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December 22, 1996

Fiction

AIRFRAME by Michael Crichton (Alfred A. Knopf: $26) A mysterious glitch threatens the production of a profitable jetliner (1). Southern California ranking: 1; Last Weeks: 1; Week on List: 2

THE FALLEN MAN by Tony Hillerman. (HarperCollins: $24) Two sleuths track a killer after finding a human skeleton at the top of a Navajo shrine (6). Southern California ranking: 2; Last Weeks: 2; Week on List: 2

THE LAWS OF OUR FATHERS by Scott Turow. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux: $26.95) (9)*. Southern California ranking: 3; Last Weeks: 5; Week on List: 8

ALIAS GRACE by Margaret Atwood. (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday: $24.95.) A 19th century psychologist helps a murderess with memory loss to recall her crime. Southern California ranking: 4; Last Weeks: 4; Week on List: 4

THE CHRISTMAS BOX by Richard Paul Evans. (Simon & Schuster: $12.95) A wise elderly lady teaches a young family about the true meaning of Christmas (2). Southern California ranking: 5; Last Weeks: --; Week on List: 10

THE JESTER HAS LOST HIS JINGLE by David Saltzman, with an afterword by Maurice Sendak. (The Jester Company: $20) A court jester searches for laughter to bring it home to his unhappy kingdom. Southern California ranking: 6; Last Weeks: --; Week on List: 1

THE TAILOR OF PANAMA by John le Carre. (Alfred A. Knopf: $25) Clothier to Central America's elite turns British agent for the power and the money (11)*. Southern California ranking: 7; Last Weeks: 3; Week on List: 8

THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN by Jacquelyn Mitchard. (Viking: $23.95) A child's vanishing and the cruel aftershock felt by his family (5). Southern California ranking: 8; Last Weeks: 8; Week on List: 12

THE DISCOVERY OF DRAGONS by Graeme Base. (Abrams: $16.95) Vivid illustrations accompany an eccentric scientist's tales of the Eastern Temple Worm and other terrifying creatures. Southern California ranking: 9; Last Weeks: --; Week on List: 1

AFTER RAIN by William Trevor. (Viking: $22.95) Love and estrangement haunt the lives of Irish farmers and town dwellers. Southern California ranking: 10; Last Weeks: --; Week on List: 2

Nonfiction

MY STORY by Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, with Jeff Coplon. (Simon & Schuster: $24) (13). Southern California ranking: 1; Last Weeks: --; Week on List: 2

A REPORTER'S LIFE by Walter Cronkite. (Alfred A. Knopf: $26.95) (1). Southern California ranking: 2; Last Weeks: --; Week on List: 1

ANGELA'S ASHES by Frank McCourt. (Scribner: $24) A memoir of childhood in a gloomy Irish city (5). Southern California ranking: 3; Last Weeks: 3; Week on List: 8

ROGER EBERT'S BOOK OF FILM: From Tolstoy to Tarantino, the finest writing from a century of film edited by Roger Ebert. (Norton: $30). Southern California ranking: 4; Last Weeks: --; Week on List: 1

MY DARK PLACES: An L.A. Crime Memoir by James Ellroy. (Alfred A. Knopf: $25) The writer's exhaustive search for answers to his mother's murder in 1958. Southern California ranking: 5; Last Weeks: 1; Week on List: 5

THE ZONE by Barry Sears with Bill Lawren. (HarperCollins/ReganBooks: $22)*. Southern California ranking: 6; Last Weeks: 5; Week on List: 40

SIMPLE ABUNDANCE: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach. (Warner: $17.95) (8)*. Southern California ranking: 7; Last Weeks: 6; Week on List: 19

MY SERGEI: A Love Story by Ekaterina Gordeeva with E.M. Swift. (Warner: $18.95) The romance and tragedy of Olympic ice skating's Romeo and Juliet (2). Southern California ranking: 8; Last Weeks: 10; Week on List: 5

DOWN IN THE GARDEN by Anne Geddes. (Cedco Publishing: $39.95) Adorable infants posed as flowers, peas in a pod and other floral delights (12). Southern California ranking: 9; Last Weeks: 8; Week on List: 2

THE NBA AT 50 Edited by Mark Vancil, with foreword by David Halberstam. (Park Lane Press: $50) A celebration of basketball's players and coaches, past and present. Southern California ranking: 10; Last Weeks: 7; Week on List: 2

Paperbacks: FICTION

1. THE ENGLISH PATIENT by Michael Ondaatje. (Vintage: $11.)

2. THE BOOK OF RUTH by Jane Hamilton. (Anchor: $11.95.)

3. SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS by David Guterson. (Vintage: $12.)*

4. THE HUNDRED SECRET SENSES by Amy Tan. (Ballantine: $6.99.)

5. BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES OF 1996 edited by John Edgar Wideman. (Houghton Mifflin: $12.95.)

Paperbacks: NONFICTION

1. ZAGAT SURVEY 1997 LOS ANGELES/SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA RESTAURANT GUIDE edited by Merrill Shindler and Karen Berk. (Zagat Survey: $10.95.)

2. THE RULES: Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider. (Warner: $14.95.)

3. VIEW WITH A GRAIN OF SAND by Wislawa Szymborska. (Harcourt Brace and Company: $12.)

4. SIX DEGREES OF KEVIN BACON by Craig Fass, Brian Turtle and Mike Ginelli; with an introduction by Kevin Bacon. (Plume: $7.95.)

5. LONGITUDE by Dava Sobel. (Penguin: $10.95.)

Rankings based on Times' poll of local bookstores. National hardcover rankings (in parentheses) are those of Publishers Weekly. Asterisk (*) indicates book also available on audio (source: Sound Audio Books Distributing, Agoura Hills).

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