It's the end of the year—almost. A time for reflection, before the resolutions of 2008 send us all scrambling once again. So what did we read this year that kept us up at night, broke our hearts, opened our minds, made us fall in love? Three thousand books are published daily in the U.S., and PW reviewed more than 6,000 of them in 2007, in print and online. From that astounding number, we've culled a best books list covering our favorites in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, comics, religion, lifestyle and children's—150 in all. Some we've selected, such as Tree of Smoke, Fieldwork, Brother, I'm Dying and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, are up for National Book Awards; others have been blessed by Oprah (The Secret) or are a testament to DNA (Heart-Shaped Box). Some made us think about the music of the past (Can't Buy Me Love; Coltrane) or shiver in our boots (Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA); some, to paraphrase Kafka, just broke that frozen sea inside us.
Call Me by Your Name
André Aciman (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
This tender, gay coming-of-age novel set in an Italian palazzo exquisitely renders first love on the Riviera.
Mischa Berlinski (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
This first novel about an anthropology student in northern Thailand who “goes native” has it all: story, mystery characters, suspense, resolution.
The Savage Detectives
Roberto Bolaño (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Chilean-born novelist Bolaño (1953—2003), beautifully translated by Natasha Wimmer, deliriously tracks Mexico City poets Arturo Belano (Bolaño's alter ego) and Ulysses Lima as they travel the globe over 20-plus years.
The Tin Roof Blowdown
James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster)
Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath provide the backdrop for an account of sin and redemption in New Orleans in Burke's 16th Dave Robicheaux novel.
Don DeLillo (Scribner)
DeLillo's 9/11 novel captures with breathtaking force the numbness and inchoate rage that followed the attacks.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Junot Díaz (Riverhead)
Díaz's fierce, funny and tragic first novel, starring a sci-fi-and-fantasy—gobbling nerd-hero, is just what readers have held out for since Drown.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Mohsin Hamid (Harcourt)
Hamid's intelligent war on terror novel is written from the perspective of a young Pakistani whose sympathies, despite his fervid immigrant embrace of America, lie with the attackers.
Returning to Earth
Jim Harrison (Grove)
This gorgeous novel of an early death spirals into a wrenching saga set in Upper Michigan, as grief grips a family.
The Chicago Way
Michael Harvey (Knopf)
Harvey's debut thriller spins a twisted story in which the line between cops and criminals becomes dangerously blurred; the author combines the sardonic wit of Chandler with the gritty violence of Lehane's Kenzie and Gennaro series.
Joe Hill (Morrow)
A particularly merciless ghost goes on the rampage in this debut supernatural thriller from the son of Stephen King.
The Archivist's Story
Travis Holland (Dial)
Set in 1939 Moscow, the story of a disgraced literature professor who's in charge of destroying anti-Soviet writings and decides to save an unfinished manuscript of Isaac Babel's captures the mood and realities of life in Soviet Russia.
Body of Lies
David Ignatius (Norton)
One of the best post-9/11 thrillers yet, this highly elaborate novel tells the story of an idealistic CIA officer stationed in Jordan after being wounded in Iraq.
Tree of Smoke
Denis Johnson (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Is it the ultimate Vietnam novel? Very likely. A terrifying epic that revolves around a murky intelligence operation.
Bowl of Cherries
Millard Kaufman (McSweeney's)
The bawdy, original coming-of-age debut from the nonagenarian creator of Mr. Magoo has a delicious screwball sensibility.
What the Dead Know
Laura Lippman (Morrow)
In this outstanding stand-alone thriller, a driver who flees a car accident breathes new life into a 30-year-old mystery—the disappearance of two young sisters at a shopping mall—when she tells the police she's one of the missing girls.
The Complete Stories
David Malouf (Pantheon)
Australia's stark landscapes are at the harsh, violent center of a career's worth of Malouf's fictions, where relationships enter uncharted territory.
Nathan McCall (Atria)
White people gentrify Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward—Martin Luther King Jr.'s parish—and things get very complicated and very ugly as real estate prices skyrocket along with tempers and resentments.
Tom McCarthy (Vintage)
In McCarthy's haunting fiction debut, a semi-amnesiac London everyman uses newfound wealth to re-enact his memories in exacting detail.
Be Near Me
Andrew O'Hagan (Harcourt)
A priest's tumultuous, late-career assumption of a Scottish parish yields a surprising love story with emotional resonance and intellectual power to spare, laying bare a lifetime's worth of compromise.
Jonathan Raban (Pantheon)
An air of suspenseful dread hangs over every page of this intelligent, provocative thriller, set in Seattle.
Matthew Sharpe (Soft Skull)
A warped piece of American deadpan, Sharpe's postapocalyptic reimagining of the Jamestown settlement is a tour-de-force of black humor.
The Secret Servant
Daniel Silva (Putnam)
In Silva's superlative seventh novel to feature Gabriel Allon, the Israeli intelligence agent looks into the assassination of a professor in Amsterdam who's a secret Israeli asset.
Karin Slaughter (Delacorte)
The unflinching portrayal of lives ruined by methamphetamine makes the latest in Slaughter's Grant County, Ga., crime series a timely and unsettling read.
White Walls: Collected Stories
Tatyana Tolstaya (NYRB)
Beautiful, imaginative and disconcerting, the Russia of Tolstoy's great-grandniece is a labyrinth of eras, treasures and horrors: past and present, shabby and brutal, magical and otherworldly.
The Shadow Catcher
Marianne Wiggins (Simon & Schuster)
A magnificently Sebald-like approach to fictionalizing the life of photographer Edward Sheriff Curtis (1868—1952)—along with that of a woman named “Marianne Wiggins”—is suffused with crackling social commentary and breezy self-discovery.
Rae Armantrout (Wesleyan)
A veteran experimentalist and pioneering language poet, Armantrout cements her status as an important if oblique moral voice in this mature collection.
Mary Jo Bang (Graywolf)
Bang wrote this powerfully moving investigation of grief in the year after her adult son's death.
Time and Materials
Robert Hass (Ecco)
Former poet laureate Hass's first book in a decade finds him meditating on the grim state of the environment and humanity's self-destructive tendencies.
The Collected Poems
Zbigniew Herbert (Ecco)
The late Polish master made myths of the shards of a ravaged century. Finally, all of his work is available to English readers in one volume.
Green and Gray
Geoffrey G. O'Brien (Univ. of California)
A rising star and a uniquely subtle voice, O'Brien has crafted poems that both take a long view of American capitalism and scrutinize the ways words interact.
Songs of Innocence
Richard Aleas (Hard Case)
A former PI looks into the apparent suicide of his troubled female friend in this contemporary noir; Aleas (pen name for Charles Ardai) channels the pulps with crisp prose, a grim plot line, and a pitch-black conclusion.
The Cloud of Unknowing
Thomas Cook (Harcourt/Penzler)
In the beginning it's unclear if a crime occurred at all, then it appears that there was not just one murder but two, three or even four in this unusual, chilling mystery from Edgar-winner Cook.
American Detective: An Amos Walker Mystery
Loren D. Estleman (Forge)
Estleman's prose is as gritty and compelling as ever as he lets fly razor-sharp dialogue, brings the Motor City to life and combines a whodunit plot with traditional noir action.
Michael Norman (Poisoned Pen)
This impressive debut from a criminal justice professor and former lawman—in which the chairman of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole is gunned down execution-style in his driveway—exudes verisimilitude from start to finish.
The Collaborator of Bethlehem
Matt Benyon Rees (Soho Crime)
This powerful first novel from a British journalist humanizes the struggle over the West Bank through an unlikely detective, a 56-year-old Palestinian teacher in a refugee camp.
The Water's Lovely
Ruth Rendell (Crown)
In this taut and enticing stand-alone from three-time Edgar winner Rendell, in which several sociopaths prey on a vulnerable family, the plot twists reach all the way to the last page.
The Snow Empress
Laura Joh Rowland (St. Martin's Minotaur)
Compelling pacing and well-rounded characters enhance the 12th entry in this consistently excellent series set in 17th-century Japan.
Person of Interest
Theresa Schwegel (St. Martin's Minotaur)
Cops, criminals and neglected families collide with disastrous results in Edgar-winner Schwegel's intense third novel.
D.J. Taylor (HarperCollins)
The abduction of a disturbed heiress propels this multilayered tour-de-force set in 1860s England.
Edited by Ellen Datlow (Tor)
Datlow offers a state-of-the-art anthology of 20 new stories by some of horror fiction's best and brightest.
David Anthony Durham (Doubleday)
In this vividly imagined fantasy, a historical novelist chronicles the downfall and reinvention of an empire built on conquest, slaving and drug trade.
Ilario: The Lion's Eye
Mary Gentle (Eos)
Set in an alternative medieval world in which Carthage has survived to become a mighty power, this impressive first in a new fantasy series introduces an unusual protagonist, a hermaphrodite.
In War Times
Kathleen Ann Goonan (Tor)
This engaging alternate-universe yarn charts the career of an amateur saxophonist and soldier during WWII while raising the question: can technology be prevented from doing as much evil as good?
Bright of the Sky: Book One of Entire and the Rose
Kay Kenyon (Pyr)
Deft prose, high-stakes suspense and skilled, thorough world building lift this first in a new far-future SF series involving a mishap in interstellar space that sends a family into a parallel universe.
The Name of the Wind: Book One
Patrick Rothfuss (DAW)
Set in an unnamed imaginary world, this outstanding debut fantasy chronicles the formative years of an orphan boy who starts his career as an actor in a traveling troupe of magicians, jugglers and jesters.
The Winds of Marble Arch
Connie Willis (Subterranean)
Willis makes brilliant short fiction look easy in this collection of 23 novellas and short stories, which display a powerful range of sensibility, from poignant tenderness and heartbreak to close-to-the-bone satire and blackest savagery.
Twice the Temptation
Suzanne Enoch (Avon)
This double feature concerns one couple in 1814, one couple in 2007 (Enoch's popular Billionaire series leads) and the cursed diamond they're all mixed up with; crisp dialogue, smart characters and brisk plotting throughout.
The Perfect Bride
Brenda Joyce (HQN)
Joyce's seventh de Warenne novel is a first-rate Regency with deliciously damaged leads; fluff-free, Joyce's tight plot and vivid cast make for a romance that's just about perfect.
Liz Maverick (Dorchester/Shomi)
Told by a sassy female computer programmer pursued by two strange men with the power to alter reality, this suprising mashup of romance and cyberpunk may be the blueprint for romance's next generation.
One with the Shadows
Susan Squires (St. Martin's)
With a mischievous leading lady and a mannered but offbeat vampire mythos, this 1820s paranormal is so solid and subtle, it may convert devotees of traditional historicals.
The Winter Lodge
Susan Wiggs (Mira)
Complicated, flesh-and-blood characters inhabit Wiggs's idyllic but identifiable Lakeshore Chronicles, weaving a refreshingly honest smalltown tapestry of romance, domestic drama, mystery and generations-old Polish recipes.
Adrian Tomine (Drawn & Quarterly)
A lacerating, falling-out-of-love story that profiles Ben Tanaka, a crabby know-it-all with an eye for white girls; his Asian-American activist girlfriend Miko; and the dissolution of their relationship.
Alice in Sunderland
Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse)
The history of Sunderland, an obscure British city and a haunt of Lewis Carroll's, provides the metaphor for a dizzying survey of the ways ideas and people have connected over the centuries.
Rutu Modan (Drawn & Quarterly)
While searching for his father, a young Israeli taxi driver discovers unexpected truths about himself and contemporary Israel.
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (DC)
A glorious postmodern return to what made Superman super, as the man from Krypton deals with supernovas and his own conventions.
I Killed Adolf Hitler
Hard-boiled hit men, a time machine and a quest to save the world add up to a story about the permanence of love in this darkly humorous tale.
Nick Abadzis (Roaring Brook/First Second)
The story of the first dog in space is a known tragedy, here rendered with an eye to historic fact and without sentimentality.
Nick Bertozzi (St. Martin's)
A period fantasy involving Picasso, Braque, Satie, Gertrude Stein and a potent brand of absinthe offers a dizzying tour de force of art styles.
Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie (Drawn & Quarterly)
The charming story of a smart teenage girl and her boy-crazy friends, set in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, during a period of peace in the 1970s.
Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together
Bryan Lee O'Malley (Oni)
Our slacker hero is still playing in a band, still dating the mysterious Ramona Flowers—and dealing with her seven evil ex-boyfriends—but he decides to get a job!
Tekkonkinkreet: Black & White
Taiyo Matsumoto (Viz)
Two street urchins—one called Black and the other White—with unusual powers take on the police, the yakuza and the citizens of Treasure Town in this poignant, experimentalist manga.
Osamu Tezuka (Vertical)
A young boy who survives a horrific military accident develops into both a powerful businessman and a warped murderous psychopath in an exploration of the modern reality of evil.
MPD-Psycho, Volume 1
Eiji Otsuka and Sho-u Tajima (Dark Horse)
A police detective tracking a serial killer descends into multiple-personality syndrome after his wife is found murdered and mutilated in this psychologically disturbing manga.
The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943—1944
Rick Atkinson (Holt)
Atkinson surpasses his Pulitzer-winning An Army at Dawn with this empathetic, perceptive analysis of the second stage in the U.S. Army's grassroots development into the most formidable fighting force of WWII.
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
Ishmael Beah (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
This absorbing account by a young man who, as a boy of 12, gets swept up in Sierra Leone's civil war surpasses the best journalistic efforts in revealing the life and mind of a child abducted into the horrors of warfare.
The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648—1815
Tim Blanning (Viking)
Blanning splendidly blends political events with social and intellectual history to trace the emergence of Europe as we know it today.
Photo by Sammy Davis Jr.
Burt Boyar (HarperEntertainment)
Davis biographer Boyar offers this collection of beautiful archival snapshots taken by Sammy Davis Jr., beginning in the early 1950s.
Brother, I'm Dying
Edwidge Danticat (Knopf)
Danticat's memoir recalls how a family adapted and reorganized itself over and over, enduring and succeeding to remain kindred in spite of living apart.
The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939—1945
Saul Friedländer (HarperCollins)
Integrating a wide-angle history with closeups of individual Jewish lives, Friedländer completes his masterly history of the Holocaust.
Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America
Jonathan Gould (Harmony)
Page after page, you can hear the music as Gould's deft hand makes the book sing—this is music writing at its best.
Steve Grody (Abrams)
A 17-year effort, this stunning, definitive examination of Los Angeles street art details all aspects of the still-illegal form with 900 gorgeous photographs, testimony from a double-handful of artists and additional material on an included CD-ROM.
How Doctors Think
Jerome Groopman (Houghton)
This could be the most important book on medicine you will ever read, analyzing why doctors misdiagnose—and how to help them get it right.
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Naomi Klein (Holt/Metropolitan)
The economic policies—privatization, free trade, slashed social spending—of the “Chicago School” and Milton Friedman are catastrophic, argues this vigorous polemic that demonstrates how free-market ideologues both welcome and provoke the collapse of other people's economies.
The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts
Milan Kundera (HarperCollins)
The great novelist offers a remarkably concise history of the novel, arguing that we must tear away “the curtain of preinterpretation” to experience a work's truth.
The Atomic Bazaar: The Rise of the Nuclear Poor
William Langewiesche (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
World nuclearization “has become the human condition,” Langewiesche warns in this brief, tightly packed study that precisely defines an issue worthy of being at the forefront of our international policy.
Hermione Lee (Knopf)
Lee illuminates the dark corners of Wharton's life while examining this complex woman's contradictory values and impulses.
First Class Citizenship: The Civil Rights Letters of Jackie Robinson
Edited by Michael G. Long (Times)
Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's color-barrier—breaking entry into major league baseball, this absorbing collection of letters reveals new facets of the icon's private nature.
Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle over Global Warming
Chris Mooney (Harcourt)
Having witnessed Katrina's devastation of his mother's New Orleans house, science writer Mooney explores “whether global warming will strengthen or otherwise change hurricanes in general.”
Coltrane: The Story of a Sound
Ben Ratliff (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Always going past the legend to focus on the real-life stories and the actual recordings of this great jazz saxophonist, Ratliff's assessment is a model for music criticism.
The Baby Thief: The Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby Seller Who Corrupted Adoption
Barbara Bisantz Raymond (Carroll & Graf)
Freelance writer (and adoptive mom) Raymond looks at the life and legacy of the little-remembered orphanage director Georgia Tann, a corrupt but nationally lauded figure whose whose adoption policies are still followed today; the book is a rigorous page-turner.
Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race
Richard Rhodes (Knopf)
This third volume in a history of nuclear weaponry, admirable for its research, might also be described as a chronicle of the unmaking of the arms race.
The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography from the Revolution to the First World War
Graham Robb (Norton)
The French provinces were once a foreign country to Parisians, intimately rendered by Robb in all their strange fascination.
The Door of No Return: The History of Cape Coast Castle and the Atlantic Slave Trade
William St Clair (BlueBridge)
Culled from previously unexplored papers in the British National Archives, this gripping history describes the British headquarters at Ghana's Cape Coast Castle, the “last look” point for more than three million sold into the 17th-century slave trade.
Touch and Go: A Memoir
Studs Terkel (New Press)
The legendary interviewer turns the microphone inwards in this wonderful memoir—a fitting portrait of a man who seeks truth with compassion, intelligence, moxie and panache.
Shadow of the Silk Road
Colin Thubron (HarperCollins)
In his latest absorbing travel epic, Thubron follows the course of the ancient network of trade routes that connected central China with the Mediterranean coast.
William T. Vollmann (Ecco)
Varied responses to the question “Why are you poor?” fuel this meditation on the nature of poverty by National Book Award—winning novelist and journalist Vollmann.
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
Tim Weiner (Doubleday)
Weiner's comprehensive survey is a damning indictment of American intelligence policy that identifies the persistent problems that plague the CIA.
Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain
Maryanne Wolf (HarperCollins)
Child development professor Wolf maintains the tone of a curious, erudite friend as she synthesizes cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research—psychology and archeology, linguistics and education, history and neuroscience—in a pathbreaking look at the reading brain.
After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion
Robert Wuthnow (Princeton)
Wuthnow amasses and analyzes a vast amount of data on the religious lives of young Americans, arguing that society often leaves this group to fend for itself.
American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion
Paul M. Barrett (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
In a fascinating study, Barrett puts a human face on issues dividing American Muslims today.
Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy
Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt and David L. Weaver-Zercher (Jossey-Bass)
This surprising, compassionate book moves beyond the tragedy at Nickel Mines, Pa., to explore the historical and theological reasons why the Amish chose to forgive the school shooter.
Caring for Mother: A Daughter's Long Good-Bye
Virginia Stem Owens (Westminster John Knox)
This beautiful memoir describes the last seven years of Owens's mother's life and how she slid into dementia.
Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite
D. Michael Lindsay (Oxford)
Lindsay painstakingly examines how evangelicals ascended to political, intellectual, cultural and economic influence in America over the past two decades.
How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture, Then and Now
James Kugel (Free Press)
Kugel's tour de force of biblical scholarship juxtaposes ancient biblical interpretations with modern historical-critical approaches.
The Integral Vision: A Very Short Introduction to the Revolutionary Integral Approach to Life, God, the Universe and Everything
Ken Wilber (Shambhala)
Wilber presents an “integral map” of human experience for spiritual growth, drawn from developmental psychology and Eastern religion.
A Jesuit Off-Broadway: Center Stage with Jesus, Judas, and Life's Big Questions
James Martin (Loyola)
Martin uses his experiences as the theological adviser to an off-Broadway play to gain insights into the gospel story and the character of Judas the betrayer.
The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus
Amy-Jill Levine (HarperOne)
Levine builds a strong and convincing case for viewing Jesus as “a Jew speaking to Jews,” and for understanding the Jewish origins of Christianity.
Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know
Stephen Prothero (HarperOne)
Prothero diagnoses the problem of religious illiteracy and ignorance in the United States, then outlines controversial steps to address the deficiency.
A Secular Age
Charles Taylor (Harvard)
This brilliant history of the emergence of secularity in the 18th and 19th centuries concludes that a focus on religion has never been lost in Western culture.
Sex God: Exploring the EndlessConnections Between Sexuality and Spirituality
Rob Bell (Zondervan)
Edgy evangelical leader Bell explores what the Bible says about sex and God, and how humans mirror God.
The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics, and the Modern West
Mark Lilla (Knopf)
In one of the best-ever books on religion and politics, Lilla dissects the dangers of fundamentalism on the one hand and the failings of liberal theology on the other.
Sunday: A History of the First Day from Babylonia to the Superbowl
Craig Harline (Doubleday)
Harline offers a fascinating exploration of the Christian Sabbath as practiced in 17th-century Holland, medieval England, fin-de-siècle Paris and 1950s America, among others.
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible
A.J. Jacobs (Simon & Schuster)
This hilarious, quixotic rumination on the perils of biblical literalism chronicles one New Yorker's mission to live the Bible's commandments for a full year.
Feeling for Bones
Bethany Pierce (Moody)
Pierce's lush debut novel is a tale of faith and love, as a family starts over when a scandal causes the father to lose his position as pastor of his church.
Lisa Samson (Thomas Nelson)
Samson's unflinching novel charts the awakening of a woman's social conscience as she struggles with the ways her affluence keeps her from doing God's will.
Steven Cleaver (Paraclete)
Cleaver's offbeat, whimsical debut novel crosses the prophet Job with It's a Wonderful Life and shakes up the whole notion of faith fiction.
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
Mark Bittman (Wiley)
Marking how mainstream vegetarian cooking has become, the next must-have for the vegetarian cook's shelf comes from New York Times Minimalist chef Bittman, an avowed meat eater.
Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen
Gina DePalma (Norton)
In this superb dessert book, DePalma, pastry chef at New York City's Babbo, approaches Italian-American desserts from three directions: traditional Italian, Italian-American and American-Italian.
Made in Italy: Food and Stories
Giorgio Locatelli (Ecco)
This is an impressive achievement, marking Locatelli as a major talent, comparable to Marcella Hazan in his ability to explain Italian cooking
How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table
Russ Parsons (Houghton Mifflin)
Equal parts cookbook, agricultural history, chemistry lesson and produce-buying guide, this densely packed book is a food-lover's delight.
Pork and Sons
Stéphane Reynaud (Phaidon)
This delightful, affectionate homage to the pig is a blend of cookbook and travel guide, celebrating the porcine and the bounty pigs provide.
You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty
Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz (Free Press)
In their newest in the bestselling You series, physicians Oz and Roizen explain why the body ages and how readers can master their genes, bad habits, environmental pollution and stress while igniting the body's ability to stay fit, strong and healthy.
Practical Wisdom for Parents: Demystifying the Preschool Years
Nancy Schulman and Ellen Birnbaum (Knopf)
Early childhood educators Schulman and Birnbaum have distilled their extensive knowledge to create this indispensable primer for parents of preschoolers.
A Twist of the Wrist: Quick Flavorful Meals with Ingredients from Jars, Cans, Bags, and Boxes
Nancy Silverton (Knopf)
In this beautifully illustrated book, renowned Los Angeles baker and chef Silverton uses premium prepared ingredients as shortcuts to ease the home-cooking time crunch.
The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution
Alice Waters (Clarkson N. Potter)
The delicious dishes described in the latest cookbook from Chez Panisse founder Waters continue to prove her one of our best modern-day food writers.
Children's Picture Books
Jon Agee (Hyperion)
Chic shoppers vie to buy the latest “nothing” in this wry, expertly controlled spin on The Emperor's New Clothes.
Jonathan Bean (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Lush rhythms, both visual and verbal, turn a wisp of a plot, about a girl's difficulty falling asleep in her urban house, into an exemplary bedtime book.
Mother Goose Numbers on the Loose
Leo and Diane Dillon (Harcourt)
Personified numerals join hands with elaborately costumed characters in this inventive, visually dazzling interpretation of favorite nursery rhymes that feature numbers.
Orange Pear Apple Bear
Emily Gravett (Simon & Schuster)
Gravett uses just the four words of the title (with a fifth for the punch line) and her virtually iconic watercolors both to tell a story and to juggle a series of visual tricks.
1 2 3: A Child's First Counting Book
Alison Jay (Dutton)
Fairy-tale figures conduct readers on a journey from the numbers one to 10 and back again; Jay's crackle-glazed paintings feel like missives from a world where it's Once Upon a Time 24/7.
Tuttle's Red Barn: The Story ofAmerica's Oldest Family Farm
Richard Michelson, illus. by Mary Azarian (Putnam)
The hand-crafted aesthetic of Azarian's tinted woodcuts emphasizes the value of tradition in this view of American history as experienced by 12 generations of a New Hampshire farm family.
Dog and Bear: Two Friends Three Stories
Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Roaring Brook/Porter)
A dachshund and a teddy bear serve as protagonists in three simple stories so true that the conclusions seem inevitable even as they take readers by surprise.
David Ezra Stein (Putnam)
Related with jewel-like simplicity, a bear cub's feelings of friendship toward the leaves of trees on his tiny island teach him about the seasons.
The Apple Pie That Papa Baked
Lauren Thompson, illus. by Jonathan Bean (Simon & Schuster)
Text and three-color art pay exuberant homage to classic children's books in the tradition of Virginia Lee Burton and Wanda Gág.
Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity
Mo Willems (Hyperion)
Willems reprises the illustration style of Knuffle Bunny in a sympathetic sequel, where the stuffed bunny becomes a surprise vehicle for a new friendship.
The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio
Lloyd Alexander (Holt)
This posthumously published fantasy/adventure telescopes the themes of Alexander's landmark Prydain Chronicles into a single potent volume.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Sherman Alexie, illus. by Ellen Forney
Boosted by the “narrator's” witty cartoons, Alexie's semiautobiographical novel relies on jazzy syntax and outrageous jokes to throw serious themes about adolescence on an Indian reservation into high relief.
The Sweet Far Thing
Libba Bray (Delacorte)
Bray critiques Victorian society in this far-ranging gothic fantasy, a triumphant conclusion of the trilogy begun in A Great and Terrible Beauty.
Martha Brooks (FSG/Kroupa)
Secrets overshadow three generations of women in this taut, keenly observed novel about the complexities of family and love.
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You
Peter Cameron (FSG/Foster)
With its off-balance marriage of the hilarious and the tragic, Cameron's YA debut holds readers in the grip of its narrator, a desperately alienated, hyper-articulate 18-year-old Manhattanite.
Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party
Ying Chang Compestine (Holt)
Set during China's Cultural Revolution, this autobiographical novel about the daughter of educated parents makes a lasting impact through its tightly focused narrative and finely nuanced characters.
Elijah of Buxton
Christopher Paul Curtis (Scholastic)
Using the witty vernacular of an 11-year-old freeborn boy, Curtis brings together an arresting historical setting (a real-life haven for runaway slaves in mid-19th-century Canada) and physical comedy before launching a plot that changes the tenor of the novel from folksy to harrowing.
A Swift Pure Cry
Siobhan Dowd (Random/Fickling)
The late Dowd's stirring debut follows an Irish teen's struggles in the wake of her mother's death and a disturbing murder in her close-knit community.
Before I Die
Jenny Downham (Random/Fickling)
This British debut breaks the mold of books about eloquent dying teens; Downham holds nothing back as her narrator determines to spend her final months living to the fullest.
Catherine Jinks (Harcourt)
A web of criminal machinations infiltrates every aspect of an impossibly brilliant boy's life in this thoroughly entertaining and engrossing novel.
Bone by Bone by Bone
Tony Johnston (Roaring Brook/Brodie)
Johnston refuses to sacrifice the humanity of any of her characters in this explosive tale about race and racism in 1950s small-town Tennessee, powerfully couched in unobtrusively lyrical prose.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Jeff Kinney (Abrams/Amulet)
Kinney's uproarious “novel in cartoons” captures the myriad traumas of junior high existence, as conveyed in the deadpan journal of protagonist Greg Heffley.
Margo Lanagan (Knopf)
Rarely do YA readers find such uniformly strong short fiction as in Lanagan's dark and provocative fantasy collection of 10 stories, striking for their beautiful, quirky language and deep psychological insight.
Derek Landy (HarperCollins)
As they combat evil forces, this witty, action-packed debut's lead characters—a girl with a proclivity for magic and a well-dressed living skeleton—trade repartee that recalls Hepburn and Tracy in its ongoing, affectionate contest of verbal one-upmanship.
Francine Prose (HarperTeen)
Connecting grief, rage and violence, this masterfully controlled novel set at an elite private school dissects the unspoken dynamics between bullies and their intended victims.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
J.K. Rowling (Scholastic/Levine)
Anticipated ever since Harry Potter first appeared back in 1997, this massive conclusion to the singular series resolves once and for all the fates of its addictively entertaining cast.
The Wednesday Wars
Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion)
Schmidt adeptly evokes the tensions of the Vietnam era in this alternately humorous and poignant coming-of-age story of a Long Island seventh-grader, supported by a fully dimensional cast.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Brian Selznick (Scholastic Press)
Selznick crafts a sumptuous epic about a Parisian orphan, a mysterious automaton and the earliest beginnings of cinema, expertly using lengthy sequences of charcoal drawings to evoke the highly visual medium of film.
Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree
Lauren Tarshis (Dial)
Über-logical Emma-Jean regards her fellow seventh-graders with bemused scientific detachment in this winning comedy of manners.
The New Policeman
Kate Thompson (Greenwillow)
Nifty plotting, involving irregularities in the passage of time, mines a rich vein of Irish faerie lore and magic for this meditation on the losses brought by modernization.
Long May She Reign
Ellen Emerson White (Feiwel & Friends)
A crisply authoritative first-person narration and a gritty plot line shot through with glimmers of fiercest hope make this lengthy fourth installment of the President's Daughter series a novel to luxuriate in.
Steve Jenkins (Houghton)
Showcasing Jenkins's trademark detailed cut-paper collages, this stunning primer on both animals and colors imaginatively depicts more than 60 creatures.
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain
Peter Sís (FSG/Foster)
Sís's art was his salvation during his youth in Cold War—era Prague; he uses it flawlessly in this gripping account of his path to freedom.
Shaun Tan (Scholastic/Levine)
This startling wordless tale chronicles an immigrant's attempt to build a new life through lush, sepia-toned illustrations of an enigmatic alternate universe.
Sara Varon (Roaring Brook/First Second)
Dog, Robot and other mute creatures suffer all-too-human ordeals in this elegiac story of friendship, loss and forgiveness.