken Follett
The Basics
In a 1989 novel recently blessed by Oprah, Follett details the 40-year struggle to build a cathedral in a 12th-century British town.
The Bluff
”It’s got a lot of good stuff about Gothic architecture — I learned how flying buttresses hold up enormous stone walls full of stained-glass windows.”

Tom Cruise
Andrew Morton
The Basics
Despite all the brouhaha surrounding this unauthorized bio about the actor’s rise to weirdness, there’s little new here.
The Bluff
”Morton claims that within 12 hours of Suri’s arrival, Cruise had Katie and the baby on a plane headed to their Colorado ranch for a week of Scientology-inspired silence. I don’t buy it.”

People of the Book
The Basics
In this novel, a book restorer named Hanna Heath learns the history and secrets behind the Sarajevo Haggadah — a real Jewish religious volume, written on calfskin, that dates back to 1350.
The Bluff
”It totally reminded me of Annie Proulx’s Accordion Crimes, which followed one accordion for a hundred years.”