1. UNLIMITED ACCESS, by Gary Aldrich, Regnery, $24.95
From Inauguration Day onward, FBI agent Gary Aldrich was appalled by the Clinton staff. Charged with performing security checks on all White House employees, he was privy to much personal information. Clearly some of Aldrich's disgust stems from the generation gap: men with long hair and pierced ears, women with shorter skirts, widespread drug use and coarse language, sex between staffers in White House offices all differ sharply from previous administrations. By Abraham McLaughlin.
2. THE ZONE by Barry Sears, HarperCollins, $22
This book purports to counteract the genetic programming of disease, excessive weight, loss of mental proficiency and physical performance through diet. The author develops a theory of "food as drug" that promises optimal health when eating the right foods in the right proportions. Contains minute technical details of disease, case studies, and a road map for achieving life in the "Zone," a state of being suggesting the perfect union of body and mind. By Jim Bencivenga.
3. THE DILBERT PRINCIPLE, by Scott Adams, HarperBusiness, $20
The most ineffective workers are moved to the place where they can do the least damage: management. Adams illustrates this, the Dilbert Principle, with classic Dilbert cartoons (some repeated a few times) and e-mail messages from exasperated employees who will make you grateful you don't work for their company. (Or you can have fun picking out your employer from the parade of corporate nightmares.) A fun read, but Adams's mocking humor still zings best through his cartoons. By Yvonne Zipp.
4. MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS, by John Gray, HarperCollins, $20
Written more for the female audience, this easy-to-read guide helps men and women better understand how the other sex communicates. Although redundant and sometimes stereotypical, it goes beyond psychobabble. Gray, who has written an assortment of books on this topic, explores such issues as the difference between a man's silence and a woman's, why men and women resist the other sex's solutions, and how a man reacts when a woman needs to talk. By Shelley Donald Coolidge.
5. OUTRAGE, by Vincent Bugliosi, W.W. Norton, $25
Bugliosi, former L.A. County deputy district attorney, who prosecuted Charles Manson, among others, makes two assertions: O.J. Simpson is beyond-the-shadow-of-a-doubt guilty of killing his ex-wife and her friend; and that everyone involved in the "trial of the century" - from the media to the "Dream team" of defense lawyers, and especially the prosecution - were totally incompetent. The obnoxiousness of Bugliosi's egotistical tone is offset by the strength of his arguments. By Abraham McLaughlin.
6. BAD AS I WANNA BE, by Dennis Rodman, Delacorte, $22.95
The book is Rodman, the Chicago Bulls robo-rebounder, raw. Beyond his crude language and stadium-sized chip on his shoulder, Rodman spouts a few brilliant insights on the NBA, the game, and himself. As his skills attest, he is an expert on what he does. But his argument that teams should focus on fundamental basketball instead of the 1990s-style light-and-sound shows comes across as a bit hypocritical: The painted and pierced warrior himself has become a walking side show. By Faye Bowers.
7. SIMPLE ABUNDANCE, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, Warner, $17.95
A spiritual self-help book for the "modern woman," a how-to book that offers to overcome stress and assist in self-discovery with topical readings on gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty, and joy. There is a reading for each day of the calendar year. Like modern gold-mining - 30 tons of shoveled dirt to find one ounce of gold - there are pages of platitudes before hitting an original insight. The author's appearance on Oprah Winfrey show catapulted this book onto bestseller lists. By Jim Bencivenga.
8. EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE, by Daniel Goleman, Bantam, $23.95
Goleman asserts that IQ is not destiny; emotional intelligence, the ability to be cool in a bind and make clear decisions, is equally important in a good life. The theories about brain architecture are less interesting than examples of emotional control that establishes solid relationships and cooperation among people. He says those lacking self-control are morally deficient and conclusions of scientists do not limit one's prospects for success, no matter how troubled one's childhood. By David Holmstrom.
9. THE CHOICE, by Bob Woodward, Simon & Schuster, $26
This book moves us from the familiar post-campaign genre to a mid-campaign tell-all. A classic Woodward reporting job, with lots of detail gleaned from interviews, especially with campaign insiders who apparently can't keep quiet. Woodward addresses an important part of the story of the 1996 presidential campaign thus far - Bill Clinton's $15 million 1995 ad campaign and Bob Dole's inability to focus on a message - but it's not the whole story. Lots of foul language. By Lawrence J. Goodrich.
10. MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL, by John Berendt, Random House, $23
This zany portrait of Savannah, Ga., sings with wonderfully original characters. It tells the universal tale of small-town life in which neighborly rivalries and gossip are residents' pastimes. But Savannah's characters are even more outrageous - sometimes more sensuous - than those of most small towns: from a good natured con-man who invites the town to raucous parties in other peoples' houses to "The Lady Chablis" - a drag queen who crashes debutant balls. By Abraham McLaughlin.
11. UNDAUNTED COURAGE, by Stephen E. Ambrose, Simon & Schuster, $30
Lewis and Clark. Stephen Ambrose tells the story with a zest for detail, and a feel for the humanity of Meriwether Lewis and his patron, Thomas Jefferson, that make the history sing and sigh, groan and breathe. If you think you already know the tale, think again. If you've heard about it but never read much about it, here's the chance to go along on an epic journey that helped mold not only the new nation, but the American character itself, with its manifest strengths and frailties. By Keith Henderson.
12. PARTNERS IN POWER, by Roger Morris, Henry Holt, $$27.50
If you're tired of the president and first lady getting bashed by Republicans, here is a hatchet job from the left that makes Sen. Alfonse D'Amato look like the Clintons' best friend. Morris combines an extreme-left characterization of the American political system with gossipy allegations and unsupported innuendo to accuse the first couple of far more serious crimes than Whitewater. It's hard to give the new charges of drug use and other criminal behavior much credence. By Lawrence J. Goodrich.
13. THE SEVEN SPIRITUAL LAWS OF SUCCESS, by Deepak Chopra, New World Library, $12.95
Chopra draws points from Eastern philosophies and practices such as Taoism, Vedic Science, meditation, and karma and distills them into a new-age seven-step program. The logic is at times circular and simplistic, and Chopra's attempts to incorporate The Bible and Christian tradition into his text are uneven at best. Nonetheless, while not original, many of the espoused ideas - prayer, generosity, and a nonjudgmental and positive outlook - certainly have merit. By Yvonne Zipp.
14. IN CONTEMPT, by Christopher A. Darden, Regan, $26
Tell-all books about the O.J. Simpson trial are as plentiful these days as spring buds. But this effort by prosecutor Chris Darden rises above the rest. Darden's direct style, and his willingness to confront the racism shown by both blacks and whites in this case, make for compelling reading. Particularly interesting are Darden's views about the way the media coverage affected the trial, and how Johnnie Cochran manipulated racial tension to his client's advantage. Some vulgar language. By Tom Regan.
15. THE 5-DAY MIRACLE DIET, by Adele Puhn, Ballantine, $22
This plan relies on a regimented eating plan that eliminates most sugar and carbohydrates in order to accomplish permanent weight loss and end food cravings. The author also examines psychological factors and exercise habits related to weight. Her advice about eating healthy while enjoying a few treats is useful. But the plan's guarantee to kick-start a whole new life in five days requires a degree of regimentation that should be taken with a grain of salt. By Terri Theiss.
*Bestseller ranking from Publishers Weekly, July 29, 1996
THE MONITOR'S PICK
NEWS VALUES: IDEAS FOR AN INFORMATION AGE, by Jack Fuller, University of Chicago Press, 251 pp., $22.95
Jack Fuller started beating the streets for news as a police reporter when he was still a teenager. His moral and intellectual education started then. His book, "News Values," has the touch and feel of knowledgeable, authentic caring about the kind of journalism that can help make society more cohesive, even humane.
In fact, the publisher and editor of one of the nation's top newspapers (the Chicago Tribune) now tells us, in his more mature years, that the Golden Rule is "a useful way to look at the requirement of intellectual honesty" in journalism.
Fuller touches expertly on most of the basics in modern journalism - what is news, accuracy, objectivity, bias, the "observer theory" (the belief that there is absolute independence between the observer and the observed), the problem of authority, the adversarial approach, and fairness.
He steps directly into the important area of how the news can help keep the wider community healthy. Here's where a good journalist, enriched with enough experience, breadth of outlook, intellectual power, and depth of reading can offer insights more effectively than most others. He leads convincingly to the conclusion that the basis of free expression and a cohesive society is truth-telling, with all the risks, labor, and resistance that truth-telling so frequently encounters.
It is as fundamental as how much the printed word is needed to preserve self-government.