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A . . . My Name is Alice, conceived by Joan Micklin Silver and Julianne Boyd, Samuel French, 1985, 65 pp. Ever read a musical review? It's similar to reading a play, but with lyrics sans the musical accompaniment. It's an interesting exercise; plot kind of falls to the wayside. This review, almostly entirely written for women, is light and comical. The Plot . . . what plot?

Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times, by Zoe Weil, New Society Publishers, 2003, $17.95, 259 pp. As the president of the International Institute for Humane Education, Weil is a promoter of humanitarian values in education. Above All, is based on four principles: providing information; teaching critical thinking; instilling reverence, respect and responsibility; and offering positive choices. The goal is to raise compassionate children with respect for the environment and others. Includes case studies that drive home her points.

ACEEE's Green Book: The Environmental Guide to Cars & Trucks, Model Year 2003, by John DeCicco and James Kliesch, ACEEE, 2003, $8.95, 151 pp. Consumer Reports for greens, the nonprofit American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) produced this guide to assist environmentally conscience consumers in making vehicle purchases. It rates - according to earth friendliness - all 2003 makes and models.
Active Measures, by Janet Morris and David Drake, Baen, 1985, $3.95, 365 pp. The premise of this novel panders to the paranoia of the Cold War eighties during which it was published. Written as an espionage-thriller, the publisher offered $10,000 to the reader who could answer seven fundamental questions about its storyline. What we do know: the president of the United States is a Soviet spy. It's not the best espionage novel, but the premise is interesting enough to warrant its purchase from your favorite secondhand bookstore.

Adobe InDesign: Classroom in a Book, by The Staff of Adobe, Adobe Press, 1999, $45.00, 439 pp. The title says it all. Published by Adobe Systems to support their hybrid program of word processing and graphics, it's a good instruction manual. The lessons are clear, methodical, and the supporting CD-ROM leaves little to accident. InDesign combines elements of Pagemaker and Photoshop into one program, integrating Adobe's two most popular (and powerful) products. Adobe has a good track record when it comes to textual support, however, Classroom in a Book has got about as much soul as a corporate financial sheet, and we prefer the color illustrations of Adobe's InDesign user manual.
After the Banquet, by Yukio Mishima, Berkley Publishing, 1971, $1.25, 192 pp. Ross Perot made a bid for the oval office in 1988. He failed. He was quoted then as saying, "War has rules, mud wrestling has rules - politics has no rules." He didn't need to run for office to figure that one out. It's the crux of Yukio Mishima's After the Banquet, a novel of political intrigue and lack of self-awareness. Mishima has a knack for capturing the human condition with such clarity as to make one blush. His protagonists are train wrecks, and like train wrecks, are hard not to stare at, slack-jawed in disbelief, for their brutally honest portrayals. He's at the top of his game with Banquet. Translated by Donald Keene.

After the Ecstacy, the Laundry, by Jack Kornfield, Bantam Books, 2000, $15.95, 313 pp. Drawing from Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu and Sufi traditions, Kornfield explains how enlightenment can be achieved and maintained in a modern lifestyle. The inner spirit can be transformed through enlightenment, but it won't make the laundry go away.

After the Fall, by Arthur Miller, The Viking Press, 1964, $2.50, 114 pp. Miller was, for a time, married to Marilyn Monroe. In this two act masterpiece, he attempts to purge the lingering demons of that union - and other ghosts as well - through the thoughts and actions of the play's protagonist, Quentin. Demons, however, are difficult to exorcise.

Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, by Richard A. Clarke, Free Press, 2004, $27.00, 304 pp. In what may only be described as impeccable timing, Against All Enemies by former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke was released in an election year, during a war growing increasingly difficult and unpopular, while the panel reviewing the events of 9/11 was convening. In it he paints a scathing picture of G. Dubya's White House, fraught with the peddling of personal agenda ahead of the welfare of America.

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, HarperSanFrancisco, 1993, $18.00, 177 pp. Set in Saharan Africa sometime between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries, The Alchemist is about that certain click one gets when pursuing his/her true path. It's also about the interconnectedness of all things. Through the story's protagonist, a Spanish boy named Santiago, Coelho guides the reader through the process of recognizing opportunities that will ultimately lead one to know and trust their heart. Coelho writes in Portuguese, so it's hard to judge his writing from a work that's been translated to English, but rest assured The Alchemist is original and thoroughly enjoyable. Translated by Alan R. Clarke.

Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, W. W. Norton & Co., 1971, $4.95, 434 pp. A world of wonder opens up when Alice falls down a rabbit hole. Are all rabbits' worlds so wonderful? This edition, edited by Donald J. Gray, includes Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, The Hunting of the Snark and a bunch of critical essays.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll, New American Library, 1960, 238 pp. Carroll's classic tales with a foreword by Horace Gregory and illustrations from John Tenniel.

All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy, Vintage, 1993, $13.00, 302 pp. Set in Texas and Mexico, McCarthy writes about a paradise of the mind. It follows a couple of misplaced cowboys on their quest for nirvana; great spreads of unfenced ranch land over which they can play their cowboy games. His writing style might take a few pages to get your mind around (he writes with an aversion to punctuation), but once accomplished McCarthy delivers in adroit fashion. He is uniquely gifted in folding acute detail into his writing in such a way it flows with the unencumbered grace of the bareback ponies he's so fond of writing about, and for which he won the National Book Award. Destined for the American Classics list.

Alternatives to the Peace Corps: A Guide to Global Volunteer Opportunities, by Paul Backhurst, Food First Books, 2006, $11.95, 144 pp. Alternatives to the Peace Corps is a great source for short-term volunteerism. Includes opportunities at home as well as abroad, and study overseas.

America (the Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction, by Jon Stewart and the writers of the Daily Show, Warner Books, 2004, $24.95, 227 pp. In America, Jon Stewart does for published political satire what he does for the airwaves from his post at the Daily Show.

American Birds, by Roland C. Clement, Ridge Press, 1970, $3.50, 160 pp. At the time of publication, Clement was vice president of the American Audubon Society. He does for bird watchers what Joel Arem did for rock hounds in Rocks and Minerals (Ridge Press, $2.25). It's packed with full color photos throughout, and includes helpful tips for sighting and identifying your winged friends.

American Buffalo, by David Mamet, Grove Press, 1977, 106 pp. David Mamet has a rare command of the English language. In this, his Broadway debut, he writes about three guys whose world evolves around a junk shop. They're small time crooks, looking for the ever-elusive big heist. A play in two acts, it explores the vagaries of loyalty and suspicion among petty thieves. A stunning achievement.

American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, by Chris Hedges, Free Press, 2007, $25.00, 254 pp. God and country: In American Fascists, Hedges confirms that nagging suspicion there's more to the War on Terrorism than meets the eye. In it, he alleges the Christian Right is poised to put an end to American free society; they're just waiting for the opportunity in the form of the next national security crisis. Scary stuff.

The American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, edited by Christopher Brickell and H. Marc Cathey, DK Publishing, 2004, $80.00, 1103 pp. The American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants is a mammoth book. Brickell and Cathey have done an outstanding job gathering all the information a gardener is likely to want on plants - some 15,000 of them - into one place. The descriptions are thorough. They've included a glossary of terms alongside a visual glossary of leaves and flowers most gardeners will find helpful, and the most detailed plant heat-zone map of the United States you may ever lay your eyes on. For all this encyclopedia has going for it though, it lacks the primary ingredient that would make it a great reference book: soul.

American Power and the New Mandarins, by Noam Chomsky, The New Press, 2002, $18.95, 404 pp. In a timely re-printing, Chomsky's first political book spanks the bejeezus out of Vietnam-era war proponents. Today, with America on the verge of war in the Middle East and China blossoming into an economic powerhouse, the analysis offered in American Power is unexpectedly relevant. Forward by Howard Zinn.

American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century, by Kevin Phillips, Viking, 2006, $26.95, 462 pp. Further proof that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects, edited by Janet Cave, Laura Foreman, Jim Hicks and Sara Schneidman, Time-Life Books, 1989, 176 pp. Volume 11 of the Mysteries of the Unknown series, Ancient Wisdom is a fairly balanced look at such mystic groups as the Freemasons and Rosicrucians. What the editors give us is information gleaned from historical documents - rumors and questionable testimony included - leaving it to the reader to form an opinion. Illustrated essays abound.

Andy Warhol, by Klaus Honnef, Benedikt Taschen, 1990, 96 pp. Though light on text, this slim volume makes good use of the more than 100 reproductions it contains. While the reader may come away knowing very little new about Warhol, the artist's life will no doubt have a sense of chronology it lacked before. Love him or hate him, Warhol made art "pop", and this book is a good source for examples of how he did it.

Angela's Ashes, by Frank McCourt, Scribner, 1996, 363 pp. Angela's Ashes is 363 pages of pure Irish yarn. McCourt won a Pulitzer for this muck strewn tale about his experience growing up poor, Catholic and Irish. Poverty has never been written about with such aplomb.

Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames, by Thich Nhat Hanh, Riverhead Books, 2001, $23.95, 227 pp. In this, another volume by everybody's favorite Buddhist peace activist, Hanh illustrates the connection between inner emotions and emotions in the world around us. One does not exist without profoundly affecting the other. Just the sort of lesson needed by an uncertain world.

Animal Designs for Coloring 12, by Ruth Heller, Grosset & Dunlap, 1979, $2.50. In this, the twelfth book of the series, the focus is on owls. A coloring book for adults, no one will fault you for letting the crayons be and enjoying the designs just the way they are.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver, HarperCollins, 2007, $26.95, 384 pp. Kingsolver does for homegrown meals in Animal, Vegetable what Morgan Spurlock did for fast food in Super Size Me: She eats nothing but local and homegrown food for a year and analyzes the results. Recipes.

Another Roadside Attraction, by Tom Robbins, Ballantine Books, 1987, $3.95, 337 pp. Robbins has a knack for breaking the rules of style, but somehow it works for him. His writing - whether teetering on the edge of psychosis in its structure or summarily dismissing mainstream thinking in its storylines - is always fast, witty and unencumbered by the rules of other novelists. As the reader you've no other option but to simply relax and trust you'll be delivered unharmed. Another Roadside Attraction requires a double dose of that trust. It's a psychedelic rocket ride that ultimately challenges everything from Catholic theology to intellectualism. Hold on to your hat!

Ansel Adams, by Barry Pritzker, Crescent Books, 1991, $16.99, 112 pp. Pritzker's book on Ansel Adams' work is a classic. With 69 photographs, it covers Adams' major assignments with the Department of the Interior. The surprise for the reader of Ansel Adams are the photographer's subjects beyond the DOI: His portrait work and still lifes. Though Adams stands out as an untouchable in his field, he was influenced by the early American photographer Timothy O'Sullivan, Alfred Stieglitz and Paul Strand. The genius of Adams was in applying their theories of light and composition to the natural subjects he predominantly sought out for photographing.

Anton Chekhov: Four Plays, translated by David Magarshack, Hill and Wang, 1969, 244 pp. Chekhov writes with a sense of realism unique to him. His plays are generally a blend of tragedy and comedy. This volume includes: The Sea Gull, Uncle Vanya, The Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard.

Anything For Billy, by Larry McMurtry, Pocket Books, 1989, $5.50, 408 pp. Fortunately, I have two friends who are avid McMurtry fans; eventually they pass his books my way. Having made his mark as one of the best modern American storytellers with The Last Picture Show, McMurtry continues to prove his place. In Anything For Billy he captures the spirit of Billy the Kid by surrounding him with unforgettable characters who - like Billy - more closely resemble the boys next door than the rapscallions they're so eager to be remembered as.

The Art of Drama, edited by R. F. Dietrich, William E. Carpenter and Kevin Kerrane, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976, 781 pp. This anthology contains sixteen plays representing the major trends in Western theatre. It begins with the Greek classic, Oedipus Rex, and concludes with Paul Zindel's The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. In between are such classics as Twelfth Night, A Doll's House, The Cherry Orchard, Death of a Salesman, A Raisin in the Sun, The Misanthrope, The Harry Ape and more. An excellent collection for the theatre student or literature buff.

The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace, by Jack Kornfield, Bantam Books, 2002, $18.95, 224 pp. In the Buddhist tradition, Kornfield offers meditations for lives void of peace, love and compassion.

The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry, by Wendell Berry, Counterpoint Press, 2002, $26.00, 330 pp. Berry is well known for his criticism of our consumer-based, profit-driven society. He - sometimes poetically, sometmes self-righteously - links it to the degradation of our environment and social structure. The Art of the Commonplace is both a great introduction for those not familiar with Berry, and a superb collection for those who already are.

Attitude: The New Subversive Political Cartoonists, edited by Ted Rall, NBM Publishing, 2002, $13.95, 128 pp. Ted Rall, a prominent newcomer to the arena of political cartooning, edits this volume of cartoons that deftly turn their mainstream counterparts on their ears. Includes interviews with twenty of the cartoonists.

Attitude 2: The New Subversive Alternative Cartoonists, edited by Ted Rall, NBM Publishing, 2004, $13.95, 127 pp. The second in the Attitude series, Attitude 2 features 21 cartoonists whose work appears regularly in trashy little weekly alternatives. Included are eye-opening interviews with the cartoonists themselves. Prepare to laugh.

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, by Barack Obama, Crown, 2006, $25.00, 375 pp. The Dem's newest star reflects on DC politics with wit and humor, resurrecting the vision of our forefathers from the ashes of Washington's latest folly.


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