Saturday, October 27, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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New Books | "Wake Up and Smell the Planet"

"Wake Up and Smell the Planet: The Non-Pompous, Non-Preachy Grist Guide to Greening Your Day"

edited by Brangien Davis with Katharine Wroth

Skipstone, $14.95

This is our kind of book. It's small and nonthreatening. Plus, there's a guy in his undies on the cover.

What? You need more?

Well ... as it turns out, the guide's actual guidance is relevant, hip and chockfull of witty word play (which we newspaper types especially dig).

We also dig a simple premise. In this case: How does a "green" wannabe make the eco-friendliest choices throughout a typical day, from shower vs. bath to cremation vs. burial? (OK, maybe that's not a typical nighttime concern, but try thinking of it metaphorically.)

Using reader input from Seattle-based, the eco-site's editors have pulled together a groovy green heap o' advice for working, working out, eating, shopping, commuting, raising kids, raising pets — basically, for life.

There are no fancy four-color photo spreads (though there is a special "Consumption Centerfold"), but funky orange accents and fun sidebars add dimension — and even more attitude — to the clever text.

Some of the topics will be familiar (compost=good); some maybe not so (PVC in sex toys?). Which reminds us: Even green people swear.

Yep, it's a grown-up book. And we grown-ups could learn a lot from it.

"The Artful Home: Using Art & Craft to Create Living Spaces You'll Love"

by Toni Sikes

Lark Books, $24.95

Even if you don't live in a tent, your home is your canvas. Think like an artist, then, and your home could become a Monet masterpiece. Or, in our case, Jackson Pollack on a really bad day.

The idea of the artful home, Toni Sikes says, is not to mimic a museum, but to create a space filled with "objects of our lives" — beautiful things that matter to us and reflect who we are. Other than cats.

Sikes suggests we use the basic concepts of interior design — color, composition, form, texture, pattern and materials — to transform our homes.

Then, after a primer on those and a guide to figuring out just what our own style is, she shows us oodles of examples ... of someone else's style.

We get lots of specifics, including small, focused "vignettes" (a grouped chair, painting and rug, for example); display spaces (delicate glass in windowsills); and advice on arranging artwork, styling floors and walls, and using neutral colors, then a room-by-room tour of artfulness in action.

We also get to admire lots of Seattle art among the pages — from Larry Halvorsen Ceramics and Cypiot Designs, for example — which is especially encouraging if you actually need to buy some beautiful objects before you can display them.

It's a very pretty book, and the entries from her personal art journal are a nice touch, but much of the advice seems familiar. But then, art sometimes does that.

Sandy Dunham,Seattle Times desk editor

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company


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