How to Read and Why

By Harold Bloom (Touchstone, $15)

With Bloom's bulky new book "Genius" (his picks of the world's 100 most exceptional literary minds) hitting bookstores, many people are dipping into this earlier work. Bloom offers ruminations on the value of reading, as well as advice on what books are worth reading. He tilts toward the Western tradition -- often in controversial ways. (NF)

Morality for Beautiful Girls

By Alexander McCall Smith (Anchor, $12.95)

As Botswana's only private detective, Precious Ramotswe has found plenty to keep her occupied, as McCall Smith has colorfully related in two previous novels. In this third volume of the series, Precious faces a trio of quandaries: the poisoning of a government official's brother; the questionable virtue of four finalists in a beauty pageant; and the erratic behavior of her fiance{acute}, who may have business problems. (F)

Seven Ages of Paris

By Alistair Horne (Knopf, $35)

The prolific journalist and historian Alistair Horne has a particular fondness for the City of Lights, which has only deepened as he researched his earlier works of history. With passion and verve, he takes us on a panoramic tour of the French capital's evolution, from the 13th-century Capetian king Philippe Auguste through Henri IV, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Baron Haussmann, the Belle E{acute}poque and the post-WWII years. (NF)

The bestseller lists this week are culled from information submitted by Barnes & Noble, Borders and Olsson's based on sales from 11/18-11/24. The "Washington Is Also Reading" list is based on reports from Chapters, Reprint Book Shop and Vertigo. The Book World bestsellers hotline is 202-334-9000, category code 4175. (12/08/02)