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The Monirtor's Guide To BESTELLERS


MONITOR'S PICK EMERSON: THE MIND ON FIRE, by Robert D. Richardson, U. of California Press, $30

One role of the biographer is to rekindle interest in important figures no matter how familiar they may be through their writing.

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Robert D. Richardson's biography ''Emerson: The Mind on Fire'' does just that and more for one of the seminal intellectual and spiritual thinkers of the American experience.

Although Emerson is scarcely a forgotten figure, his very familiarity tends to disguise his amazing originality. His protean, deliberately unsystematic mind resists attempts at classification. Even readers who love his poetically pithy essays, such as ''Self-Reliance,'' ''Compensation,'' and ''Nature,'' may find it hard to imagine the man who wrote them.

But thanks to Professor Richardson's superbly written book, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) takes on the lineaments of a thinking, feeling, entirely believable human being: an awkward middle child initially overshadowed by his seemingly more-gifted brothers; the grief-stricken widower of an aspiring poetess who died at 19; a man who taught himself how to recover from overwhelming bouts of depression by relying on his spiritual inner resources.

Whether he is describing the strange character of Emerson's remarkable aunt, Mary Moody Emerson; Emerson's first meeting with Thomas and Jane Carlyle; or Emerson's responses to his wide-ranging readings, Richardson writes with clarity, vigor, and liveliness that transform his meticulous research into a compellingly readable, highly intelligible story.

b= Favorable review; M= Mixed review; n= Unfavorable review; -= No review noted

The Christian Science Monitor; The New York Times; Kirkus Review of Books; Los Angeles Times; Selected reviews*

1) 1

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MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS, by John Gray, HarperCollins, $23

Written more for the female audience, this easy-to-read guide helps men and women better understand how the other sex communicates. Although redundant and sometimes stereotypical, it goes beyond psychobabble. Gray, who has written an assortment of books on this topic, explores such issues as the difference between a man's silence and a woman's, why men and women resist the other sex's solutions, and how a man reacts when a woman needs to talk. By Shelley Donald Coolidge

b - - - b TT

2) 2


IT TAKES A VILLAGE, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Simon & Schuster, $20

''It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us,'' conveys the personal views and experiences of the first lady about what matters in the rearing of children. Relatively free from jargon, it concerns the complex social issues of child rearing. Comprehensive and topical, if not original; breezy and conversational in a didactic way; autobiographical, yet clearly the work of a policy wonk shaping national policy; this book concerns a subject that should have no rival for our attention. By Jim Bencivenga

M b - b n HC

3) -


How Could You Do That?!, by Laura Schlessinger, HarperCollins, $22

Radio host Laura Schlessinger follows-up her bestseller ''Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives,'' with this look at morality. Her message: Living happily means making choices - often between short-term pleasure and long-term consequences. She doesn't mince words when explaining that people's actions should more frequently be based on character, courage, and conscience. This quick read is full of strong opinions, religious undertones, and advice she's given callers. By Kim Campbell

M - - - -

4) 3


THE WAY OF THE WIZARD, by Deepak Chopra, Harmony, $15.95

A follow-up to the best-selling ''The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success,'' Deepak Chopra's newest book is aimed at people wishing to transform their lives. Based on the teachings of the legendary wizard Merlin, the 20 lessons are intended to be stepping stones to personal and spiritual fulfillment - a tall order likely to leave most readers disappointed. But the underlying theme is helpful to remember: If you want to change the world, change your attitude toward it. By Suzanne MacLachlan

M - M - -

5) 6


THE SEVEN SPIRITUAL LAWS OF SUCCESS, by Deepak Chopra, New World Library, $12.95

Chopra draws points from Eastern philosophies and practices such as Taoism, Vedic Science, meditation, and karma and distills them into a new-age seven-step program. The logic is at times circular and simplistic, and Chopra's attempts to incorporate The Bible and Christian tradition into his text are uneven at best. Nonetheless, while not original, many of the espoused ideas - prayer, generosity, and a nonjudgmental and positive outlook - certainly have merit. By Yvonne Zipp

M - - - -

6) 5


Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot AND OTHER OBSERVATIONS, by Al Franken, Delacort, $21.95

Uncivil discourse in the public square continues. This time it is the left's turn to accuse, insult, ridicule and poke fun at political opponents. Rush Limbaugh and an assortment of conservative politicians and policies are the targets. At its best, this book reads like a stand-up comedy act in a nightclub. (Franken won an Emmy for the TV program ''Saturday Night Live.'') At its worst, it is payback, a collection of leftist bombast as strident and partisan as the polemics broadcast daily on talk-radio. By Jim Bencivenga

n - - - -

7) 4


EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE, by Daniel Goleman, Bantam, $23.95

Goleman asserts that IQ is not destiny; emotional intelligence, the ability to be cool in a bind and make clear decisions, is equally important in a good life. The theories about brain architecture are less interesting than examples of emotional control that establishes solid relationships and cooperation among people. He says those lacking self-control are morally deficient and the conclusions of scientists do not limit one's prospects for success, no matter how troubled one's childhood. By David Holmstrom

b bb- -

8) 7


THE ROAD AHEAD, by Bill Gates, Viking, $29.95

The mogul of Microsoft Corp. gives his view of a technology-rich future, hoping to stimulate ''understanding, debate, and creative ideas....'' The book is smoothly written, albeit open to a charge of serving Microsoft's interests, sprinkled with interesting anecdotes from his own experience and from the history of technology - from Gutenberg to room-size computers. Although many of Gates's predictions are not that new, readers will find the book thought-provoking. By Mark Trumbull

b M - M n BW

9) -


THE BEARDSTOWN LADIES' STITCH-IN-TIME GUIDE, by Robin Dellabough, Hyperion, $19.95

A sequel, this book offers continued common-sense advice from the inestimable ladies investment club of Beardstown, Ill. It is in a category by itself: Besides investment strategies, the ladies present special homemaker tips. Thus, in addition to a discussion of mutual funds, you can also learn how to make a 16-inch dried-flower wreath. There are snapshots of the ladies. A rather quirky book, but it's especially valuable for older women who want an introduction to investing. By Guy Halverson

b M - - M MJ

10) -


time present, time past, by Bill Bradley, Knopf, $25

Part memoir, part political manifesto, this intriguing volume says a lot about national politics today, and during the past three decades. A former Rhodes scholar, professional basketball player, and a United States senator from New Jersey since 1979, Bradley displays an impressive understanding of many issues, especially race. But while seeking a ''third way'' between liberals and conservatives, he often lapses into partisanship and his economic analyses are sometimes flawed. By Lawrence J. Goodrich

b M b - b CT

11) -


THE ZONE, by Barry Sears, HarperCollins, $22

This book purports to counteract the genetic programming of disease, excessive weight, loss of mental proficiency and physical performance through diet. The author develops a theory of ''food as drug'' that promises optimal health when eating the right foods in the right proportions. Contains minute technical details of disease, case studies, and a road map for achieving life in the ''Zone,'' a state of being suggesting the perfect union of body and mind. By Jim Bencivenga

M - - - -

12) -


Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt, Random House, $23

This zany portrait of Savannah, Ga., sings with wonderfully original characters. It tells the universal tale of small-town life in which neighborly rivalries and gossip are resident's pastimes. But Savannah's characters are even more outrageous - sometimes more sensuous - than those of most small towns: from a good natured con-man who invites the town to raucous parties in other peoples' houses to ''The Lady Chablis'' - a drag queen who crashes debutant balls. By Abraham McLaughlin

b - bb - -

13) 8


Charles Kuralt's America, by Charles Kuralt, Putnam, $24.95

Retiring from CBS after 37 years, Kuralt decided to take a year off to travel. He revisited 12 of his favorite areas of the country during their peaks: Charleston when the azaleas are in bloom, Montana during fly fishing season. Despite the occasional bout with ego (he devotes an entire chapter to a daffodil: the narcissus Charles Kuralt), the result is an engaging travelogue of his experiences and the widely varied people he met - from a Haida totem-carver to a famous saddlemaker. By Yvonne Zipp

b - - - b DM

14) 14


MY POINT ... AND I DO HAVE ONE, by Ellen DeGeneres, Bantam, $19.95

Musings on God, airplane food, and the Iditarod dog race await readers of this offbeat, meandering work by comedienne and TV sitcom star Ellen DeGeneres. The Louisiana native, once dubbed the Funniest Person in America by the Showtime network, offers material that ranges from pithy lists to long, digressing stories. Fans will find plenty of Ellenisms in this quick read, although some of the author's bits are racy, and some of the humor falls flat. By Kim Campbell

M M - - -

15) 11


Longitude, by Dava Sobel, Walker, $19

Before wireless and global positioning satellites, the most vexing problem in navigation was to determine longitude: how far east or west you had sailed. This handsome volume is the account of the solution to this problem and how time provided the answer to determining a ship's position on the ocean's surface. Counter to the 18th-century's scientific establishment, John Harrison labored for 40 years to build his natuical chronometer, a clock reliable enough to keep time at sea. By Frederick Pratter

b b M - b CT


*Tampa Tribune; Houston Chronicle; Business Week; Milwaukee Journal; Chicago Tribune; Dallas Morning News

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