What To Do When You're Dating a Jew: Everything You Need to Know from Matzah Balls to Marriage, by Vikki Weiss and Jennifer A. Block (Three River Press, $12).
Synopsis: Most Jews marry outside the faith, so their spouses and love mates need a quick guide to the rituals of Judaism to help them fake their way through an approximation of Jewish life.
Representative quote: "Much to their displeasure, from the ages of six through sixteen, Jewish kids from observant families spend a weekend morning in religious schools....Any disdain kids might have for religious school pales in comparison to how they feel about Hebrew school.''
Noteworthy flaw: In addition to misspelling "matzo'' in the title, the book assumes that a Jew dating a gentile cares whether his or her mate has any grasp of the religion or that their children are raised in anything other than a vague pantomime of Judaism.
On God and Dogs: A Christian Theology of Compassion for Animals, by Stephen H. Webb (Oxford University Press, $29.95).
Synopsis: A theologian explores the spiritual lives of animals, particularly dogs, examining such issues as whether they have souls, pray, go to heaven, or realize where they are when they get there.
Representative quote: "A more important difficulty is that many animals, those who lack self-consciousness and live through a mere succession of sensations, would not recognize themselves in the afterlife, so it would have no meaning for them or their pain.''
Noteworthy flaw: Argues Christ's return will eliminate wild animals: "When God redeems the world with a final reconciliation, if animals are part of such a reconfiguration, it seems warranted to imagine their participation in that world more along the lines of domesticated pets than wild beasts. After all, Isaiah envisions the lion as lying down with the lamb."
Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism, by Steven Connor (Oxford University Press, $30).
Synopsis: The history of throwing one's voice, going back to the Delphic oracle, is run through the grinder of current academic analysis.
Representative quote: "This power to enlarge and exceed the visible theatrical scene substantiated and fuelled a more generalized fantasy about the power of ventriloquists to control and animate any space at all, and to theatricalize any and every social encounter into a ventriloquial 'scene.'"
Noteworthy flaw: Overlooks that guy on Soap.