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Find more Notable Books
This list has been compiled for use by the general reader and by librarians who work with adults. The Notable Books Council, ALA Reference and User Services Association, has selected the titles for their significant contribution to the expansion of knowledge or for the pleasure they can provide to adult readers. Titles were selected from books published from November 2002 through October 2003 that demonstrate wide general appeal and literary merit.
Boyd, Valerie. Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston. Scribner/Lisa Drew, $30 (0-684-84230-0).
The famous Harlem Renaissance writer and folklorist is portrayed in a spirited biography spiced with quotes from her work.
Faderman, Lillian. Naked in the Promised Land. Houghton, $26 (0-618-12875-1).
Lillian Faderman, renowned lesbian feminist, passionately recalls her unique journey from immigrant’s daughter to model and stripper to women’s-studies scholar.
Hagedorn, Ann. Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Underground Railroad. Simon & Schuster, $25 (0-684-87065-7).
This gripping history of nineteenth-century Ohio abolitionist families eschews myths and legends to expose the reality behind the Underground Railroad.
Hays, Sharon. Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform. Oxford, $28 (0-19-513288-2).
Hays clearly examines the persistent misconceptions and enduring realities of America’s efforts at welfare reform since 1996.
Kidder, Tracy. Mountains beyond Mountains: Healing the World: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer. Random, $25.95 (0-375-50616-0).
Kidder draws an inspiring portrait of an American physician and medical educator who dedicated his life to serving the poor in Haiti and Peru and challenged world-health policies.
King, Ross. Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling. Walker, $28 (0-8027-1395-5).
Sixteenth-century Italy comes alive in this vibrant account of a misanthropic genius and the artistic treasure he created.
Krakauer, Jon. Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith. Doubleday, $26 (0-385-50951-0)
Krakauer examines the obscure world of Mormon fundamentalism, as well as violence that is rooted in religious beliefs taken to extremes.
LeBlanc, Adrian Nicole. Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx. Scribner, $25 (0-684-86387-1).
The circumscribed world of the Bronx urban poor is the subject of this compelling, often riveting, and always disturbing, authentic, and blunt firsthand exposé.
Pringle, Peter. Food, Inc.: Mendel to Monsanto-the Promise and Perils of the Biotech Harvest. Simon & Schuster, $25 (0-7432-2611-9).
A journalist provides a balanced and thought-provoking view of the economic, ecological, and political controversies surrounding genetically modified food.
Quammen, David. Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind. Norton, $25.95 (0-393-05140-4).
Dragons, sharks, Manchurian tigers, crocodiles, and other big flesh eaters are the focus of this multifaceted examination of, as well as a moving meditation on, the earth’s changing communities.
Taubman, William. Khrushchev: The Man and His Era. Norton, $35 (0-393-05144-7).
This arresting portrait of the Soviet leader who was both hero and villain examines the cold war era he personified.
Von Drehle, David. Triangle: The Fire That Changed America. Atlantic, $25 (0-87113-874-3).
The tragic loss of more than 140 lives in a New York tenement factory fire forges collaboration among Tammany politicians, suffragettes, and labor reformers.
Ali, Monica. Brick Lane. Scribner, $25 (0-7432-4330-7).
This engaging first novel tells the story of a sympathetic Bangladesh woman who challenges her fate and imagines a life full of passion and purpose.
Antunes, Antonio Lobo. The Inquisitors’ Manual. Tr. By Richard Zenith. Grove, $25 (0-1732-8021-5).
Using stream of consciousness, Antunes gets to the heart and soul of the depravity of Portugal’s Salazar dictatorship through the lives that were affected.
Boyd, William. Any Human Heart. Knopf, $26 (0-375-41493-2).
The diary of a writer, spy, and lover takes the reader on an amazing and intimate journey through the major events of the twentieth century.
Carey, Edward. Alva & Irva: The Twins Who Saved a City. Harcourt, $24 (0-15-100782-9).
The magical city of Entralla inspires the fantastic genius of a set of twins, who heal their devastated world through plasticine miniatures.
Casares, Oscar. Brownsville. Little, Brown, paper, $13.95 (0-316-14680-3).
Brownsville is a deceptively quiet border town where lives play out at an emotionally steady pace, but Casares’ stories follow dreams that give people new directions.
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner. Riverhead, $24.95 (1-57322-245-3).
The boyhood friendship of social opposites and the strong father-son relationship of two Afghan émigrés form the heart of this story of Afghanistan at peace and war.
Jones, Edward P. The Known World. HarperCollins/Amistad, $24.95 (0-06-055754-0).
Slavery, a cancer that takes many forms, is the source of complex relationships in this story of black slaveholders in antebellum Virginia.
Haddon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Doubleday, $22.95 (0-385-50945-6).
A teenage autistic savant narrates his search for the killer of his neighbor’s dog, which leads to discoveries about his own life.
Lethem, Jonathan. The Fortress of Solitude. Doubleday, $26 (0-385-50069-6).
Life is hell for Dylan, a white kid in a rundown Brooklyn neighborhood, until he makes friends with Mingus, the son of an addicted R & B star.
Morrison, Toni. Love. Knopf, $23.95 (0-375-40944-0).
Past and present rivalries dominate this haunting tale of the feuding women connected to the late owner of a once-flourishing hotel for the black elite.
O’Connor, Joseph. Star of the Sea. Harcourt, $25 (0-15-100908-2).
Danger, regret, and hope lurk on every deck, from steerage to first class, of an 1847 ship full of Irish immigrants desperate for a new life in America.
Packer, ZZ. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere. Riverhead, $24.95 (1-57322-234-8).
In Packer’s first collection of short stories, about the African American experience, misfits living on the fringes of society face life-altering choices.
Saramago, Jose. The Cave. Tr. by Margaret Jull Costa. Harcourt, $25 (0-15-100414-5).
This dark, allegorical tale juxtaposes a rural existence with artificial modern life and examines love, relationships, and family.
Espada, Martin. Alabanza: New and Selected Poems, 1982-2002. Norton, $24.95 (0-393-05192-7).
This 20-year collection of spare, passionate, and acutely sensitive poems sings alabanza, or “praise,” for the world’s voiceless and dispossessed multitudes.
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