Gift books for candidates

You can't say our readers are not evenhanded. One would give Shakespeare's ''Comedy of Errors'' as a gift to Walter Mondale; another would give the same to Ronald Reagan. One would give Dickens's ''Hard Times'' to George Bush; another would give it to Mondale; and a third would give Studs Terkel's ''Hard Times'' to Geraldine Ferraro.

In case you came in late, we're talking about the response of well over a hundred of you to The Home Forum's invitation to help us prepare ''four clearly needed lists of gift books - one for each of America's major national candidates.'' Who, we asked, could not suggest ''some one appropriate book, old or new, that each candidate should read before it is too late - that is, in order to possess a rounded outlook on the next four years?'' Here are the results. Some are playful, even to the point of titles punning on our invitation; others offer serious advice or implied comment on the candidates. We hope you enjoy deciding which are which.

Thanks for all the suggestions, though we did omit some, including ones that were anonymous or evidently submitted by a member of the author's family. Sorry so many books were named that we do not have space to name the contributors. Many thanks to all.

In the separate lists, titles in capitals were cited more than once for the same candidate. The titles below were mentioned for all the candidates.

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