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The Skinny By Elaine Langlois


The summer movie blockbusters are winding down; the fall TV lineup hasn't started. What's a happy woman to do to pass the time between work, prettifying, and men? Just kick off your heels, settle in your lawn chair with a frosty pitcher of margaritas and an SPF 15+ sunscreen, and check out these scintillating must-reads for fall!

The Book of Nosebleeds

By Vespasia Spivey

In this slim little volume, Vespasia Spivey packs a wealth of information on a poorly understood condition. Spivey dispels the myths surrounding the causes of nosebleeds (chickens, voodoo, a poor moral character) and lists the true causes of epistaxis (picking, getting punched in the nose, evil spirits). A handy pullout guide offers step-by-step instructions on popular treatments (pinching your nose, pinching someone else's nose) and effective alternative therapies (corks, vises, leeches).

Spivey concludes with a fascinating glimpse into famous noses (Cyrano de Bergerac, Pinocchio, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) and historical what-ifs. Did Elvis really die of a nosebleed? Was it chronic nosebleeds, and not her failure to produce a male heir, that sent Anne Boleyn to the chopping block?

Nights in White Satin: Folding Sheets and Other Domestic Adventures

By Maisey Kerfuffle

In this down-to-earth, yet philosophical addition to the "year-of" genre, Maisey Kerfuffle chronicles a year in her life as domestic goddess. Follow Maisey on her daily ritual of working like a galley slave to complete the meanest household chores while maintaining a cheery outlook and a drop-dead gorgeous figure. From making beds to cooking wholesome meals to waxing her kitchen appliances to the mysteries of folding fitted sheets, Maisey tells it all. Readers look on raptly as Maisey solves her clutter dilemmas, ponders life's meaning while ironing and watching daytime drama, and spring-cleans her fabulous makeup collection.

Pretzels and Clouds-Defining Their Inner Meaning

By Malva Malinga

The author examines the lifelong question of what the different shapes of broken pretzels and cirrus, stratus, and cumulus clouds portend. From the pretzel pince-nez we've all perched on our noses to the funnel cloud that left her with three broken limbs and a lacerated filtrum, Malinga deciphers it for us. Includes engaging detours into alphabet soup; Ouija boards; what it means when you get the black potato chip; and edible fashion advice (wearing Bugles as false fingernails).

Sojourns at Starbucks: Snooping in on Other People's Private Conversations

By Cotillion Carruthers

Fueled by DoubleShots™ and Espresso Macchiatos ("Espresso gently marked with foam"), the author takes us on a gleefully malicious tour of upscale coffee-shop chat. Includes dog fashions, laments on ugly flatware in restaurants, heated arguments over panini presses and what to put in perennial beds, man-snagging, how much to abase yourself to land a powerful client, and plenty of braggadocio.

Carruthers also provides a discerning evaluation of Starbucks coffees, from Arabian Mocha Java to Yukon Blend (her favorites are New Guinea Peaberry and Ethiopia Yergacheffe). She is currently undergoing rehabilitative treatment at the Greenspruce Center for Caffeine Withdrawal in Montreal, paid for through stock trading tips she picked up from overheard cell-phone exchanges.

Extreme Health Consumers

By Holly Buff

Follow the amazing feats and spectacularly ridiculous deaths of those who risk it all in pursuit of better health. The testosterone diet, which has 35 suddenly hirsute men carrying off women, swinging from cell-phone towers, and raiding the meat lockers at groceries. Read grotesque tales of vitamin mega-overdosers, with their veiny, bulging biceps, compound eyes, prehensile tails, and extra sets of legs (should they be allowed to compete in this year's Olympics?). Meet pleather-skinned, crispy-fried women who've indulged their tanning-booth addictions to the max. Worst of all: the Extreme Makeover honeymoon that went horribly awry.

Cooking with Nettles

By Gerta Mandrake

Stinging nettles have taught many of us a vital lesson about nature-that it is a good thing to stay out of. Published in conjunction with Be Nice to Nettles Week in the UK, this book offers 100 eye-watering recipes for a much-maligned weed, including nettle bruschetta, nettle bisque, nettle-encrusted tuna with thinly julienned beets, Nettles Tatooine, nettle mousse, and nettle clusters.

Nettles are in fact extremely nutritious, a good source of calcium and magnesium that takes fiber to a whole new level. Excellent for nursing mothers since they cause increased milk production in cattle. Fed to horses to produce a sleek coat, nettles should be part of every woman's beauty regimen for smooth, luxurious skin. A nettle power bar, munched before an outdoors event, is better than bug spray at warding off flies.

For the more daring gourmand, Ms. Mandrake offers a special set of recipes cooked with a species of nettle from Timor that causes a burning sensation and lockjaw-like symptoms that may last weeks.* Her next two volumes: Cooking with Poison Ivy and Poison Oak and Cooking with the Portuguese Man-of-War.

© 2004 Elaine Langlois

*Nettle facts from http://www.nettles.org.uk/nettles/lore.asp.

NEXT MONTH IN "THE SKINNY:" Fall fashion outlook