Maybe you're trying to get through your book group night without looking like an ass who never reads anything more complicated than InStyle magazine. Or maybe you're just sitting there getting your roots done when your stylist asks you if you ever read that dragon tattoo book. Of course it's okay to say, "No, I never read anything more complicated than InStyle magazine," but sometimes we want to look like we're actually driving through life with two hands on the wheel and a full tank of gas.
So here, let me help you pretend to know what's going on at the top of this week's combined print and e-book bestseller fiction list from The New York Times.
#1 THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett
Plot: In the early years of the civil rights movement, a young white woman nicknamed Skeeter returns to her home town after college ... and confronts the fact that all of her peers are getting married, starting families, and having complicated relationships with the black women they hire to help them manage their households. An aspiring journalist, Skeeter decides to write down the black maids' personal histories, never imagining how dangerous it would be for them to tell the truth about their lives.
How to distract anyone who asks you what you thought of it: "This book was a total gateway drug, I'm going to read everything I can about civil rights and racism in this country now. I have a copy of Eyes on the Prize right here in my bag! It weighs 12 pounds, so I'm building my biceps and improving my grasp on history at the same time."
#2 THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by Stieg Larsson
Plot: Set in the world of Swedish high finance, a journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, is hired to investigate the disappearance of a girl from a prominent family. Along the way he enlists the help of Lisbeth Salander, an asocial young computer whiz with a troubled past, and they realize they are on the hunt for a serial killer.
How to distract anyone who asks you what you thought of it: "The original title of the book in Sweden was 'Men Who Hate Women,' did you know that? It gets pretty dark, I had to watch the entire fourth season of Sex and the City to scrub it out of my head. Who wants appletinis? I have a total crush on Daniel Craig."
#3 11/23/63 by Stephen King
Plot: A time traveler goes back to the years before the assassination of John F. Kennedy (on 11/23/63) to try to prevent it.
How to distract anyone who asks you what you thought of it: "I am now officially obsessed with the early 1960s. Did you listen to those recordings of Jackie Kennedy after her husband was killed? Her pink Chanel suit is in the National Archives and they won't display it for 100 years, AND her pillbox hat is missing. It's going to show up on eBay some day and someone's either going to get arrested or make a fortune."
#4 KILL ALEX CROSS by James Patterson
Plot: Detective Alex Cross investigates the kidnapping of the two children of the President of the United States. A mysterious person tries to thwart him using the FBI, the CIA, and the Secret Service. At the same time, something horrible and contagious is infecting the D.C. water supply.
How to distract anyone who asks you what you thought of it: "James Patterson didn't have a co-author for this book like he usually does, which is too bad because I think he needed the help. I wasn't going to read it but my dad/husband/brother told me I had to. It's good, but if I'm going to read a thriller, I prefer J.D. Robb or Lee Child [or someone you've actually read and can talk about]." If you've never actually read a thriller, say, "OMG, hold still, I think there's a spider in your hair!"
#5 THE LITIGATORS by John Grisham
Plot: A burned-out hot shot lawyer joins a small-time law firm in Chicago and quickly finds himself representing the victims of a popular but deadly cholesterol drug. He ends up being pitted against his former fancy-pants firm, who is representing the drug manufacturer. Hijinx ensue.
How to distract anyone who asks you what you thought of it: "John Grisham cannot not write a best-seller, it's like every lawyer in America buys a hardcover of every one of his books the day they come out. Thank God I don't need drugs to keep my cholesterol down, I hear they make you feel terrible. My father-in-law died of a heart attack, he ate bacon every day of his life. I could never be a vegan. What time is Ellen on?"