The Independent on Sunday bestsellers list: In the lists

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IF a book about a far-away government's domestic policy sounds an unlikely bestseller, consider Steven W Mosher's account of one Manchurian woman's rebellion against the brutal 'one couple, one child' rule in Maoist China. The secret, of course, is in the title: A Mother's Ordeal. What we hungry readers seem to crave, as these lists constantly remind us, is human drama, the intimate, intricate details of other people's lives. Biography now rivals fiction in popularity and, Yung Chang and Brian Keenan notwithstanding, we're often none too fussy about the quality: some reviewers found the John Arlott memoir decidedly limp, but that hasn't kept it from reaching the number one biography slot.

Shrewd Joan Collins can see right through us. She could have followed the example of other glamour queens and offered us The Joan Collins Workout Book or (the obvious choice) The Complete Joan Collins Guide to Make-up. The title she did pick, for a book comprising a great many photos of her undeniably gorgeous self and some pretty basic hints on clothes, exercise and eye-shadow, goes to the very nub of our shameless addiction: My Secrets.

----------------------------------------------------------------- THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY BESTSELLER LIST ----------------------------------------------------------------- HARDBACKS 1 Justice is a Woman by Catherine Cookson Bantam pounds 14.99 (3/2) 2 Zlata's Diary by Zlata Filipovic Viking pounds 9.99 (1/3) 3 Bravo Two-Zero by Andy McNab Bantam pounds 14.99 (2/22) 4 Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle, Secker pounds 12.99 (11/24) 5 Tony Curtis: The Autobiography by Tony Curtis and Barry Paris Heinemann pounds 16.99 (-/1) 6 The Empty Raincoat by Charles Handy, Hutchinson pounds 10.99 (4/3) 7 Delia Smith's Summer Collection BBC Books pounds 14.99 (13/21) 8 An Imaginative Experience by Mary Wesley, Bantam pounds 14.99 (6/6) 9 My Secrets by Joan Collins Boxtree pounds 14.99 (7/8) 10 Stop The Insanity] by Susan Powter Orion pounds 16.99 (-/1) 11 The Orion Mystery by Robert Bauval & Adrian Gilbert Heinemann pounds 17.99 (5/5) 12C hronicle of 1993 ed Andrew Hunt Chronicle pounds 9.99 (10/6) 13 Eat Your Greens by Sophie Grigson Network pounds 12.99 (9/9) 14 Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course, BBC Books pounds 15.95 (-/3) 15 Michelin Red Guide: Great Britain and Ireland 1994, pounds 10.95 (12/4) PAPERBACKS 1 The Year of the Virgins by Catherine Cookson, Corgi pounds 4.99 (6/2) 2 Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally, Sceptre pounds 5.99 (1/5) 3 A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth Phoenix pounds 8.99 (4/2) 4 Wild Swans by Jung Chang Flamingo pounds 6.99 (2/25) 5 Middlemarch by George Eliot Penguin pounds 3.99 (3/8) 6 The Rector's Wife by Joanna Trollope, Black Swan pounds 5.99 (5/4) 7 The Pelican Brief by John Grisham, Arrow pounds 4.99 (7/6) 8 Johnny and the Dead by Terry Pratchett, Corgi pounds 3.99 (8/2) 9 Diaries by Alan Clark Phoenix pounds 6.99 (9/2) 10 Gardens of England & Wales Open to the Public 1994, National Gardens Scheme pounds 3 (10/3) 11 Twilight's Child by The New Virginia Andrews, Pocket pounds 4.99 (-/1) 12 Missing Joseph by Elizabeth George, Corgi pounds 4.99 (12/6) 13 The House of Eliot by Jean Marsh, Pan pounds 4.99 (-/1) 14 Mixed Blessings by Danielle Steel Corgi pounds 4.99 (-/12) 15 By Stealth by Colin Forbes Pan pounds 4.99 (13/7) (The first figure shows last week's place; the second shows appearances on this list.)

HARDBACK BIOGRAPHY 1 John Arlott: A Memoir by Timothy Arlott, Deutsch pounds 14.99 2 Mad Frank by Frank Fraser Little, Brown pounds 15.99 3 Barcelona to Bedlam: The Terry Venables Story by Guy Nathan New Author Publications pounds 9.95 4 Hardy: A Biography by Martin Seymour-Smith, Bloomsbury pounds 25 5 A J P Taylor by Alan Sisman Sinclair-Stevenson pounds 18.99 6 A Mother's Ordeal by Steven W Mosher, Little Brown pounds 16.99 7 It Ain't as Easy As It Looks: Ted Turner by Porter Bibb Virgin pounds 16.99 8 Mel - The Inside Story by Wensley Clarkson, Blake Publishing pounds 14.99 9 Michael Ayrton: a Biography by Justine Hopkins, Deutsch pounds 25.00 10Joseph Losey: A Revenge on Life by David Caute, Faber pounds 20. Compiled by Bookwatch -----------------------------------------------------------------