The Hudson River Valley: A History and Guide, by Tim Mulligan (Random House, $8.95), is considerably more than a travel guide and something less than a full history. Mostly, it is interesting and very well written -- an old-fashioned (in the best way) book concerned with inns and good restaurants. Math Without Tears, by Roy Hartkopf (G. K. Hall, $7.95), is designed to extract the stress from mathematics for those who aren't mathematicians. The concern is with principles, and the clarity with which difficult matters are limned is commendable, if not astonishing.
Good Morning, Merry Sunshine, by Bob Greene (Penguin, $5.95), chronicles Greene's first year as the father of Amanda. Greene, a nationally syndicated columnist, provides a very accurate and touching chart of what life is like for new fathers. No pretensions and a lot of honesty here.
In a Pig's Eye, by Karl Schwenke (Chelsea Green Publishing, $8.50), is a collection of 26 interconnected essays, and the topic is pigs. There are humor and generous slices of country life, not to mention lots of good writing; at times these essays seem more like short stories, and seldom are they anything but entertaining.
A Heaven in the Eye, by Clyde Rice (Avon, $7.95), originally published by Breitenbush Publications and winner of the 1984 Western States Award for creative nonfiction. This is an appealingly raw and vital autobiography. The teller is 81-year-old Rice, and his life appears to contain enough raw material for several movies. An immensely energetic book.
The Pleasures of Anthropology, edited by Morris Freilich (New American Library, $4.95), collects 27 essays by those who agree with Alexander Pope that ``the proper study of mankind is man.'' Victor W. Turner, Clifford Geertz, Mary Douglas, Raymond Firth, and Marshall D. Sahlins are some of those whose work provides a window on an underappreciated discipline.
Fortunate Son, by Dave Marsh (Random House, $9.95), contains 300-plus pages of exceptional writing on rock-and-roll. It starts with Mitch Ryder, moves to Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, Motown, Mick Jagger, The Band, John Lennon, Stevie Wonder -- why, there's even a piece on MTV. Most of this work originally appeared in Creem and Rolling Stone.
Slow Learner, by Thomas Pynchon (Bantam/Windstone, $3.95), contains five stories written between 1958 and '64, long before Pynchon wrote such comprehension-defying novels as ``V.'' and ``Gravity's Rainbow.'' The stories aren't bad, and the introduction is just wonderful: funny, personal, informative.
The Boy Scout Handbook and Other Observations, by Paul Fussell (Oxford University Press, $7.95), reveals an Orwellian critical mind at work. Fussell addresses such subjects as (social) class, Edgar Allan Poe, photography, war, censorship, and travel with intellect and wit -- and he fits everything into a larger context.
The Films in My Life, by Franois Truffaut (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, $9.95). Truffaut, director of ``The 400 Blows,'' ``Jules & Jim,'' ``Day for Night,'' and numerous other exceptional films, also wrote often and well about his medium. American, Japanese, New Wave, and other filmmakers are discussed with considerable insight.
Picasso (Beacon Press, $5.95) and Freshwater (Harvest/HBJ, $4.95), by Gertrude Stein. The former contains a biographical essay and two word portraits, in Stein's inimitable style, of the master Cubist; the latter, with illustrations by Edward Gorey, is Stein's only play, a comedy about her great-aunt, Julia Margaret Cameron.
Darkness Visible, by William Golding (Harvest/HBJ, $5.95). The title is out of Milton (``No light, but rather darkness visible''), and the novel is exceptional. Golding won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983 for work like this and ``The Spire,'' or the better-known ``Lord of the Flies.'' His prose is impeccable, his imagery powerful, his vision clear.
The Twilight Zone, edited by Martin Harry Greenberg, Richard Matheson, and Charles G. Waugh (Avon, $8.95). If you remember the TV show, you know that ``all you need to bring is your imagination'' to this anthology of 32 stories, from which episodes were developed by Rod Serling et al. Scary stuff.
Anastasia: The Riddle of Anna Anderson, by Peter Kurth (Little, Brown, $9.95), is an awfully strange story. Was Anna Anderson the daughter of Czar Nicholas? She knew she was, but few seemed to agree. Kurth has produced a perfect book for those who like to quicken rock-solid history with intriguing mystery.
Pitching, by Pat Jordan (Sports Illustrated/Harper & Row, $6.95). Are you having trouble with the mechanics of your delivery? Is your slider hanging? No movement on your fastball? Not setting up the hitters right? Then examine this book, which provides instruction on the basic repertoire of pitches, as well as conditioning and injuries.
James Kaufmann reviews books regularly for the Monitor.