What to say when
Three new books focus on what people do and say in various situations.
Be Good: How to Navigate the Ethics of Everything (Chronicle) by Randy Cohen, who wrote the Ethicist column for the New York Times for 12 years, collects his advice about everything from transplanting shrubs from a foreclosed home next door to techno-tuning a student's voice on a college audition tape.
Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings (Simon & Schuster) by Craig Brown is a lively account of a daisy chain of meetings among the famous, including Elizabeth Taylor meeting James Dean, Groucho Marx meeting T.S. Eliot and Peggy Lee smooching Richard Nixon.
The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs (Yale University Press), compiled by Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder and Fred Shapiro, offers updated help for those at a loss for words, from "Act your age, not your IQ" to "Youth is wasted on the young."
Colette Bancroft, Times book editor