By Edward Nawotka
Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) -- The ferociously sexy cover of ``Ferrari: The Road from Maranello'' by Dennis Adler (Random House, $45) is enough to make a grown man consider a mid-life crisis: a brilliant red Ferrari 250 GTO, the twin slashes in its flanks suggesting flight even at rest.
This beautifully illustrated history of the Italian automaker started by Enzo Ferrari in 1945 offers more than 350 archival photographs of the great Ferrari racers and road cars, as well as interviews with legendary designers, such as Sergio Pininfarina, and drivers, including Dan Gurney and Carroll Shelby.
``Luxury Private Islands'' edited by Vladi Private Islands (teNeues, $45). Who hasn't dreamed of escaping to a tropical paradise all your own? This dreamy book features more than 300 photos of some of world's most exclusive and expensive private properties, including Marlon Brando's South Pacific atoll, Sir Richard Branson's island in the British Virgin Islands and Mel Gibson's hideaway in Fiji.
``Destination Art'' by Amy Dempsey (University of California Press, $39.95). This new travel guide for the international art tourist surveys 200 modern and contemporary art destinations, offering a critique of the most important large-scale, public works of this and the last century, and covering a wide variety environmental pieces, sculpture parks, architecture and art towns.
``A Needle in the Right Hand of God: The Norman Conquest of 1066 and the Making and Meaning of the Bayeux Tapestry'' by R. Howard Block (Random House, $25.95). The head of Yale's humanities department recounts the story of the Battle of Hastings and the immense effort that went into embroidering it onto the Bayeux Tapestry, perhaps the most memorable 230 feet of fabric in the world.
``Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts'' by Alvin Townley (Thomas Dunne, $24.95). Townley considers how famous Eagle Scouts -- Microsoft founder Bill Gates, astronaut Jim Lovell and hotelier J.W. Marriott, among them -- have applied the Scouts' lessons of service, virtue and leadership in their professional and personal lives.
Townley interviews Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson as well as everyday citizens, among them a Vietnam War POW and a Hurricane Katrina relief worker. These are the true role models in an era when celebrity so often trumps heroism.
``The Art of Being a Woman: A Simple Guide to Everyday Love and Laughter'' by Veronique Vienne (Clarkson Potter, $18). Vienne, who wrote the bestseller ``The Art of Doing Nothing'' is yet another Frenchwoman who purports to know how American women can create more joie de vivre. She includes the predictable entreaties to accessorize wisely and not take men too seriously, but also tosses in some retro advice: Do housework in a nice dress and heels, and treat your home as if it were ``a lover.''
``Dave Barry's Money Secrets: Like: Why Is There a Giant Eyeball on the Dollar?'' by Dave Barry (Three Rivers, $24.95). This new collection of essays is an antidote to sanctimonious self-help guides and tries to answer age-old questions, such as ``Why it is not a good idea to use squirrels for money'' and ``Why good colleges cost so much, and how to make sure your child does not get into one.''
``The Zurau Aphorisms'' by Franz Kafka (Schocken, $15.95). These philosophical musings, recently rediscovered by the Italian scholar Roberto Calasso in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, were written while the enigmatic Czech author was suffering from tuberculosis. They provide unique insight into Kafka's beguiling writing -- work that he says is akin to shedding light ``on a rapidly fleeing grimace.''
``An Orgy of Playboy's Eldon Dedini'' by Eldon Dedini (Fantagraphics, $39.95). Eldon Dedini's colorful cartoons about the vagaries of sex and love were a staple of Playboy magazine from 1959 to 2005. This collection brings together 200 of Dedini's signature panels of men, women and satyrs. Risque, sexist and definitely politically incorrect, they are also frequently funny and have a sharp satirical bite.
``Sex, Lies and Handwriting: A Top Expert Reveals the Secrets Hidden in Your Handwriting'' by Michelle Dresbold (Free Press, $24). The author argues that penmanship is a window into the soul. Here she analyzes the writing of politicians, re- examines written evidence in a number of unsolved criminal cases, and offers tips on reading love letters to see what they might be revealing -- or hiding.