Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Gallic Tips, Art Thugs, Jefferson's Bubbly: Lifestyle Books

Gallic Tips, Art Thugs, Jefferson's Bubbly: Lifestyle Books

By Edward Nawotka

Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) -- In ``French Women for All Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes, and Pleasure'' (Knopf), Mireille Guiliano serves up a second helping of Gallic ``sagesse.''

The long-time executive at the luxury firm LVMH and public face of Champagne Veuve Clicquot expands on the ideas outlined in her surprise 2004 bestseller ``French Women Don't Get Fat,'' a philosophy that can be summarized as: embrace quality, shop according to the season, eat in moderation and feel free to indulge in a croissant, a little chocolate and a glass of wine whenever desired.

No, it may not be groundbreaking advice, but it's still news to many Americans that living ``comme les francaises'' is healthier and more satisfying than everyday supersizing.

Also new this month:

``The Power of Art'' by Simon Schama (Ecco). The cultural historian believes ``great art has dreadful manners'' and here meditates on the question of ``what's art really for.'' He critiques eight masterpieces, one each by an artist he dubs a ``thug,'' including Bernini, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, David, Turner, Van Gogh, Picasso and Rothko.

``Schott's Almanac 2007'' by Ben Schott (Bloomsbury). This quirky twist on the annual almanac, written by a British humorist known for his bestselling books of miscellany, covers such need- to-know cocktail party trivia as who won ``American Idol,'' the finalists for the Bad Sex in Fiction award and the number of reported shark attacks.

``The Smart Money: How the World's Best Sports Bettors Beat the Bookies Out of Millions: A Memoir'' by Michael Konik (Simon & Schuster). Konik recounts his harrowing experiences working for Rick ``Big Daddy'' Matthews, the mastermind behind ``The Brain Trust,'' the biggest sport-gambling syndicate in America, which routinely wagered huge sums of money on a single game and consistently beat the Vegas odds.

``Thomas Jefferson on Wine'' by John Hailman (The University Press of Mississippi). Hailman looks at the oenophile president through his lifelong passion for wine and offers a unique insight into his character, his effort to steer compatriots away from hard liquor and his savvy execution of ``Champagne diplomacy'' while hosting White House dinners.

``The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles'' by Martin Gayford (Little, Brown). A psychoanalytic portrait (by Bloomberg's London art critic) of the fertile period when the two artists shared a house in the south of France and painted the same subjects, ending with Van Gogh cutting off his ear and giving it to a prostitute.

``A Star Is Found: Our Adventures Casting Some of Hollywood's Biggest Movies'' by Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins. A dishy look into the lives of casting directors from two of the top star makers in the business, credited with discovering Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio and Meg Ryan, among many others.

``Monopoly: The World's Most Famous Game -- and How It Got That Way'' by Philip E. Orbanes (Da Capo). Monopoly started out as a teaching tool for economics class and now has sold more than 200 million copies. Orbanes outlines how this American game, inspired by J.P. Morgan, has had pervasive influence on our culture and the world's understanding of wealth creation.

``Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected and Health- Inspected Cartoons by Roz Chast, 1978-2006'' by Roz Chast (Bloomsbury). More than 400 pages of cartoons, many in color, from the New Yorker magazine mainstay whose anxiety-prone subjects are plagued by a catalog of modern neuroses.

``Dunhill by Design'' by Nick Foulkes (Flammarion). A GQ writer's beautifully illustrated history of Alfred Dunhill's influence on men's fashion, from 1890 to the present day, spans his early innovative products for Edwardian motorists, the move into specialized accessories such as watches and writing instruments, and the company's recent foray into leather goods and clothing.