Joel Sternfeld's "Stranger Passing" (Bulfinch Press, $24.95): Sternfeld's fabulous collection of photographs is on display at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art until Oct. 2, and while I was lucky enough to catch the exhibit, this book showcases the pictures of the multi-faceted personalities in the United States for those unable to attend.
Each picture is a portrait with a twist -- everything from a high-tech worker in Redwood City, Calif., spending his lunch hour reading in the shade of an elm tree to a high-powered attorney lugging his laundry through the streets of Greenwich Village. The selections are doubly breathtaking for their simplicity and for the broad social and cultural implications of their subjects.
"The West Wing," NBC: Never one to follow trends, I avoided watching this show because of all of the good press it was receiving. But excellent reruns last summer caught my attention, and the end of last season finally reeled me in. Aaron Sorkin's intelligent writing and the multitalented cast up the ante of so-called "good" television on the major networks.
Take my advice: watch the repeat of last season's finale Wednesday -- a tour de force in which President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) reveals to the public that he has multiple sclerosis and grieves over the death of his secretary, Mrs. Landingham.
Allison Rost can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.