Thinking Out Loud: On the Personal, the Political, the Public and the Private (Random House) is a collection of Anna Quindlen's syndicated newspaper columns. By definition the book shouldn't work: journalism, especially this kind, is necessarily ephemeral. But it does work, because the selection and arrangement are excellent, and because Quindlen is a darn good writer and thinker. Rodney King, Arthur Ashe, Ross Perot (the "wake-up call with ears"), the Gulf War, kids, gender politics, homeless people, suicide, journalism—Quindlen fears no subject, and it's a pleasure to be around when she's thinking out loud. "When a problem becomes rooted in our everyday perceptions," she writes, "it is understood to be without solution." In a medium that is too often superficial, Quindlen explores how the problems get so rooted, and refuses to accept them as inevitable.