"I know who I was when I got up this morning,
but I must have changed several times since then."
-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland



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Paper Boys, by Lynn Gordon, Alphabet Soup, 1984. "Boy Meets Boy . . . " Thus begins this lighthearted book of paper dolls. It's weak on plot, but strong on frills. You can dress up the story's stars - for the weekend, a night on the town or even a brunch at mom's - by cutting their outfits from the pages of the book. The challenge will be finding a copy intact.

Paper or Plastic: Searching For Solutions in an Overpackaged World, by Daniel Imhoff, Sierra Club Books, 2005, $16.95, 168 pp. Paper or Glass? The sad answer is "neither". Glass, plastic, paper and aluminum take a huge toll on our resources each year, so the packaging dilemma cannot be solved by an either or decision. Rather, according to Imhoff, consumers need to take a proactive approach at the market and re-use those bags and bottles.

Peace With God, by Billy Graham, Pocket Books, 1974, .95, 210 pp. Not your typical "come to Jesus" book, Peace With God was written with the man in the street in mind, and so Graham's writing is at once compassionate and authoritative. A good refresher for folks feeling their faith wearing thin.

Pencil Drawing Techniques, edited by David Lewis, Watson-Guptill Publications, 1984, $16.95, 144 pp. Covering everything from how to hold a pencil to composing with color, Pencil Drawing Techniques is an ambitious undertaking worth taking a look at. Although it's targeted for the beginner, it never hurts the accomplished artist to brush up on technique.

Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body, by Courtney E. Martin, Free Press, 2007, $25.00, 330 pp. Through interviews with therapists and sociologists, Martin delivers an insightful foray into the new norm of hating one's body, and produces a snapshot of a problem that knows no socio-economic boundaries.

Phantom Encounters, edited by Pat Daniels and Sara Schneidman, Time-Life Books, 1988, 144 pp. Ghosts galore inhabit this, the fifth volume of Time-Life's Mysteries of the Unknown series. The editors have scoured the library shelves for the most fascinating tales to relate to us here. Includes - as Time-Life is reknown for - an exhaustive bibliography. Spooky.

PHP and MySQL For Dynamic Web Sites, by Larry Ullman, Peachpit Press, 2003, $24.99, 572 pp. Although I'd like to give PHP and MySQL a rave review, I just can't. After struggling with the lessons which are promised to offer "Concise, straightforward steps and explanations [to] the fastest way to learn tasks and concepts", they don't.
Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi, Classic Press, 1968, 215 pp. Everyone's favorite childhood puppet is brought to life in this Educator Classic Library edition of Pinocchio. Whimsical illustrations throughout by William Dempster make the characters pop, with terms and subjects in the story a child may not be familiar with defined in the margins, Wikipedia style. Instructions on making a hand puppet and theater joyously harken back to days before play required a wireless device. Translated by Joseph Walker.

Plan of Attack, by Bob Woodward, Simon & Schuster, 2004, $28.00, 467 pp. In an effort to do for the Iraq war what he did for Watergate, Woodward sets out to bring to light the real motivation behind the US invasion.

Player Piano, by Kurt Vonnegut, Laurel, 1988, $4.95, 295 pp. Imagine a world in which engineers have perfected systems to such a degree society functions like a well-oiled machine. Karl Marx did, and the outcome was The Communist Manifesto. Vonnegut imagined it too, and it resulted in Player Piano, Vonnegut's first novel and own manifesto of sorts. Whereas Marx's tome celebrated the achievement of mankind, Vonnegut's story is a clear warning against it. In Marx's utopia individuals are free to pursue their own interests; in Vonnegut's, individualism is shunned for the greater good of society. His is a world in which everybody watches the same cable, drinks the same cola, and uses the same computer operating system. Hmmmmm.

Plays by and About Women, edited by Victoria Sullivan and James Hatch, Vintage Books, 1974, $3.95, 426 pp. The eight plays in this collection were selected for their relevancy to women. All were written in the twentieth century. All were authored by women. All address women's issues. That said, don't read them for any of those reasons; read them because they're powerful.

The Policeman's Beard is Half Constructed, by Racter, Warner Books, 1984, $9.95. This - the first book ever written by a computer - is a collection of prose and poetry by Racter, the most technologically advanced artificial writer of prose synthesis in 1984. More novelty than good literature, The Policeman's Beard is Half Constructed is amazing in that Racter thought it up himself; no operator input is required to spin his wheels. Illustrated by Joan Hall.

Politician, by Piers Anthony, Avon, 1985, $2.95, 345 pp. In this, the third and final installment of the Bio of a Space Tyrant series, Anthony awards success to our hero (Hope Hubris) only to snatch it from his grasp. Hope has defeated his foes, except those working from the inside. He awakens to find he has no memory. His mind has been washed clean by an enemy aiming to fill it with its own agenda. No ordinary man, Hope mounts the psychological fight of his life.

Populuxe, by Thomas Hine, Alfred A. Knopf, 1986, 184 pp. In these pages Thomas Hine celebrates American design of the fifties and sixties. He covers everything from the cars we drove, to the clothes we wore, to the food we cooked and the gadgets we used to cook it with. Beyond the nostalgia, Hine offers a solid commentary on design.

The Power Bright & Shining, by Rod McKuen, Simon and Schuster, 1980, $8.95, 168 pp. There's something about McKuen's poetry that falls flat. Perhaps it's because it comes across as poetry written for the sake of patriotism. Perhaps it's because when I read it I get the feeling the only other people reading it are doing so precisely for patriotism's sake.

A Power Governments Cannot Suppress, by Howard Zinn, City Lights, 2006, $16.95, 287 pp. The Power in Zinn's title is You. In his latest book, everybody's favorite motivational coach takes on The Man.

The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, by Dr. Joseph Murphy, DRS, PhD, DD, LLD, Prentice-Hall, 1988, $6.95, 224 pp. The basic premise of Dr. Murphy's book is that the subconscious mind is capable of incredible accomplishments, if we teach it. Unlike the conscious mind within which we think and form judgments, the subconscious is pure. "It existed before you and I were born, before any church or world existed . . . [It contains] the great eternal truths and principles of life . . . All you have to do is unite mentally and emotionally with the good you wish to embody, and the creative powers of your subconscious will respond accordingly." A popular international lecturer for many years, the author has volumes of anecdotes, many of which he shares here. Simple and magical.

Powers of Healing, edited by Janet Cave and Sara Schneidman, Time-Life Books, 1989, 144 pp. Every culture has its own particular approach to medicine. Here, the editors deliver the widest used techniques alongside some the reader has likely never heard of. It's important that these things be chronicled as new treatments are being developed everyday through the synthesizing of folk remedies. Even aspirin had such an origin. Volume 13 of Time-Life's Mysteries of the Unknown series.

The Practical Organic Gardener, by Brenda Little, Silverleaf Press, 2006, $15.95, 222 pp. This compact guide is essential to any gardener who wants to fully benefit from their organic habits. Going beyond the ABCs of organic gardening, Little delivers practical tips for achieving a pest-free garden without the aid of chemicals.

A Prayer For Owen Meany, by John Irving, Ballantine Books, 1990, $6.99, 617 pp. Owen Meany is perhaps Irving's most comically genuine character to date. He's a slight fella, given none of the breaks life has to offer and speaks in CAPITAL LETTERS. He's also a patriot and stands closer to God than anybody you're likely to read about. Set in New England, Irving's at home sharing this story.

Prelude to a Kiss, by Craig Lucas, E. P. Dutton, 1990, 93 pp. This gem of a play examines unconditional love when on his honeymoon a groom finds his bride has become cancerous, old and male. Far fetched? You bet. The play's magic lies in the lengths the playwright avoids going to achieve it.

Prick Up Your Ears, by John Lahr, Discus, 1980, $3.50, 302 pp. A biography of British playwright Joe Orton, this book - like Orton himself - steps to the beat of psycho thrills. At the pinnacle of success in Britain's West End, Orton's skull was crushed by his own lover. It's a tragic tale made interesting by Lahr's attention to detail and respect for his subject, without which would have abandoned this story to the tabloids.

Propaganda and the Public Mind, by Barsamian and Noam Chomsky, South End Press, 2001, $16.00, 256 pp. In this latest collection of interviews, world-renowned dissident Noam Chomsky offers his personal brand of insight into the institutions that shape public opinion. A thorn in the side of public policy for the last four decades, this volume shows no sign of him letting up.

Psychic Powers, edited by Pat Daniels, Anne Horan and Neil Kagan, Time-Life Books, 1987, 160 pp. This, Volume two of the Mysteries of the Unknown series, spans a period from the mid-1800s to the present. It uncovers some fraudulent mediums from spiritualism's heyday, and suggests the authenticity of some psychics hard at it today. From the ability of a school of fish to turn simultaneously to retired policeman Pat Price's remote viewing capabilities, one cannot help but wonder at the power of the untapped mind.

Psychic Voyages, edited by Jane N. Coughran and Pat Daniels, Time-Life Books, 1989, 144 pp. Reincarnation, astral projection and near-death experiences all have one thing in common: out-of-body phenomena. In this addition (Volume 4) to the Mysteries of the Unknown series, the editors dig deep to uncover intriguing - if not proof conclusive - experiences in psychic travel. Refreshingly, not every previous incarnation documented here are historical figures. Most, in fact, are just plain folks.

Public Enemy #2: An All-new Boondocks Collection, by Aaron McGruder, Three Rivers Press, 2005, $13.95, 174 pp. Think of it as Doonesbury for the new millenium.
Pumping Plastic, by John Cassidy, Klutz Press, 1983, 81 pp. Jumping rope is a great way to achieve cardiovascular fitness, or so Cassidy contends. It's strenuous at any rate. This book - complete with rope - offers a sixteen week exercise plan with jumping rope at its core. It starts you off slow, but by the end the goal is to be up to continuous rope jumping for twelve minutes a day. Challenging? You bet. More challenging will be finding a copy with the rope intact. Check with the publisher; perhaps it's gone into reprint.
Quotations from Our Presidents, The Peter Pauper Press, 1969, $1.25, 62 pp. Chosen for their inspired patriotism and felicity of language, also for the insight they give the reader into the history and development of our nation, Quotations is both entertaining and profound. Published in 1969 - short of Nixon's second term - the final quote is from Tricky Dick himself: "A man who has never lost himself in a cause bigger than himself has missed one of life's mountaintop experiences." Inspirational, to be sure, but not the quote that would come to sum up his political ambition. That came a few years later in the infamous Frost interview that shook the very foundation of American democracy. When pressed on the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up, the former president had this to say: "When the president does it that means it's not illegal." 'Nuf said.


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