The Perfect Setting by Peri Wolfman and Charles Gold (Harry N. Abrams: $35, 207 pp, illustrated).

Not exactly a cookbook, although it does contain about 50 recipes, "The Perfect Setting" is a book that makes you want to pitch out all your china and linens and start from scratch. It's a book that will be right at home on a cocktail table, yet will provide plenty of wonderful ideas for making mealtime a beautiful visual experience.

The book offers creative suggestions for table settings and decorations for meals of all types, from patio dining and upscale picnicking to delicious-looking buffets. The recipes are uncomplicated, yet interesting. But they are really simply a nice adjunct to a beautiful book on table settings.

Wolfman, a graduate of the Parsons School of Design, and Gold, a commercial still-life photographer, have combined their respective talents ably in a book that activates the reader's own creative juices. If you're bored with the same look to your dining table day after day, "The Perfect Setting" is loaded with wonderful ideas that you can borrow with equanimity.

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