PW’s Best Books of 2004 were chosen by the following PW editors: Fiction: Natasha Wimmer, Emily Chenoweth, Jeff Zaleski; Comics: Calvin Reid, Lynn Andriani, Heidi Macdonald, Douglas Wolk; Mystery: Peter Cannon, Jeff Zaleski; SF/Fantasy/Horror: Peter Cannon; Mass Market: Brianna Yamashita; Nonfiction: Sarah Gold, Lynn Andriani, Michael Scharf, Emily Chenoweth, Marcela Valdes, Brianna Yamashita, Jeff Zaleski; Illustrated: Michael Scharf; Lifestyles: Lynn Andriani; Poetry: Michael Scharf; Religion: Jana Reiss.
A compelling, topical debut novel about the uncertain lives of illegal Algerian immigrants and the consequences of the war on terror.
The Smallest People Alive
Keith Banner (Carnegie Mellon)
A searing first collection of stories inhabited by rural gay white men, “queers…wanting to escape but not knowing how.”
Natasha: And Other Stories
David Bezmozgis (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
A remarkable debut collection rendering the Russian-Jewish immigrant experience with powerful specificity.
Madeleine Is Sleeping
Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum (Harcourt)
The allegorical, enchanting tale of the life and dreams of a French girl; a National Book Award finalist.
The Rule of Four
Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason (Dial)
A brainy alternative to The Da Vinci Code—a 15th-century manuscript is deciphered by four Princeton students.
The Half Brother
Lars Saabye Christensen, trans. from the Norwegian by Kenneth Steven (Arcade)
The story of an unconventional Oslo family, steeped in European history yet startlingly contemporary.
Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)
A dynamite Harry Bosch mystery/thriller generating thrills from inspired sleuthing amid bureaucratic obstacles.
W. Dale Cramer (Bethany House)
An evocative work of Christian fiction about an orphaned boy who finds a new home with Georgia miners.
State of Fear
Michael Crichton (HarperCollins)
A masterful technothriller that offers not only high suspense but a fascinating and controversial treatment of a major global issue.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)
An extraordinary novel of two magicians who attempt to restore English magic in the age of Napoleon.
John Dalton (Scribner)
Sober and searching, yet sublimely comic—an impressive debut about a modern-day missionary in Taiwan.
Percival Everett (Hyperion)
Just one of three sharp, satirical works of fiction produced this year by Everett (see also A History of the African-American People [Proposed] by Strom Thurmond, with James Kincaid, and Damned If I Do).
The Jane Austen Book Club
Karen Joy Fowler (Putnam)
Six book club members read Austen in this heady, quirky, subversive novel, a surprise bestseller.
The Line of Beauty
Alan Hollinghurst (Bloomsbury)
Winner of the Man Booker prize, an incisive satire of Thatcher’s London and a gay coming-of-age story.
Ha Jin (Pantheon)
A brave, complex and politically timely work, the story of a reluctant Chinese soldier trying to survive a POW camp.
An Unfinished Season
Ward Just (Houghton Mifflin)
Just returns to his roots in the Midwest—a crisp, intelligent novel about class divisions and lost innocence.
Seth Kantner (Milkweed)
A riveting debut novel about a boy growing up in the Alaskan wilderness—sets a new standard in ecological fiction.
Dean Koontz (Bantam)
Relentless suspense buoyed by humor, with a strong spiritual message, hallmark this immensely absorbing novel from a perennial bestseller.
Hari Kunzru (Dutton)
A stirring, satirical second novel about the US adventures of an Indian computer programmer and Bollywood buff.
Adam Langer (Riverhead)
A tale of late 1970s Chicago—Langer’s steely humanism puts him firmly in the tradition of Bellow and Dybek.
John Le Carré (Little, Brown)
An eloquent, up-to-date thriller about two men who join forces in Germany to combat what they see as a duplicitous war in Iraq.
Chang-rae Lee (Riverhead)
An exploration of race and belonging in America from the perspective of a bewildered Long Island patriarch.
Margot Livesy (Holt)
An elegant love story that gently probes the depths of longing, betrayal and forgiveness by the author of Eva Moves the Furniture.
Breaking the Tongue
Vyvyane Loh (Norton)
A debut novel brilliantly chronicling the internal decay of the British Empire in Singapore during WWII.
David Maine (St. Martin’s)
A kaleidoscopic take on the story of Noah’s ark—a spirited, imaginative debut.
Thomas Mallon (Pantheon)
A gleeful, exuberant comedy of errors set in the Manhattan magazine world of the 1920s.
An Evening of Long Goodbyes
Paul Murray (Random)
A deft, jaunty blend of Wodehousian drawing-room comedy and postindustrial hilarity.
V. S. Naipaul (Knopf)
Naipaul’s nowhere-man narrator joins a guerrilla group in India, then escapes to upper middle class London--a sequel to Half a Life.
Joyce Carol Oates (Ecco)
Oates at the top of her form—a sprawling novel set in the city of Niagara Falls in the 1950s.
Tawni O’Dell (Viking)
A fierce, richly sympathetic portrayal of a coal-town community in Pennsylvania.
Heir to the Glimmering World
Cynthia Ozick (Houghton Mifflin)
An erudite Depression-era tale of scholarly rapture and squalor, narrated by an orphaned research assistant.
Robert B. Parker (Putnam)
Jackie Robinson sees the color barrier broken in Major League baseball—a superb recreation of a turbulent era.
Douglas Preston andLincolnChild (Warner)
Their best cerebral action adventure novel yet, an extravagantly enjoyable tale of international intrigue.
Jonathan Raymond (Bloomsbury)
One hundred years of change in the Pacific Northwest, from the perspective of traders and commune dwellers.
Gregory David Roberts (St. Martin’s)
A massive, thrillingly undomesticated potboiler set in teeming Bombay.
Nora Roberts (Putnam)
A richly textured romantic suspense tale set in the Alaskan wilderness, by perennial bestseller Roberts.
The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters
Elisabeth Robinson (Little, Brown)
A tragicomic first novel revolving around the unlikely poles of Hollywood and leukemia.
Marilynne Robinson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
The gentle, mesmerizing meditations of an Iowa minister in fading health, by the author of Housekeeping.
The Plot Against America
Philip Roth (Houghton Mifflin)
One of Roth’s most unusual creations—an alternative history of the US under anti-Semitic president Charles Lindbergh.
Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories
Joan Silber (Norton)
Six elegantly connected stories exploring the conflicts and commonalities of love, faith and sex; a National Book Award finalist.
Wolves Eat Dogs
Martin Cruz Smith (S&S)
Melancholy, indefatigable Senior Investigator Arkady Renko in post-meltdown Chernobyl.
The System of the World
Neal Stephenson (Morrow)
The second and third volumes in Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, a massive, magisterial trilogy exploring the origins of the modern world in the scientific revolution that swept England in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.
In the Night Room
Peter Straub (Random)
An original, astonishingly smart and expertly entertaining meditation on imagination and its powers.
Colm Tóibín (Scribner)
Tóibín puts himself inside the mind of novelist Henry James—a riveting portrait of the creative life.
The Last Crossing
Guy Vanderhaeghe (Atlantic Monthly)
A sweeping epic set in the raw US-Canadian Indian territories of the late 19th century.
Kate Walbert (Scribner)
The prickly collective tale of a group of wealthy, aging suburban women; a National Book Award finalist.
The Godfather Returns
Mark Winegardner (Random)
Winegardner carries on the legacy—a phenomenally entertaining, psychologically rich saga that spans the entire Godfather years.
Locas: The Maggie and Hopey Stories
Jaime Hernandez (Fantagraphics)
Masterful stories about the lovers Maggie, girl mechanic, and Hopey, punkchick troublemaker, in the midst of the 1980s Southern California Chicano-youth and punk rock scene.
Hikaru No Go
Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata (Viz)
Sixth grader Hikaru Shindo accidentally awakens the elegant ghost of a beautiful, 12th-century master of the ancient Japanese game of Go.
Santa Inoue (Tokyopop)
A hip-hop influenced manga about two former high school buddies, now in rival gangs, who are at the center of a brutal murder.
Grant Morrison and Chris Weston (DC/Vertigo)
A psychedelic science fiction adventure that pits humanity’s need to dream against a backdrop of communist monkey assassins, giant city-states and perverted supermen.
Clyde Fans Book 1
Seth (Drawn & Quarterly)
In a dying fan business in a small town in Canada, two very different brothers play out lives of quiet desperation.
Age of Bronze: Sacrifice
Eric Shanower (Image)
Shanower’s Trojan War masterpiece; continues with Helen’s arrival in Troy and Kassandra’s prediction of impending death and doom.
The Complete Bone
Jeff Smith (Cartoon Books)
A 1,300-page single-volume edition of this delightful fantasy adventure about a group of cartoon cousins lost in a fairytale valley.
In The Shadow of No Towers
Art Spiegelman (Pantheon)
The story of Spiegelman’s family’s 9/11 ordeal, outrage over the march to war and the history of the American newspaper comic strip.
Charles Benoit (Poisoned Pen)
In Benoit’s smashingly good, action-packed first novel, the search for a stolen gem takes a young Pennsylvania brewery worker on a hilarious and often murderous chase through North Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
The Damascened Blade
Beverly Cleverly (Carroll & Graf)
British author Cleverly out-Christies Agatha Christie in her third fair-play historical, involving skulduggery on India’s northwest frontier in 1922.
Wife of Man
Margaret Coel (Berkley Prime Crime)
Drawing on Edward S. Curtis’s real-life early 20th-century Plains Indians photographs, Coel blends authentic history with an ingenious plot in her 10th whodunit to feature Arapaho lawyer Vicky Holden.
The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, edited by Leslie Klinger (Norton)
Modeling his efforts on William S. Baring-Gould’s classic Annotated Sherlock Holmes, Klinger provides fascinating scholarly commentary on the 56 canonical short stories in this two-volume set.
Good Morning, Darkness
Ruth Francisco (Mysterious)
A human arm washed up on a Malibu beach leads to serpentine and sanguinary plot complications in Francisco’s outstanding stand-alone, her second novel after 2003’s Confessions of a Deathmaiden.
Bethlehem Road Murder: A Michael Ohayon Mystery
Batya Gur (HarperCollins)
An attractive young woman’s murder points to a scandalous government cover-up in Gur’s fifth mystery to feature Chief Inspector Michael Ohayon, Israel’s answer to P.D. James’s Adam Dalgliesh.
Summer of the Big Bachi
Naomi Hirahara (Delta)
In Hirahara’s seamless and shyly powerful first novel, elderly Japanese-American gardener Mas Arai opens old emotional wounds in order to solve a murder with roots in the atomic blast that leveled Hiroshima in 1945.
Walter Mosley (Little, Brown)
The terror and moral ambiguities of the Watts Riots of 1965 sear the pages of this Easy Rawlins mystery, the finest novel to date from the proflic and multitalented author.
The Judgment of Caesar: A Novel of Ancient Rome
Steven Saylor (St. Martin’s Minotaur)
At the top of his form in his 10th Gordianus the Finder book, Saylor dares make the mystery—the identity of a poisoner who does in the royal taster and almost kills Caesar and Cleopatra—a late subplot.
The Darkness That Comes Before: The Prince of Nothing Book One
R. Scott Bakker (Overlook)
Canadian author Bakker’s challenging debut, the first of a new trilogy in the Tolkien tradition, depicts an utterly foreign world that will gratify those weary of formulaic epic fantasy.
Weapons of Choice
John Birmingham (Del Rey)
Australian author Birmingham’s alternative history, in which a United Nations naval task force in the year 2021 finds itself in the middle of the U.S. fleet on its way to Midway in 1942, sets a new standard for the subgenre.
Theodore Judson (DAW)
Like Heinlein, Asimov and other SF greats, Judson doesn’t let his message get in the way of his story, about a puritanical 26th-century agrarian empire, in his impressive first novel.
Alphabet of Thorn
Patricia A. McKillip (Ace)
McKillip subverts genre clichés in a fantasy about an orphan foundling that will please all who have bemoaned the death of the true fairy tale.
The Knight: Book One of the Wizard Knight
& The Wizard: Book Two of the Wizard Knight
Gene Wolfe (Tor)
In this two-book fantasy about a young man’s rise to knighthood, Wolfe proves one can tell an epic, myth-based story of honor, loyalty, courage and faith relevant to our own dark times.
Master of None
N. Lee Wood (Warner Aspect)
Newcomer Wood explores gender, linguistics, justice, greed and malice in this intricately imagined far-future look at a closed matriarchal world.
Bait and Switch
Larry Brooks (Signet)
Sexy and surprising, a thriller told from the perspective of a delightfully cynical protagonist.
Mark Budz (Bantam)
A sci-fi novel that challenges the imagination and the intellect, and contains shades of William Gibson, Isaac Asimov and William Burroughs.
Secrets of a Summer Night
Lisa Kleypas (Avon)
The richest and most compelling historical romance of the year.
The Butler Did It
Kasey Michaels (Harlequin/HQN)
Michaels’s 86th book—an unforgettably fun and playful Regency-era romance.
Island of Bones
P.J. Parrish (Pinnacle)
The fifth—and best—murder mystery by Parrish, containing crisp dialogue, tight plotting and two charismatic investigators.
The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse
Robert Rankin (Gollancz, dist. by Trafalgar Square)
A wickedly clever, Douglas Adams-esque work that imagines a town where toys and nursery rhymes come to life.
The New Ethics: A Guided Tour of the Twenty-First Century Moral Landscape
Anita L. Allen (Miramax)
Examples drawn from recent headlines abound—everything from Martha Stewart to physician-assisted suicide—along with lesser known lawsuits and anecdotes from Allen’s past, in this smart survey of want v. should.
Neoconomy: George Bush’s Revolutionary Gamble with America’s Future
Daniel Altman (Public Affairs)
The man who found four billion hidden dollars on Enron’s balance sheets examines the current administration’s books with clarity, force and a sense of mission.
The Story of a Life
Aharon Appelfeld, trans. from the Nebrew by Aloma Halter.(Pantheon)
The Holocaust and an artist’s genesis recounted with spare and elegant simplicity—sure to be a classic.
Let Me Tell You a Story: A Lifetime in the Game
Red Auerbach and John Feinstein (Little, Brown)
D.C.’s famous China Doll club throught the eyes two of sport’s most sought-after storytellers.
The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir
Toni Bentley (Regan)
A former dancer’s rhapsodic account of transcendence through unbounded passion.
We Shall Overcome: A History of the Civil Rights Movement as It Happened
Herb Boyd. (Sourcebooks)
A stirring march of progress is bookended here by murders (Till; MLK); the accompany CDs, narrated by Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, offer everything from protest songs to the recollections of sit-in participants.
The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1933—March 1942
Christopher R. Browning (Univ. of Nebraska/Yad Vashem)
A superb mastery of the sources in what will be the standard work on the Holocaust’s emergence.
Ron Chernow (Penguin Press)
A consummate biography commensurate with the achievements and complex character of its subject.
Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom
Catherine Clinton (Little, Brown)
A deep immersion in Southern history, women’s history and African-American history illuminates the long life (1825-1913) of the woman known as “Moses.”
Torture And Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, And The War On Terror
Mark Danner (New York Review)
A trove of available documents, and then some, related to the scandal.
Neil de Grasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith (Norton)
The most informative, congenial and accessible general look at cosmology in years.
Chronicles: Volume One
Bob Dylan (S&S)
After a career of principled coyness, the growth of Dylan’s artistic conscience.
His Excellency: George Washington
Joseph Ellis (Knopf)
A magisterial account in which the aloof legend is humanized.
David Fischer (OxfordUniv.)
A general who held himself accountable, magnificently, to a citizenry.
The Search for Nefertiti: The True Story of an Amazing Discovery
Joann Fletcher (Morrow)
A learned and intensely personal chronicle of Fletcher’s career as an Egyptologist and her most groundbreaking discovery.
Nightingales: The Story of Florence Nightingale and Her Remarkable Family
Gillian Gill (Ballantine)
Gill’s knowledge of the era is profound, her judgment sound, her narrative voice cozy—a reader’s delight.
Traveling with Che Guevara: The Making of a Revolutionary
Alberto Grando, trans. from the Spanish by Luciá Álvarez de Toledo (Newmarket)
A moving, perceptive memoir recounting an eight-month-long South American tour that Granado, then a 29-year-old doctor, and Ernesto “Che” Guevara, took in 1952.
Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
Stephen Greenblatt (Norton)
The most vivid and complete portrait of the Bard to date.
The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time and the Texture of Reality
Brian Greene (Knopf)
An unparalleled presentation of higher mathematics and physics in clear, felicitous prose.
The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them
Amy Goodman (Hyperion)
Hard-hitting reporting on an array of human rights, government accountability and media responsibility issues—bracing.
The Art of the Interview: Lessons a Master of the Craft
LawrenceGrobel (Three Rivers)
Thoroughly entertaining—the equivalent of a master class on one of the toughest jobs in journalism.
Journey From the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught In Revolutionary Iran
Roya Hakakian (Crown)
A haunting eyewitness account of the fall of the Shah of Iran and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.
Jews and the American Soul: Human Nature in the Twentieth Century
Andrew R. Heinze (Princeton)
Groundbreaking, wonderfully researched and consistently provocative, a splendid social history.
Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib
SeymourM. Hersh (HarperCollins)
From the horrors committed at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to the inner sanctums of America’s intelligence, military, political and diplomatic worlds.
Jerome Robbins: His Life, His Theater, His Dance
Deborah Jowitt (S&S)
A lucid, insightful chronicle of Robbins’s career by the Village Voice dance critic and author of Time and the Dancing Image.
Cooking for Kings: The Life of Antonin Carème, the First Celebrity Chef
Ian Kelly (Walker)
The evocatively detailed story of a man who literally died for gastronomy.
Prisoner of the Vatican: The Popes’ Secret Plot to Capture Rome from the New Italian State
David L. Kertzer (Houghton Mifflin)
A riveting example of history writing at its best.
Namath: A Biography
Mark Kriegel (Viking)
A feel-good sports story on a 1960s icon abundant with insight and social commentary.
Goat: A Memoir
Brad Land (Random)
A gritty yet unexpectedly tender (and hip) tale of pledging a fraternityin search of respect and admiration.
Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity
LawrenceLessig (Penguin Press)
An expertly argued, alarming and surprisingly entertaining look at the current copyright wars from the Stanford law professor.
Janet & Me: An Illustrated Story of Love and Loss
Stan Mack (S&S)
A stirring account of Mack’s companion’s struggle with breast cancer—in cartoons.
Paul D. Miller aka D.J. Spooky that Subliminal Kid (MIT)
Out of the studio and onto the page (and CD)—a gorgeous, expert gestamtkunstwerk (or total art work).
Civil Wars: A Battle for Gay Marriage
David Moats (Harcourt)
Pulitzer-winner Moats grippingly chronicles the fight in Vermont for the first state law allowing gay civil unions.
Russell Muirhead (Harvard)
The contradictory and confounding elements of modern working life confronted.
The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon theUnited States (Norton)
Without trivializing any of the events or diminishing the people involved, a national disaster as Shakespearean drama.
Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis (Public Affairs)
The harrowing story of northern Sudan-born Nazer’s 1994 capture and placement into slavery; a profound meditation on the human ability to survive virtually any circumstances.
Running On Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
Peter G. Peterson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Nixon’s secretary of commerce has been right before, and sees disaster looming.
John James Audubon: The Making of an American
Richard Rhodes (Knopf)
A brilliant portrait of the famous Saint Domingue-born naturalist, traveler and artist by the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian.
Fear: The History of a Political Idea
Corey Robin (OxfordUniv.)
Fear’s Janus-faced potential as catalyst for economic progress and the raison d'être of repressive regimes.
The Invention of Painting in America
David Rosand (ColumbiaUniv.)
American painting from colonial obscurity to its stunning mid—20th-century coming-of-age.
Green River Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer—America’s Deadliest Serial Killer
Ann Rule (Free Press)
Rule validates her standing as one of the preeminent chroniclers of modern serial murder.
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
David Sedaris (Little, Brown)
Bitter and sweet, tart and rich, still talking pretty—and his funniest yet.
The Working Poor: Invisible in America
David Shipler (Knopf)
The Sisyphean efforts and difficult lives of Americans who work for substandard wages.
The Creation of the Media
Paul Starr (Basic)
An engrossing, panoramic history of the developmenet of the American media from a Pulitzer winner.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (the Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction
Jon Stewart, with the writers of the Daily Show (Warner)
The ingenious sendup of American politics by the indefatigable new Democratic hero.
Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants
Robert Sullivan (Bloomsbury)
A fascinating work of social and urban natural history centered on the humble brown rat.
I Am a Pencil: A Teacher, His Kids, and Their World of Stories
Sam Swope (Holt)
An edifying, moving memoir by a children’s book writer that shows how kids flourish when their imaginations are nurtured and they are challenged to find inner discipline and to write what they see as truth.
Chechnya: Life in a War-Torn Society
Valery Tishkov (Univ. of California)
Chechnya’s recent horrors, frankly recounted by a former minister of nationalities to Boris Yeltsin.
Love in the Driest Season: A Family Memoir
Neely Tucker (Crown)
On assignment in Zimbabwe, a foreign correspondent and his wife save the life of an AIDS-afflicted baby and adopt her.
Greenpeace: How a Group of Journalists, Ecologists and Visionaries Changed the World
Rex Weyler (Rodale)
An engaging, brisk and at times emotional inside account of Greenpeace’s early years.
Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People’s Right to Marry
Evan Wolfson (S&S)
Clear and forceful arguments strictly in terms of civil rights from Freedom to Marry director Wolfson.
Infinitas Gracias: Contemporary Mexican Votive Painting
Alfred Vilchis Roque; text by Pierre Schwartz (Chronicle)
Intensely moving work from Mexico City retablo master Roque and his sons; a deep introduction to a vital art of prayer.
Passages to Freedom The Underground Railroad In History And Memory
David W. Blight (Smithsonian)
The panoply of activities, legal and illegal, of black and white people, free and slave, who created structures of refuge.
The Most Beautiful Gardens in the World
Alain le Toquin; text by Jacques Bosser (Abrams)
From Morocco and Singapore to New Zealand and Iran—grand scope in vibrant green.
Subway Style: 100 Years of Architecture & Design in the New York City Subway
New York Transit Museum; photos by Andrew Garn (Stewart, Tabori, & Chang)
Function under pressure, above ground and below, with unexpected elements of artistry and grace.
Imagining Ground Zero: Official And Unofficial Proposals For The WorldTradeCenter Site
Suzanne Stephens with Iana Luna and Ron Broadhurst (Rizzoli)
A rush of architectural activity, zeal and speculation beautifully captured.
Serena Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day
Serena Bass (Stewart, Tabori & Chang)
A rare mixture of good food, great stories and truly unique style; as good as M.F.K. Fisher and Julia Child at their best.
Lidia’s Family Table
Lidia Bastianich (Knopf)
Presents the food Bastianich prepares at home for her large family, proving that home cooking need not be dumbed down.
Nina Campbell’s Decorating Notebook: Insider Secrets and Decorating Ideas for Your Home
Alexandra Campbell (Clarkson Potter)
A stunningly elegant view into the decision-making process of a prominent interior decorator.
The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life
Pat Conroy (Doubleday/Talese)
A collection of foodstuffs disguised as a memoir: entertaining, honest and outlandish.
The Flavors of Southern Italy
Erica De Mane (Wiley)
A collection of wonderful improvisations on the traditional recipes of southern Italian cuisine. De Mane’s adaptations are subtle, but their effect is powerful.
Feast: Food to Celebrate Life
Nigella Lawson (Hyperion)
A sensual cookbook that makes the preparation of feasts seem approachable and richly rewarding, reminding us what is primal and timeless about feasting.
Family First: Your Step-by-Step Plan for Creating a Phenomenal Family
Dr. Phil McGraw (Free Press)
Based on sound principles, a plain-spoken guide from Oprah’s favorite self-help guru which clearly outlines the components of a “phenomenal family.”
Patrick O’Connell’s Refined American Cuisine: The Inn at Little Washington
Patrick O’Connell (Bulfinch)
Recipes, explained with warmth and simplicity, demonstrate that the greatest American cooking is more than a version of regional cuisine.
Alfred Portale Simple Pleasures: Home Cooking from the Gotham Bar and Grill’s Acclaimed Chef
Alfred Portale (Morrow)
A chef works his magic on home-style foods, making particularly good use of vegetables and managing to maximize flavor while still minimizing the number of pans dirtied.
The Gourmet Cookbook
Edited by Ruth Reichl (Houghton Mifflin)
More than 1,000 elegant recipes for practically everything you’d ever want to make.
Parenting with Pride—Latino Style: How to Help Your Child Cherish Your Cultural Values and Succeed in Today’s World
Carmen Inoa Vazquez (Rayo)
For Latino parents, a primer on how to raise children biculturally, from an expert in the field.
Book that Deserved More:
The Philosopher’s Kitchen: Recipes from Ancient Greece and Rome for the Modern Cook
Francine Segan (Random)
The ancient Greeks and Romans invented everything from flipping a coin to make a decision, to the political filibuster. And, as food historian Segan shows, they invented many of our favorite dishes, too—or at least their predecessors. She wisely updates the ancient recipes so they appeal to modern palates and keeps to the spirit of history, too.
Following a slew of anthologies in the last three years, from Poets Against the War (Nation Books) to Old Glory (Persea), the following single-author books all directly and powerfully address the post 9/11-world, as poetry composition and publishing catch up with events.
Up to Speed
Rae Armantrout (Wesleyan)
The most dazzling poetic meditations on time and space of this century—wrapped rhetorical ephemera, bellicose and otherwise.
On the Ground
Fanny Howe (Graywolf)
Grapplings with intimacy as global in scope and consequence; good and evil not as justifications for action, but as things to know and act from.
Of Thee I Sing
Timothy Liu (Univ. of Georgia)
Intense male same-sex desire collides with painful self-scrutiny, political protest and snapshots of far-flung America.
The School Among the Ruins
Adrienne Rich (Norton)
The frustrations, responsibilities, dangers and wonders of citizenship.
To Leveling Swerve
Rodrigo Toscano (Krupskaya)
Accessible velocity and impassioned, dramatic advocacy pitched against the uneven development of states and minds.
Spirit and Flesh: Life in a Fundamentalist Baptist Church
James M. Ault, Jr. (Knopf)
Ault masterfully combines narrative with careful, and frequently groundbreaking, analysis of America’s most conservative Christians.
Tortured Wonders: Christian Spirituality for People, Not Angels
Rodney Clapp (Brazos)
A poetic account of traditional spirituality, unapologetically borrowed from writers like the desert fathers, Augustine, and Luther, but enlivened with elegant writing and alert to the needs and challenges of contemporary life.
Killing the Buddha: A Heretic’s Bible
Peter Manseau and Jeff Sharlet (Free Press)
An original, insightful mixture of the authors’ travels through the underbelly of American religious culture and freshly imagined “books” of the Bible by Rick Moody, Peter Trachtenberg, Francine Prose and Haven Kimmel and others
The Reformation: A History
Diarmaid MacCulloch (Viking)
A wide-ranging, richly layered and magisterial book that should become the definitive history of the Reformation.
Re-Enchantment: Tibetan Buddhism Comes to the West
Jeffery Paine (Norton)
Memorable anecdotes, great storytelling and keen observations in a cogent exploration of the explosive growth of Tibetan Buddhism in the West.
Science and the Trinity: The Christian Encounter with Reality
John Polkinghorne (YaleUniv.)
A Cambridge physicist and Anglican priest’s exploration of “particularity,” a summons to “bottom-up thinking” that engages theology, science, and human experience in all their living detail.
American Judaism: A History
Jonathan D. Sarna (YaleUniv.)
The trials, tribulations and triumphs of American Jews from 1654 to the present, told in sprightly, fact-filled prose.