AT MY FIRST JOB, one underworked reporter used to leave ''while you were out'' message slips on co-workers' chairs, telling them to ''call Mr. Lyon.'' When they dialed the number given, they would find that they'd telephoned the city zoo. Big yucks.

A bit of Scott Adams' The Joy of Work, No. 15 on this month's hardcover list, is given over to such sophomoric pranks, most E-mailed by Adams' fans. Maybe that's to be expected when the book's subtitle is Dilbert's Guide to Finding Happiness at the Expense of Your Co-workers.

But don't despair. Adams hasn't given up entirely on striking back against downsizing-minded, management-fad-addicted execs. Sections on ''Managing Your Boss'' and ''Reverse Telecommuting'' (i.e., bringing your personal work to the office) are as fresh as those of the first Dilbert management tome, The Dilbert Principle. Particularly handy are Adams' tips for ''multishirking''--doing two nonwork-related activities simultaneously to give the impression that you're slaving away.

Near the book's end, Adams offers a fascinating ''framework for creating humor.'' In essence, he says, all humor combines at least two of the following six factors: cuteness, meanness, bizarreness, recognizability, naughtiness, and cleverness. He then supplies several Dilbert strips to illustrate how these combinations provoke laughter. It's cute and clever--just ask Mr. Lyon.


1 THE 9 STEPS TO FINANCIAL FREEDOM by Suze Orman (Crown $23) Practical and ''spiritual'' steps for managing money.

2 THE ROARING 2000s by Harry S. Dent Jr. (Simon & Schuster $25) Forget the Dow--good times won't go away.

3 THE ELECTRONIC DAY TRADER by Marc Friedfertig and George West (McGraw-Hill $34.95) Hopping in and out of the market electronically.

4 THE MILLIONAIRE NEXT DOOR by Thomas J. Stanley, PhD, and William D. Danko, PhD (Longstreet Press $22) The penny-pinchers shall inherit the earth.

5 TITAN by Ron Chernow (Random House $30) John D. Rockefeller Sr., the devil and angel.

6 JACK WELCH AND THE GE WAY by Robert Slater (McGraw-Hill $24.95) Managing General Electric's ''boundaryless organization.''

7 WINNING EVERY DAY by Lou Holtz (HarperBusiness $25) Follow your dream, says Notre Dame's ex-coach.

8 WORK IN PROGRESS by Michael Eisner with Tony Schwartz (Random House $27.95) Disney's chief reflects on work, life, and mortality.

9 SELLING THE INVISIBLE by Harry Beckwith (Warner $16) A collection of bite-size lessons on marketing.

10 WINNING WITH INTEGRITY by Leigh Steinberg with Michael D'Orso (Villard $24.95) A sports agent's tips on negotiations.

11 THE MICROSOFT FILE by Wendy Goldman Rohm (Times Business $25.95) Did Gates & Co. engage in predatory business practices?

12 THE 48 LAWS OF POWER by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers (Viking $24.95) Thoughts of Machiavelli, Talleyrand, and other power brokers distilled.

13 RAVING FANS by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles (Morrow $20) Turning customers into your biggest boosters.

14 UNLEASHING THE KILLER APP by Larry Downes and Chunka Mui (Harvard Business School $24.95) How to ''achieve escape velocity from your current paradigm.''

15 THE JOY OF WORK by Scott Adams (HarperBusiness $22) Office pranks and ploys to fend off the cubicle blues.


1 THE MILLIONAIRE NEXT DOOR by Thomas J. Stanley, PhD, and William D. Danko, PhD (Pocket Books $14) The simple ways of the wealthy among us.

2 THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE by Stephen R. Covey (Fireside $14) Habitually popular.

3 THE MOTLEY FOOL INVESTMENT GUIDE by David and Tom Gardner (Fireside $12) The online duo puts it on paper.

4 THE 1998 WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE? by Richard Nelson Bolles (Ten Speed Press $16.95) The enduring job-search bible.

5 GETTING TO YES by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton (Penguin $12.95) A Harvard team's step-by-step guide to conflict resolution.

6 AGAINST THE GODS by Peter L. Bernstein (Wiley $14.95) Risk management in the making of the modern world.

7 THE WALL STREET JOURNAL GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING MONEY AND INVESTING by Kenneth M. Morris and Alan M. Siegel (Fireside $14.95) Concise explanations enriched with graphics.

8 BUILT TO LAST by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras (HarperBusiness $15) How 3M, Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble, and others became standouts.

9 YOU'VE EARNED IT, DON'T LOSE IT by Suze Orman with Linda Mead (Newmarket Press $15) Financial planning--and mistakes to avoid.

10 YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin (Penguin $12.95) To achieve financial independence, restructure your life.

11 YOUR FIRST YEAR IN NETWORK MARKETING by Mark Yarnell and Rene Reid Yarnell (Prima $15) How to survive the first few months as a multilevel marketer.

12 1001 WAYS TO REWARD EMPLOYEES by Bob Nelson (Workman $10.95) Give them a champagne brunch, a casual-dress day--or plain old cash.

13 HOME BUYING FOR DUMMIES by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown (IDG Books $16.99) Getting your dream house.

14 THE GOAL by Eliyahu M. Goldratt (North River Press $19.95) Bringing company strategies in line with your No. 1 purpose: making money.

15 INVESTING FOR DUMMIES by Eric Tyson, MBA (IDG Books $19.99) From stocks to small business--with cartoons, too.

BUSINESS WEEK's Best-Seller List is based on a survey of chain and independent booksellers that carry a broad selection of books on economics, management, sales and marketing, small business, investing, personal finance, and careers. Well over 1,000 retail outlets nationwide are represented. Current rankings are based on a weighted analysis of unit sales in September.

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Updated Oct. 22, 1998 by bwwebmaster
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