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Crystal Ball Gazing: The Complete Guide to Choosing and Reading Your Crystal Ball, by Uma Silbey (Fireside, $11).

Synopsis:

You can access your inner soul, the future, the mysteries of the universe, and more by gazing into a crystal ball. Select that ball with care. Not thinking helps.

Representative quote: "You must allow total freedom for whatever is coming through to come through....Swim with the current, not against it. Analyzing it will create a dam that diverts the flow."

Noteworthy flaw: Implies writing is easy. "Creativity is like an unending river of energy that you can tap into for never-ending insight and vision. This is an energy that is already in existence, not something that we make happen in some way."

Bittersweet Journey: A Modestly Erotic Novel of Love, Longing, and Chocolate, by Enid Futterman (Viking, $22.95).

Synopsis: Charlotte leaves her husband and travels through Europe for a year eating chocolate and humping passersby. Illustrated by many color photographs of chocolate.

Representative quote: "He shrugged, and in the curtain of silence that surrounded them, reached across the table for her fork, and a bite of her torte, without taking his eyes from hers....'I will feed you chocolate,' he said."

Noteworthy flaw: She returns to her husband in the end, and he takes her back.

Just Checking: Scenes from the Life of an Obsessive-Compulsive, by Emily Colas (Pocket Books, $22).

Synopsis:

The author rambles through her disturbed, phobia-ridden life. Afraid that people are poisoning her in restaurants, she makes her husband taste her food.

Representative quote: "Do you ever feel like your tongue is too big for your mouth? I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep when I started to think my tongue didn't quite fit anymore. Once I started focusing on this, it was all I could think about."

Noteworthy flaw: Too bad obsession with order was medicated away before creation of disorganized, desultory book.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): book covers.

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