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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 2004 through November 2005.
Alexievich, Svetlana. Voices from Chernobyl. Tr. by Keith Gessen. Dalkey Archive, $22.95 (1-56478-401-0).
Survivors of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster provide unforgettable witness to official corruption, incompetence, and indifference.
Anonymous. A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City. Tr. by Philip Boehm. Holt/Metropolitan, $23 (0-8050-7540-2).
This disturbing diary written after the fall of Berlin recalls the mass rape perpetrated by Russian forces and the harrowing choices a woman had to make to survive.
Bordewich, Fergus. Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America. HarperCollins/Amistad, $27.95 (0-06-052430-8).
Bordewich brings to light the secret social movement in which blacks and whites together led thousands of runaway slaves to freedom.
Cathcart, Brian. The Fly in the Cathedral: How a Group of Cambridge Scientists Won the International Race to Split the Atom. Farrar, $25 (0-374-15716-2).
Cambridge University physicists John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton race international rivals to achieve a landmark scientific event—the splitting of the atom.
Diamond, Jared M. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Viking, $29.95 (0-670-03337-5).
Easter Island, Norse Greenland, Rwanda, and other societies reveal the catastrophic consequences of environmental mismanagement.
Eichenwald, Kurt.Conspiracy of Fools. Broadway, $26 (0-7679-1178-4).
The meteoric rise and spectacular downfall of Enron is detailed in this suspenseful blow-by-blow account of executive greed, arrogance, and stupidity.
Ghosh, Amitav. The Hungry Tide. Houghton, $25 (0-618-32997-7).
An American biologist drawn to a remote region of India to study river dolphins experiences adventure, love, and a growing social awareness.
Lepore, Jill. New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan. Knopf, $26.95 (1-4000-4029-9).
Lepore masterfully reconstructs the events surrounding the 1741 fires in lower Manhattan, which led to the torture and execution of slaves by whites who feared rebellion.
Moorehead, Caroline. Human Cargo: A Journey among Refugees. Holt, $26 (0-8050-7443-0).
Moorehead puts a human face on the tidal wave of despair suffered by 20 million refugees worldwide.
Packer, George. The Assassin’s Gate: America in Iraq. Farrar, $25 (0-374-29963-3).
Packer skillfully navigates the politics of the U.S. decision to invade Iraq and the postwar reconstruction that has betrayed all sides.
Reiss, Tom. The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life. Random, $25.95 (1-4000-6265-9).
The chameleon life of Lev Nussimbaum, a Jew turned Muslim who became a best-selling author in Nazi Germany.
Reynolds, David S. John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights. Knopf, $30 (0-375-41188-7).
This cultural biography shows John Brown’s passion for justice and commitment to equality devolving into violent confrontations and contributing to a nation divided.
Walker, Stephen. Shockwave: Countdown to Hiroshima. HarperCollins, $26.95 (0-06-074284-4).
History is brought dramatically alive in this moment-by-moment account of the events immediately surrounding the bombing of Hiroshima.
Walls, Jeannette. The Glass Castle. Scribner, $24 (0-7432-4753-1).
A successful writer spots her mother digging through trash on a New York City street, sparking painful and affectionate memories of an unusual childhood.
Bates, Judy Fong. Midnight at the Dragon Café. Counterpoint, paper, $14 (1-58243-189-2).
In this deeply moving coming-of-age story, a young Chinese girl and her family struggle to adapt to life in a small Ontario town.
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Houghton, $24.95 (0-618-32970-6).
For nine-year-old Oskar, grief over the loss of his father turns into a series of riddles in this luminous and inventive post-9/11 novel.
Gaitskill, Mary. Veronica. Pantheon, $23 (0-375-42145-9).
A former model is haunted by the memory of an AIDS-stricken friend in a story that pierces the heart and illumines the excesses of the 1980s.
Ishiguro, Kazuo. Never Let Me Go. Knopf, $25 (1-4000-4339-5).
An English boarding school conceals a shocking secret that only gradually dawns on the reader of this finely observed, thought-provoking novel.
Iweala, Uzodinma. Beasts of No Nation. HarperCollins, $16.95 (0-06-079867-X).
In this chilling debut novel set in West Africa, a captured boy tells how he becomes a soldier and learns to kill to survive.
McCarthy, Cormac. No Country for Old Men. Knopf, $26 (0-375-10677-8).
A veteran Texas sheriff reflects on a troubled society and an increasingly evil breed of criminal as he confronts the fast-moving case of a botched drug deal.
McEwan, Ian. Saturday. Doubleday/Nan A. Talese, $26 (0-385-51180-9).
In this subtly crafted novel, a chance encounter during a typical Saturday in the life of a successful London neurosurgeon leads to a life-altering series of events.
Murakami, Haruki. Kafka on the Shore. Tr. by Philip Gabriel. Knopf, $25.95 (1-4000-4366-2).
In this imaginative novel, a 15-year-old Japanese boy embarks on a surreal odyssey after his father’s murder.
Robinson, Marilynne. Gilead. Farrar, $23 (0-374-15389-2).
A small-town Iowa minister weaves together issues of conscience and commitment with family secrets in a rich tapestry of American life.
Urrea, Luis Alberto. The Hummingbird’s Daughter. Little, Brown, $24.95 (0-316-74546-4).
A family legend becomes a finely spun epic reimagining the life of a Mexican peasant girl who has the ability to perform miracles.
Alexander, Elizabeth. American Sublime. Graywolf, paper, $14 (1-55597-432-5).
Sparkling with humanity and unexpected grace, Alexander’s poems reflect on art, dreams, history, and the African American experience.
Dybeck, Stuart. Streets in Their Own Ink. Farrar, $20 (0-374-27095-3).
Dybeck draws readers into big-city dreams and hard realities through imaginative storytelling and striking imagery of people and places.
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