Getting a Grip

Ski instructor, novelist (Same Blood) and leader of fear workshops Mermer Blakeslee teaches readers to accept fear "as a habitual acquaintance in an imaginative, meaningful life" in In the Yikes Zone: A Conversation With Fear. Using skiing as a metaphor, she argues that surrendering and "letting go" are an essential part of any creative process—one must plunge down that mountain or dive into that new job. While the analogy of the slopes may cloud her advice for nonskiers, there's plenty of encouragement (and examples of folks who've succeeded) in these pages. (Dutton, $23.95 240p ISBN 0-525-94638-1; Feb.)

The kid who steals lunch money, the overdemanding spouse, the boss who publicly berates an employee: no matter the age or the environment, if the cruelty they express is "frequent and systematic," they're bullies, say Jane Middelton-Moz and Mary Lee Zawadski. In Bullies: From the Playground to the Boardroom, the authors present interviews with the bullies and with the people they've abused; strategies to cope with (and avoid altogether) bullying situations; and analysis of playground, relationship and workplace bullies. (Health Communications, $12.95 paper 208p ISBN 1-55874-986-1; Feb.)

Film Studs

Whether they prefer the early, low-budget sex, lies, and videotape or Erin Brockovich, Steven Soderbergh fans will appreciate a new collection of interviews with this year's "It" filmmaker put together by editor Anthony Kaufman. Steven Soderbergh: Interviews features conversations with the director that originally appeared in publications like Rolling Stone and the Village Voice, spanning from 1989 to 2000. With his famously self-deprecating sense of humor, the director reflects on all stages of his career, from his phenomenal freshman success with sex, lies through the indie efforts of the mid-'90s to recent blockbusters Out of Sight, Traffic and Ocean's 11. (Univ. of Mississippi, $46 192p ISBN 1-57806-428-7; paper $18 -429-5; Mar.)

Cinematherapy, "a bubble bath for the soul," means looking to movies to soothe your anxieties and sort out your troubles, explain authors Nancy Peske and Beverly West in Advanced Cinematherapy: The Girl's Guide to Finding Happiness One Movie at a Time. In this lighthearted follow-up to Cinematherapy: The Girl's Guide to Movies for Every Mood, they corral the most important "Codependency Movies," "Understanding Your Man Movies," "Control Issue Movies," "Midlife Crisis Movies" and many other categories to suit every emotional quandary. Reprising their breezy, chatty style, the authors warn women away from lame so-called "chick flicks," offer tidbits of movie trivia and include recipes that complement the movies. (Dell, $13.95 paper 240p ISBN 0-440-50915-7; Mar.)

The best films of every 20th-century cinematic era are highlighted in Film: The Critics' Choice. Divided into categories like "America: The Studio Years," "Europe: New Waves" and "British Cinema," this glossy, illustrated volume offers a brief, informative description of each film that puts the work and its creator in cultural context, written by contemporary critics like University of Wisconsin film studies professor David Bordwell and the Village Voice's Amy Taubin. Some films are celebrated classics, others will probably be controversial (Eyes Wide Shut, or the choice of Wong Kar-Wai's Happy Together over his earlier Chungking Express), but in all cases the authors passionately defend their selections. (Billboard/Watson-Guptill, $40 352p ISBN 0-8230-1744-3; Jan.)

Legendary critic and New York University cinema studies professor Robert Sklar chronicles over 100 years of cinema in A World History of Film. Lushly illustrated with color and black-and-white photos, the book covers everything from 1920s American animation to Czech films of the '60s to Titanic. Sklar concisely explains the rise and fall of various cinematic trends—documentaries and fiction films alike—describing the most important films of each movement. He covers Latin American, Asian and African cinema, including early 20th-century filmmaking in Brazil and Japan. (Abrams, $75 592p ISBN 0-8109-0606-6; Jan.)

January Publications

Chris Bobel, an associate professor of women's studies at the University of Massachusetts, takes a sociologist's eye and a feminist's heart to her study of a certain kind of parenting in The Paradox of Natural Motherhood. Through case studies of five women and interviews with dozens more, Bobel explores (admiringly and critically) how modern women can make seemingly old-fashioned choices—to be full-time moms, to home-school their children or to practice alternative medicine. (Temple Univ., $18.95 paper 240p ISBN 1-56639-907-6)

Authors of the Wall Street Journal's "Tastings" column about wine, husband and wife John Brecher and Dorothy J. Gaiter have also teamed up to write their memoir, Love by the Glass: Tasting Notes from a Marriage. Gaiter, who's black, and Brecher who's white, grew up in segregated Florida towns and met at the Miami Herald. With warmth and humor, they recall their courtship and wedding, the arrival of children and their long careers as journalists. All the important life passages, from a new job at Newsweek to the birth of their daughter, are marked by memorable bottles, and the couple describes how they went from enthusiasts to collectors to critics. (Villard, $24.95 320p ISBN 0-375-50560-1)

In his follow-up to the popular e-book Unleashing the Ideavirus, marketing guru Seth Godin uses Darwin's theory of evolution as an extended metaphor for how companies have to constantly change in order to adapt to unstable economic environments. Survival Is Not Enough: Zooming Evolution, and the Future of Your Company maintains that in these uncertain times, business owners have to constantly tinker with their marketing, products, and personnel, even if they've already discovered some successful strategies. While he lays the metaphors on a little thick, Godin's otherwise clear, crackling prose and real-life examples make the book an engaging read. (Free Press, $26 288p ISBN 0-7432-2571-6)

Mustard gas, sarin, hemorrhagic fever viruses, vomiting agents, biological toxins—the weapons described in Chemical and Biological Warfare: A Comprehensive Survey for the Concerned Citizen will make a disaster junkie's head spin, but author Eric Croddy, a Monterey Institute of International Studies research associate, is careful to avoid unnecessary alarmism in this primer on unconventional weapons. He describes the various existing chemical and biological weapons, how they work, and which countries own them, evaluating the threat that each kind of weapon poses and the likelihood of its use. For the most part, he argues, this weaponry is still prohibitively expensive. Whether he's right or not, this is a thorough, understandable crash course. (Copernicus, $27.50 312p ISBN 0-387-95076-1)

"By the standards of Surrealist bohemia and Surrealist chic, [Magritte] might as well have been a grocer," writes Time art critic Robert Hughes in his brief introduction to The Portable Magritte, a glossy, compact collection of 400 works spanning the career of the phlegmatic Belgian painter. Familiar images like the clouded iris of The False Mirror, the seamlessly conjoined canvases and landscapes of The Human Condition and all the men in bowler hats are supplemented by lesser known experiments in cubism, impressionism and expressionism. (Universe, $29.95 paper 440p ISBN 0-7893-0665-4)

Celebrated for his remarkably precise, soft-colored illustrations of roses, 18th- and 19th-century botanical painter Pierre-Joseph Redouté immortalized Josephine Bonaparte's garden and illustrated Rousseau's La Botanique, among other achievements. Redouté's Flowers gathers more than 60 watercolors and engravings from throughout his career. Alongside the roses are camellias, irises, hyacinths and scores of other flowers both exotic and native European. A concise biography by the editor, Jill, Duchess of Hamilton, explains that Redouté had been a star botany student in Paris and achieved his extraordinary level of detail by studying his subjects under a microscope. (Sterling, $14.95 96p ISBN 0-304-35612-3)

Hip-hop stars Adam Yauch, Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond—the Beastie Boys—sing, clown around, play video games, shoot baskets, mug for the camera and seemingly never stop moving in Pass the Mic: Beastie Boys 1991—1996, a collection of intimate photographs by Ari Marcopoulos (Transitions and Exits). A product of the five years Marcopoulos followed the artists, the grainy, mostly black-and-white candids show the musicians on their Check Your Head tour, at Lollapalooza, in the recording studio and just hanging out. The collection now seems a poignant testament to youth culture just before dot-com mania swallowed up the young'uns. (PowerHouse [D.A.P., dist.], $50 144p ISBN 1-57687-108-8)

Paperweights shaped like pugs, bronze casts of Labrador retrievers and oil portraits of terriers are among the works gathered in A Breed Apart: The Art Collections of the American Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog, which features dog art from the last 200 years. William Secord (Dog Painting 1840— 1940) focuses on European and American painting of the 19th century (the high-water mark of both dog painting and dog breeding) with special attention to the pioneering Sir Edwin Landseer, animal painter to Queen Victoria. There are some impressionist-inspired 20th-century paintings as well, but not a single poker table anywhere. (Antique Collectors' Club, $80 332p ISBN 1-85149-400-6)

A companion to the Whitney Museum of American Art exhibit of the same name, Into the Light: The Projected Image in American Art 1964—1977 is the first documentation of the ephemeral but influential films, video sculptures and projected installations of the period. Works featured in the book include Lupe, Andy Warhol's film about the suicide of actress Lupe Velez; Robert Whitman's installation Shower, in which an image of a woman taking a shower is projected onto a shower stall with running water; and Yoko Ono's Sky TV, a video sculpture in which a camera is aimed at the sky and the images televised in the gallery. Photographs of the pieces are accompanied by detailed explanations of how they were originally projected. (Abrams, $45 192p ISBN 0-8109-6830-4)

A practical compendium based on author Stuart Spencer's experience crafting plays (Resident Alien; The Rothko Room; etc.) and teaching at Sarah Lawrence College, The Playwright's Guidebook offers counsel on issues like structure, conflict, character and problem-solving. This contemporary guide fills the gaps left open by many books, supplying organized and realistic advice for would-be playwrights. As Spencer says, "A play is more wrought than written. A playwright constructs a play as a wheelwright once constructed a wheel: a general shape is laid out, and then hammered, bent, nailed, reshaped, hammered again and again, until finally a functionaly and artful product has emerged." (Faber and Faber, $16 paper 272p ISBN 0-571-19991-7)