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Snippets of wisdom from Martha's lips

If you dislike Martha Stewart, don't bother looking for new dirt in "The World According to Martha," edited by Bill Alder Jr. (McGraw-Hill, 2005). The book is a collection of sound bites that Martha said in public, on purpose. There is nothing new here to use against her.

On the other hand, if you find Martha at least occasionally inspirational, you may find new inspiration here. The book is divided into topics: on herself, on fans, on her critics, on customers, on being a perfectionist, on entertaining, on decorating, on holidays, on fashion, on food, on style, on weddings, on her business philosophy (possibly the most inspirational chapter), on branding, on the Internet, on Kmart, on her magazine, on fame, on home, on marriage, on pets (she adores her many pets), on family, on household chores, on some pet peeves, on the stock market, on the ImClone debacle, on serving time, on her deal with Sirius, on television and her TV show, and on other people. The last chapter offers "what other people say about Martha."

Except for the introduction, the book consists of short-to-medium quotes. It's the sort of book you put on the little shelf in the bathroom, or by the phone for when you are on hold - interesting enough to read in bits (if Martha does not annoy you) but nothing to engross you for a long period of time. Bill Alder, who is a New York literary agent in addition to being the editor of this book, has edited numerous quotation books, including "The Kennedy Wit" and "The Uncommon Wisdom of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis."

A few samples

"A lot of people don't see my sense of humor. Generally, I'm pretty straightforward on the television show because it's my teaching approach. But I have a very good sense of humor, (although) sometimes it's maybe too sophisticated for people. But I like poking fun at myself"(2002).

On customers: "What do they need and want? Those are our mantras" (2002). And, "I listen and I listen. … To me, the most important persons to listen to are my readers, my viewers, my listeners and my Internet users. I read every letter. I think about what they say, and I try to respond to them in a favorable way" (1999).

On entertaining, "When it comes to entertaining, the best room isn't in the house. It's outside" (1988).

On food: "…I had no problem cooking for large numbers because I came from a big family and was good at math. I just took my favorite recipes and multiplied them" (1989).

On style: "I see no division between the type of merchandise at a mass-market store and a department store. My table settings mix inexpensive things with my own family heirlooms and collectibles and things I get from the gardens and from nature" (1988). And: "With good posture, you will always look terrific. I take Polaroid pictures of them (friends) in their usual stance. When they see the photos, they straighten up" (1996).

On business: "What's the next thing? I really think it might be organizing the homemaker. I think every one of us needs to be better organized. We want to have more time" (2001).

More on business, my personal favorite quote: "Always evolve, don't try to drastically change your business" (2002).

"The World According to Martha" is available at Main Street Cafe & Books, 134 Main St.

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