Here is a finger on the pulse of our times. What does it say about our culture that three sharply differing views of American life -- TV pastor Joel Osteen's "Become a Better You," Philip Roth's rueful novel about aging and Alan Greenspan's jittery "The Age of Turbulence" -- arrive just as the presidential race heats up and we contemplate the country's future? It's instructive, and no less revealing, to see the patterns such clusters make as fresh titles rush into stores, eager to win our attention -- a kind of zeitgeist of the day. What follows is a quick, by no means complete list of books due to land on our desks over the next six months. A fascinating snapshot of America. --By Marie Arana
Views of America
Coal River, by Michael Shnayerson (Farrar Straus Giroux, Jan.). A grassroots group in West Virginia fights Big Coal to keep Appalachia green.
I Am America (and So Can You!), by Stephen Colbert (Grand Central, Oct.). How America can get its groove back, by the host of TV's "The Colbert Report."
Memo to the President Elect, by Madeleine Albright (HarperCollins, Jan.). From the former secretary of state: a to-do list for nervous times.
Never Enough, by Joe McGinniss (Simon & Schuster, Nov.). The author of Fatal Vision pens a real-life whodunit about the notorious Kissel murders in Hong Kong and Connecticut.
The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, by Jeffrey Toobin (Doubleday, Sept.). The last quarter century has been high noon in the high court of the land.
The Ten-Cent Plague, by David Hajdu (FSG, March). How comic books spooked -- and forever altered -- the nation.
The Terror Dream, by Susan Faludi (Metropolitan, Oct.). The morning of Sept. 11 and the transfiguration of the American mind.
A Contract with the Earth, by Newt Gingrich and Terry L. Maple (Johns Hopkins Univ., Oct.). A bipartisan call for a new era in environmental stewardship.
Gomorrah, by Roberto Saviano (FSG, Oct.). Caught in the grip of an organized crime network, Naples is rife with murder, toxic substances and illicit Chinese goods.
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt (FSG, Sept.). Two political scientists claim America's pro-Israeli stance is not in its best interest.