The Cynic's Lexicon, Jonathon Green (St. Martin's: $8.95). Ambrose Bierce's "The Devil's Dictionary" notwithstanding, collections of quotations are traditionally intended to inspire, which is probably why many feature quotes about cynicism (usually loaded with disapprobation), but not quotes that are cynical. A lexicon of cynicism, however, need not spell defeatism, as this collection demonstrates. Some inveterate cynics represented here do suggest "abandoning all hope"--from Bertolt Brecht and Oscar Wilde to Voltaire and, of course, Bierce, who defined a cynic as "a blackguard who sees things as they are, not as they ought to be." The majority of the quotes, however, are optimistic, indirectly offering inspiration, for instance, to scientists (Danish physicist Niels Bohr: "An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field") and to journalists (I. F. Stone: "Every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed"), and hopeful warnings to others (Aldous Huxley: "That men do not learn very much from history is the most important of all lessons that history has to teach").
Mindscapes: Psychological Mazes for Personality Insight, Pino Gilioli (Macmillan/Collier: $12.95). As identity crises have grown in the 20th Century, so too have psychological tests designed to tell us who we are. Yet while Carl Jung helped start the trend with his word association test in 1904, the development of new and more elaborate methods of personality and intelligence analysis has largely been spurred on by those outside the scientific community--the U.S. Army, for instance, uses tests similar to some of those collected here. It's not surprising, then, that this collection, intended to showcase the new sophistication of the tests, instead points to their underlying simplicity--despite new longer questionnaires, most of the tests peg-hole people into simple, overly pat categories--happy/sad, logical/emotional. In one of the exams, for instance, people favoring butterflies, horses, dogs and koalas are deemed "impulsive and often inconstant," while those choosing ants, camels, eagles and monkeys "have a thoughtful temperament" and are, as a result, "confident and calm." This breed of analysis is, of course, closer to astrology than to psychology, but like astrology, it is often fun, if not enlightening.