LIFE, A USER'S MANUAL , by Georges Perec. A major French novel of astounding invention, wit and intricacy, built around the inhabitants of a Paris rooming house. (Book World, December 20)

THE SIXTIES: Years of Hope, Days of Rage , by Todd Gitlin. Once upon a time in America. (Book World, December 20)

AN AFFAIR OF STATE: The Profumo Case and the Framing of Stephen Ward , by Phillip Knightley and Caroline Kennedy. A delicious case of scandal, with a bitter aftertaste. (Book World, December 20)

CHAUCER: His Life, His Works, His World , by Donald R. Howard. A scholarly, yet exceptionally lively, biography of the first major English poet. (Book World, December 13)

THE GOATS , by Brock Cole. Marooned on an island, naked, a 13-year-old boy and girl survive, learn to rely on each other, and triumph over summer camp pranksters and the world of adults. (Book World, December 13)

ROSE THEATRE , by Gilbert Sorrentino. Bitingly funny, esoteric, demanding, in this novel about failed and phony artists Sorrentino mocks and surpasses the conventions of fiction. (Book World, December 13)

THE ABILITY TO KILL: True Tales of Bloody Murder , by Eric Ambler. The cre`me de la crime. (Daily Book World, December 7)

MANY MASKS: A Life of Frank Lloyd Wright , by Brendan Gill. A biography of the egomaniacal but brilliant architect. (Book World, November 22)

MUSICAL EVENTS: A Chronicle, 1980-1983 , by Andrew Porter. The New Yorker's music critic on opera, contemporary music and much else. (Book World, November 22)

THE LIFE OF KENNETH TYNAN , by Kathleen Tynan. Flamboyant, witty and theatrical to the bone, Tynan found all the world a stage. (Book World, November 15) SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL , by Kent Anderson. During the Vietnam War a three-member special forces team learns to love battle. A lot. (Book World, October 18)

A FATAL INVERSION , by Barbara Vine. A psychological suspense novel, about an old crime uncovered. The author, no secret, is really the redoubtable Ruth Rendell. (Book World, October 18)

SETTING LIMITS: Medical Goals in an Aging Society , by Daniel Callahan. In this exemplary study Callahan discusses how society should care for the elderly and the function of the aged as "moral conservators." (Book World, October 11)

DOLLARS AND DREAMS: The Changing American Income Distribution , by Frank Levy. Notable for its good prose as well as its keen economic analysis, this book looks at the bottom line of the American dream -- how much we earn and how much the money buys. (Book World, October 11)

IMAGINING ARGENTINA , by Lawrence Thornton. Drawing on the techniques of magic realism, this novel focuses on a man whose visions can affect reality, and who uses his gifts to help the disappeared prisoners of Argentina. (Book World, October 11)

JULIA PARADISE , by Rod Jones. A stunning first novel set in pre-revolutionary China, about Freud, colonialism, Marxism, the condition of women and much else. (Book World, September 27)

SHERWOOD ANDERSON , by Kim Townsend. A superb biography of the once famous, now rather forgotten, creator of Winesburg, Ohio. (Book World, September 27)