How to Play the Piano Despite Years of Lessons: What Music Is and How to Make It at Home, by Ward Cannel and Fred Marx (Doubleday, $6.95). This book will teach you how to play the piano the way millions of kids have taught themselves to play the guitar - a useful skill and not to be scorned - but it will help you little with Mozart sonatas and Chopin nocturnes. It also contains useful basic information on rhythms, chord structures and harmonic relationships and similar theoretical points.
Cornstalk Fiddle & Other Homemade Instruments, by Dallas Cline (Oak, 33 W. 60th St. NY, NY 10023, $2.95). Below the level of the stradivarius, many musical instruments capable of producing a tune can be made by people of ordinary skill. Rubber bands can be used as harp strings; a wooden cigar box can become a banjor, plastic water pipes are potential flutes and one wire, properly mounted on a piece of wood, makes a dulcimer. The percussion field is unlimited and perhaps best left unmentioned. Along with directions for making instruments, there are some tunes to play on them. Retiring
Everything You Should Know About Pension Plans, by Fay and Leo Young (Bethesda Books, P.O. Box 34567, Bethesda, Md. 20034, $4.95). Besides Social Security (but who can live on it?) and various corporate and governmental pension plans, there are two basic tax-protected plans available to large numbers of Americans: the Keogh Plan for the self-employed and the IRA (independent Retirement Account) for those who are not covered by a corporate pension plan. The complexities of these arrangements, of the various options involved and of the impact on tax payments are sufficient to make a clearly detailed book worth studying, and the Youngs have produced such a book, basing it on research originally done for a number of professional organizations in various technological fields. The book is logically arranged, well-indexed and liberally supplied with comparative tables, question-and-answer discussions and ingenious suggestions - for example, that a self-employed person with sufficiently high income might find it worthwhile to incorporate and start a corporate pension for himself rather than use the Keogh Plan. This book has an ambitious title but lives up to it. Judaica
The Second Jewish Catalog, compiled and edited by Sharon Strassfeld and Michael Strassfeld (Jewish Publication Society, $7.50). The Jewish Yellow Pages: A Directory of Goods & Services, by Mae Shafter Rockland with Michael Aaron Rockland (Schocken, $7.95). There is some overlap in the areas covered by these two books, but not enough duplication to discourage interested persons from wanting both. The Catalog , a cooperative project by many people associated with the havurah movement, is a very ambitious effort (though with a light touch in graphics and prose style) to encompass Judaism as a total way of life in its historic dimensions and modern ramifications; there are essays on choosing a rabbi and on the origins of the Bar Mitzvah, for example, as well as a discussion of diseases to which Jews are particularly susceptible, Jewish approaches to ethical questions, Judaica in philately and hundreds of other topics. There is also a 57-page, small-print "Jewish Yellow Pages" section which lists items as diverse as airlines to Israel, synagogues of the United States and Canada, charitable organizations and caterers. Rockland's Jewish Yellow Pages is more of a consumer's guide with emphasis on items useful or interesting to Jews, from menorahs to summer camps to kosher vitamins, written in a readable, conversational style and well illustrated. Marital
How to Get a Divorce: A Practical Handbook for Residents of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia Who Are Contemplating Separation and Divorce, by Sandra Kalenik and Jay S. Bernstein (Washingtonian, $4.95). It's easier than it used to be, particularly if both parties are willing. In some cases ("if you and your spouse have not been married very long, are amiable about the divorce, do not have much property, feel that you could divide your possessions yourself, do not have children") you may even be able to do it without a lawyer. But this book is not primarily a do-it-yourself treatise; in some cases, it points out, a lawyer is "absolutely necessary," and most of the time it is "best to check with a lawyer to make sure you have everything in order." With or without a lawyer, this guidebook will be handy; it tells you what to expect during the complex legal process, explains the grounds for divorce in various jurisdictions, defines relevant legal terms, discusses residency requirements, general ground rules for alimony, property settlements and custody of children, explains what actually happens in a divorce court and provides samples of standard legal forms used in divorce proceedings. Magnifique
Dictionary of Foreign Terms, by C.O. Sylvester Mawson; second edition, revised and updated by Charles Berlitz (Apollo, $4.95). For hoi polloi who wish to become cognoscenti , this handy little vade mecum may be a sine qua non. Literati may find much of it deja vu , but it has undeniably a je ne sais quoi.
Woman's Work Book: How to Get Your First Job . . . How to Reenter the Job Market . . . How to Fight for Your Rights in the Work World . . . and More, by Karin Abarbanel and Gonnie McClung Siegel (Warner, $2.50). Besides special information for women in a male-oriented world (which is handled with fine clarity and detail), this compendium has data on job-related skills useful to both sexes: how to prepare a resume, read between the lines in a help-wanted ad, choose a profession, adjust to a new job.
The 1977 Student Employment Directory (Shaker Prairie Publications, R.R. 1, Oaktown, Indiana, $4.95). A directory of summer employment opportunities, chiefly in parks, camps, resorts and summer theatres but also in the federal government, with lists of the types of work available and the qualifications required. Useful instructions are given on how to go about applying and where to send your applications.
Running Your Own Business: A Handbook of Facts and Information for the Small Businessman, by Howard H. Stern (Ward Ritchie, $4.95). Lucid, down-to-earth advice on everything from the qualities necessary in a manager's character to the intricate tasks of raising capital, controlling inventories, using computers, making and fulfilling contracts. Anyone who doesn't know what is in this book has no business being in business and soon will have no business.
How to Use Hand and Power Tools, by George Daniels (Popular Science/Harper & Row, $3.50). The text is often quite elementary ("Clamps are used to maintain an even and firm contact between surfaces being glued until the glue hardens.") but detailed and thorough - examining, for example, a dozen kinds of glue and half a dozen varieties of sandpaper as well as power drills and sanders, circular and sabre saws, routers, lathes and drill presses. The words-and-pictures combination makes it look easy enough even for a book critic to use these tools. Other titles in this series tell how to work with concrete and masonry, build your own furniture or log cabin, make a patio, landscape a lawn and handle problems in your plumbing and air conditioning. Recreational
Spots, edited by Paula W. Heltzer and Ferne P. Levine (Penfer, P.O. Box 1122, Rockville, Md. 20850, $2.50). This book has entries on the zoo and other parks, restaurants, museums, monuments and other attractions, but its greatest service is the large section devoted to seating plans of theatres, stadiums and concert halls in the Washington area. Beastly
Great Pets! An Extraordinary Guide to Usual and Unusual Family Pets, by Sara Stein (Workman, $5.95). A tarantula, the author notes, is a useful pet "in that it keeps unwanted guests away." Other pets have other virtues; snakes need to be fed only once a week and chickens and goats provide nourishment for their owners; you don't need to worry about a turtle's sex because they don't breed indoors. There are useful hints on health, feeding and housing for a bewildering variety of pets.