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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 titles have been selected by the Notable Books Council of the Reference and Adult Services Division of ALA 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 1996 through October 1997 that demonstrate wide general appeal and literary merit.
Alvarez, Julia. ¡Yo! Algonquin, $18.95 (1-56512-157-0).
Like a prism held to the sun, the novel reveals various facets of Yolanda Garcia through the stories of those whose lives touch hers.
Atwood, Margaret. Alias Grace. Doubleday/ Nan A. Talese, $24.95 (0-385-47571-3).
Atwood skillfully blends fact and fiction in her account of a notorious nineteenth-century crime. Convicted murderess Grace Marks emerges as an enigmatic and complex character.
Choy, Wayson. The Jade Peony. St. Martin’s/ Picador USA, $22 (0-312-15556-5).
Intergenerational and cultural tensions are explored in this novel, narrated by three Chinese Canadian siblings growing up in Vancouver’s Chinatown during World War II.
Deane, Seamus. Reading in the Dark. Knopf, $23 (0-394-57440-0).
This dark and haunting novel, illuminated by exquisite writing, is a strikingly vivid portrayal of a young boy’s childhood in northern Ireland.
Frazier, Charles. Cold Mountain. Atlantic Monthly; dist. by Publishers Group West, $23 (0-87113-679-1).
A Confederate deserter walks home to his sweetheart in North Carolina, a woman confronting her own obstacles. This odyssey is filled with memorable characters, period detail, and vivid scenery.
Garcia, Cristina. The Agüero Sisters. Knopf, $24 (0-679-45090-4).
Sisters estranged for 30 years reunite in Miami—one from a life spent in Cuba, one from middle-class New York. Magical, exuberant, and complex.
Murakami, Haruki. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Knopf, $26.95 (0-679-44669-9).
A young man abandons the familiar to embark on a mysterious search that takes him through his collapsing marriage and Japan’s history and toward his own identity.
Perrotta, Tom. The Wishbones. Putnam, $21.95 (0-399-14267-3).
Dave, a 30-year old musician, comes of age in this hilarious novel that has sharply portrayed characters, a fast and funny plot, and a few bittersweet moments.
Smith, Lee. News of the Spirit. Putnam, $23.95 (0-399-14281-9).
Southern grace, spirit, and humor reverberate through this collection of six imaginative short stories, populated with eccentric characters.
Stollman, Aryeh Lev. The Far Euphrates. Putnam/Riverhead, $21.95 (1-57322-075-2).
In beautifully understated prose, Stollman tells a haunting coming-of-age story, steeped in Jewish history and mysticism.
Yamanaka, Lois-Ann. Blu’s Hanging. Farrar, $22 (0-374-11499-4).
In mid-1970s Hawaii, the three Ogata children struggle to overcome devastating grief, poverty, and loss in the wake of their mother’s death and their father’s emotional paralysis.
Lindsay, Sarah. Primate Behavior. Grove; dist. by Publishers Group West, $20 (0-8021-1619-1).
This wildly imaginative collection takes readers to places they have never been and perhaps never wanted to go. Eerie and unforgettable.
Piercy, Marge. What Are Big Girls Made Of? Knopf, $25 (0-679-45065-3).
Piercy presents a portfolio of poignantly evoked poems in this collection of her memories, thoughts, and interactions with life and love.
Walcott, Derek. The Bounty. Farrar, $18 (0-374-11556-7).
Walcott crafts lines that pull the reader across the page in these evocative and eloquent poems. He explores themes of faith, place, and memory.
Alvarez, Walter. T. Rex and the Crater of Doom. Princeton, $24.95 (0-691-01630-5).
Geologist Alvarez’s detective story spans decades and claims to solve the mystery of dinosaur extinction. Good science in a clear and comprehensible style.
Bragg, Rick. All Over but the Shoutin’. Pantheon, $25 (0-679-44258-8).
Pulitzer Prize winner Bragg unleashes his powerful analytical skills and expansive storytelling genius on his own childhood and family in an attempt to explain himself.
Ehrenreich, Barbara. Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War. Holt/ Metropolitan, $25 (0-8050-5077-9).
Ehrenreich’s intriguing and provocative cultural history of the human lust for violence explores the universal need to translate bloodshed into sacred ritual.
Figes, Orlando. A People’s Tragedy: A History of the Russian Revolution. Viking, $34.95 (0-670-85916-8).
In this fascinating account, Figes draws on letters, diaries, and newly opened archival materials to analyze the roots of a momentous historical event.
Fouts, Roger and Mills, Stephen Tukel. Next of Kin: What Chimpanzees Have Taught Me about Who We Are. Morrow, $25 (0-688-14862-X).
Based on his lifelong involvement in teaching sign language to chimpanzees, Fouts challenges both the accepted theories of language development and the morality of animal experimentation.
Fraser, Kennedy. Ornament and Silence: Essays on Women’s Lives. Knopf, $25 (0-394-58539-9).
The lives and passion of individual women, famous and less known, are explored in this rich tapestry of well-crafted essays.
Junger, Sebastian. The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men against the Sea. Norton, $25(0-393-04016-X).
Junger recounts the harrowing tale of the Andrea Gail, her six-man fishing crew, and their disappearance during the most powerful nor’easter of this century.
Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster. Villard, $24 (0-679-45752-6).
This gripping firsthand account of the 1996 climb argues that the commercialization of Mount Everest has degraded its fragile environment, threatened the Sherpas’ survival, and brought death to climbers.
Maier, Pauline. American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence. Knopf, $27.50 (0-679-45492-6).
Maier describes the events that led to the creation of the Declaration and argues that the present veneration distorts the intent of the signers.
Raban, Jonathan. Bad Land: An American Romance. Pantheon, $25 (0-679-44254-5).
Raban eloquently reveals the power the land holds over the inhabitants of the eastern Montana plains, exploring factors as diverse as early 1900s railroad propaganda, capricious weather, and isolation.
Solomon, Deborah. Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell. Farrar, $30 (0-374-18012-1).
As Solomon unlocks Cornell, she reveals generations of vanguard artists, American pop culture, and New York in its heyday. A life that wonderfully illuminates the art.
Winchester, Simon. The River at the Center of the World: A Journey up the Yangtze and Back in Chinese Time. Holt, $27.50 (0-8050-3888-4).
An intelligent, learned, and witty observer examines present-day China within a context of history, ecology, geology, and politics. This is travel writing at its best.
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