How to Teach Your Dog to Talk,

by Captain Haggerty (Fireside, $13).

Synopsis: Your dog can learn to make sounds that approximate English words, as well as perform a variety of other tasks, such as fetching Kleenex or a ringing cell phone. The author, retired from the U.S. Army K-9 Corps, suggests you consider what you would eventually like your dog to say when picking

your breed.

Representative quote: “A slightly undershot bite, as found in Affenpinschers, Boxers and Brussels Griffons, is great for the difficult to duplicate ‘f’ sound.”

Noteworthy flaw: No explanation given as to what happened to the author’s first name.

Bacchus & Me: Adventures in the Wine Cellar, by Jay McInerney (Lyons Press, $24.95).

Synopsis: The best-selling New York novelist finds fresh material in his deep affection

for wine, yielding a book its publisher claims is at least partially intended for readers of “modest purse.”

Representative quote: “Like a head banger discussing Nirvana after Nevermind, I was one of those reverse snobs about [Dom Perignon]. The ’88 vintage, which was a little tough for my taste, tended to confirm my skepticism when it was first released. But the sensational ’90 vintage–and a tasting of mature vintages dating back to ’75–has made a new believer out of me.”

Noteworthy flaw: “I’ve had daydreams about accepting the Nobel prize for literature since I was seventeen.”

Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color that Changed the World, by Simon Garfield (Norton, $23.95).

Synopsis: The latest entry in the duplicate-the-success-of-Dava-Sobel’s-Longitude-by-disinterring-an-obscure-bit-of-history competition chronicles the story of English chemist William Perkin, who invented the first synthetic dye.

Representative quote: “In this way he solved some of the last remaining dilemmas surrounding mauve–how best to apply it to calico and paper. He established new fixatives that would benefit the entire industry.”

Noteworthy flaw: Some of the dye’s applications are more disgusting than others: “‘In eating the luscious frankfurter, your soul rejoices to see the sanguineous liquid oozing from the meat–alas, coal-tar colours have done it.'”