They’re not just for bonbon-consuming housewives anymore: According to a recent Newsday article, soap opera producers are trying to resuscitate sagging TV ratings by weaving in more fantastical plots for younger viewers. But fear not, loyal melodrama buffs — publishers are also getting into the act, with lushly produced tomes featuring airbrushed photographs and labyrinthine plot summaries from sudsy years past. Kind of makes you feel like sleeping with your sister’s husband, developing amnesia, and accusing your long-lost evil twin of doing the deed, no?
The Young and the Restless: Special Silver Anniversary Collector’s Edition, by Barbara Irwin and Mary Cassata
Sample revelation ”When Cole and Victoria returned from their honeymoon, Victor stopped them cold with the truth: they were brother and sister!”
Behind-the-scenes tidbit Michael Damian says he learned to steer clear of women who graduated ”with a major in Mickey Slipping-Blood-Test Switching.”
Rating The most detailed of the soap books includes an eight-page tour of fictional Genoa City, complete with characters’ addresses. Four Stars
General Hospital: The Complete Scrapbook, by Gary Warner
Sample revelation ”Anna proved she still had what it took to seduce her ex-husband Robert. Then she bound and gagged him!”
Behind-the-scenes tidbit A strategically placed banana diffused first-love-scene jitters between Jack Wagner and Kristina Wagner.
Rating With an entire section devoted to both ”Classic Couples” and ”Dangerous Liaisons,” this is a romance junkie’s delight. Four Stars
One Life to Live: Thirty Years of Memories, by Gary Warner
Sample revelation ”When she couldn’t have Max Holden, a forlorn Gabrielle Medina did the next best thing — she married his brother, Steve!”
Behind-the-scenes tidbit Miffed that there would be no French kissing during his screen test, Thorsten Kaye thought, ”Great, because that’s what I wanted to do, tongue everybody and go home.”
Rating A sprinkling of choice lines (e.g., ”Sticks and stones may break my bones, but Dorian is just an irritation”) adds a you-are-there quality to the text. Three Stars
The Official All My Children Trivia Book, by Gerard J. Waggett
Sample revelation ”Kendall [said] Dimitri had raped her. Erica flipped out and plunged a letter opener into Dimitri’s chest.”
The makeup department goes through a quart of foundation and 25 cans of hair spray per month.
Rating Chockful of quizzes and factoids, this no-frills paperback makes up for its lack of style by cramming in the trivia. Two Stars
The Bold and the Beautiful: A Tenth Anniversary Celebration, by Robert Waldron
Sample revelation ”Macy saw through Anthony’s plan and sang to him ‘You’re Never Gonna Get It’ at the Bikini Bar.”
Lindsay Price’s real-life parents are brother and sister: Her grandfather’s adopted daughter married her grandfather’s son.
Rating A bit too much information. One Star