Help Yourself

Friday, September 1st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Teens Can Make It Happen

Written by Stedman Graham (Fireside Books, $14 paperback)

Mr. Graham, perhaps still best known as Oprah Winfrey's partner despite his own success in marketing, has retooled his best seller, You Can Make It Happen as a success book for teens. He coaches young people in how to develop a vision of the future, build on their natural strengths rather than envying others' talents, and avoid fear and negative thinking. He suggests developing a love of learning as a way to stay on top of the waves of change, and urges a commitment to bettering communities and supporting the success of others. Self-help may seem like a long shot for hormone-edgy, peer-pressured kids who hardly know who they are yet. But it might be interesting to see how they respond to the workbook format and straightforward invocations of their own best interests.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens

Written by Richard Carlson, Ph.D. (Hyperion, $11.95 paperback)

Don't sweat the breakups, says Dr. Carlson, whose book is slicker than Mr. Graham's and twice as chicken soupy. Also: Make peace with your mistakes. Volunteer your time. Don't worry about the future. And be creative in your rebellion. Everything in these 100 little sermons is easier said than done, of course. But "as you learn to be more accepting of life and as little things don't get to you as much, you will get used to handling things in healthier, easier ways and with far less struggle."

The Medical Bill Survival Guide

Written by Pat Palmer with Martha Ellis and Christopher Slone (Warner Books, $7.99 paperback)

One hospital bills $444.78 for a drug while another bills $17.90 for the same drug, the authors say. What's a patient to do? Demand an itemized bill and be a pest until all your questions are answered. But with all those abbreviations and medical terms, and nothing to compare your bill with, is that really an option? The book's solution is to hire a service to do it for you. Author Palmer (can't tell if it's a he or she) is the founder of one such service, which makes the superficiality of this book extra annoying. It's as much an ad as an aid.

Puppies for Dummies

Written by Sarah Hodgson (IDG, $19.95 paperback)

Most of us dummies who muddled through DOS with the help of IDG have long forgotten the computer operating system's evil intricacies. But the publisher marches on, distilling everything from cooking to sex into easily digested nuggets. The format works nicely for dogs, too. A short course in the seven standard breed groups (plus rare breeds and mutts) helps puppy-hunters narrow their field of selection. A quiz about owner likes and lifestyles helps even more. (For $30, author Hodgson will evaluate your answer form and make suggestions. Or flip to the back for an order form that will get you her video and training tools). Do-it-yourselfers can use their quiz answers as a key to the book's later chapters, which walk you through bringing home a new dog, housebreaking, early and advanced training, dog health and fitness, and travel with dogs.

Mini Voodoo Kit

Written by Lou Harry (Running Press, $5.95 paperback)

A stand-up comic and author of The Voodoo Kit and The Office Voodoo Kit, Mr. Harry shrank everything (eek!) to fit in a box the size of a cigarette pack: a green cloth doll, a half dozen pins (three with white heads for good magic, three black for serious business) and a teensy instruction book. All you supply is something that belongs to your intended victim so the voodoo spirits will know who needs to be helped or punished.

'Help Yourself' is a survey of self-help, reference and how-to books by Mike Maza, an editor for The Dallas Morning News.