BOOK: "Frommer's NYC Free & Dirt Cheap," by Ethan Wolff (Wiley, $15.99)
TARGET AUDIENCE: Those looking for a New Yorker's take on living well on the cheap.
QUICK TAKE: This irreverent insider's guide focuses on Manhattan and Brooklyn. Wolff's got the lock on $3.99 haircuts (American Barber Institute, 252 W. 29th St.), "ideal drunk food" like soba noodles at Otafuku (236 E. Ninth St.) and the free weekly tango session at Chelsea Market. Though this 301-page guidebook can get a little cutesy (chapter headers include "Theatah" and "Zoo York," and back-page author praise is attributed to his great-aunt), Wolff gets points for flagging overrated attractions in addition to no-cover music, readings and sample sales. He includes the obvious, like the TKTS theater ticket booths, as well as venues like Den of Cin (44 Ave. A) for "movieoke," where folks act out favorite scenes while the DVD plays behind them.
RANT: The 30-page "Living" chapter includes great info (the map of Manattan's giveaway/trash pickup days is perfect for furnishing those shoebox apartments), but except for hostel listings, it's more for the New York resident than the sightseer.
RAVE: Planners will appreciate the five full-day itineraries -- including how to get there, optimal times to visit and costs -- covering Coney Island, Brookyn Bridge to DUMBO, Union Square and Environs, Lower Manhattan and the U.N. to the Hudson.
-- Anne McDonough