Kate Ward
September 12, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

With powerhouses like Rhonda Byrne and David Sedaris currently crowding the nonfiction list, it’s refreshing to find that author Tom Vanderbilt was able to merge into the bunch with a book simply about Traffic. His exploration of driving behaviors and patterns, which critics have tagged the Freakonomics of cars, recently debuted at No. 15 on the PW chart, thanks to stellar reviews and an appearance on the Today show. It didn’t hurt that Vanderbilt tackled a subject that affects most Americans on a daily basis. ”It’s one of those few things that is a universal experience,” says the author. ”I find you can instantly start an argument by bringing up driving.”

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