The Notable Books Council of the Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, selected these titles for their significant contribution to the expansion of knowledge or for the pleasure they can provide to adult readers.
F I C T I O N
Bainbridge, Beryl. Master Georgie. Carroll & Graf, $21.00 (ISBN: 0-7867-0563-9).
Questions of class and honor permeate this spare, elliptical story of Dr. George Hardy and his entourage, set in Victorian Liverpool and the Crimean War.
Cunningham, Michael. The Hours. Farrar, $23.00 (ISBN: 0-374-17289-7).
The stories of Virginia Woolf, a postwar housewife and a contemporary businesswoman, converge in this homage to Mrs. Dalloway.
Cusk, Rachel. The Country Life. St. Martin's/Picador, $24.00 (ISBN: 0-312-19848-5).
In this delightfully offbeat tale, Stella takes a job in the English countryside as companion to a disabled teenage boy and finds life anything but idyllic.
Doyle, Roddy. A Star Called Henry. Viking, $24.95 (ISBN: 0-670-88757-9).
This powerfully written, fast moving novel mythologizes the making and unmaking of an IRA terrorist in early twentieth-century Ireland.
Dubus, Andre. House of Sand and Fog. Norton, $25.95, (ISBN: 0-393-04697-4).
Dubus vividly relates how three people's disparate desires intertwine as their actions (and reactions) clash, forcing the stakes ever higher and inevitably leading to tragedy.
Englander, Nathan. For the Relief of Unbearable Urges. Knopf, $22.00 (ISBN: 0-375-40492-9).
Englander's ironic stories focus on Jewish characters balancing their personal needs with their religious obligations in a myriad of circumstances, settings, and moods.
Jin, Ha. Waiting. Pantheon, $24.00 (ISBN: 0-375-40653-0).
In beautifully unadorned prose, this novel focuses on the debilitating effect that a 17-year wait to marry has on a Chinese couple during the Cultural Revolution.
Johnston, Wayne. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams. Doubleday, $24.95 (ISBN: 0-385-49542-0).
Joe Smallwood, Newfoundland's larger-than-life first premier, and Sheilagh Fielding, the love of his life, alternate telling their own and their province's tragicomic histories.
Just, Ward. A Dangerous Friend. Houghton, $23.00 (ISBN: 0-395-85698-1).
America's arrogance and naivete‚ toward Vietnam is mirrored in the experiences of Sydney Parade, who arrives in Vietnam as an adviser in 1965.
Lee, Chang-rae. A Gesture Life. Riverhead, $23.95 (1-57322-146-5).
"Doc" Hata's past as a Japanese army medic in World War II haunts his quiet suburban life in the United States.
Letham, Jonathan. Motherless Brooklyn. Doubleday, $23.95 (ISBN: 0-385-49183-2).
Lionel Essrog's Tourettic verbal pyrotechnics do not deter him from finding redemption and self-understanding on the mean streets of Brooklyn.
Reuss, Frederick. Henry of Atlantic City. MacMurry & Beck, $22.00 (1-878448-89-7). A lonely six-year-old with a photographic memory of the Gnostic Gospels melds his life growing up in Caesar's Palace with the world of ancient Byzantium.
N O N F I C T I O N
Belkin, Lisa. Show Me a Hero: A Tale of Murder, Suicide, Race and Redemption. Little, Brown, $25.00 (ISBN: 0-316-08805-6).
This gripping story traces the events in Yonkers, New York, when a federal judge forced the city to integrate housing in 1988.
Bowden, Mark. Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War. Atlantic Monthly, $24.00 (ISBN: 0-87113-738-0).
This relentlessly paced reconstruction of the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia exposes in horrifying detail the murkiness of war and the dangers of reliance on fragile military technology.
Dower, John. Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II. Norton, $29.95 (ISBN: 0-393-04686-9).
Told from the Japanese perspective and meticulously researched, this is a profound and enlightening history of postwar occupied Japan.
Greene, Brian. The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. Norton, $27.95 (ISBN: 0-393-04688-5).
Through elegant and concise explorations of relativity, quantum mechanics, and the grandly unifying string theory, Greene provides a guidebook to the edge of science.
Hirsch, Edward. How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry. Harcourt, $23.00 (ISBN: 0-15-100419-6).
With this joyful and exuberant invitation to the wonders of verse, Hirsch opens the portals of poetry, urging us inside to enjoy.
Klemperer, Victor. I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years, 1933–1941. Random, $29.95 (ISBN: 0-679-45696-1).
Klemperer provides a fascinating self-portrait and unique account of the daily evolving horror of Nazi Germany.
Kluger, Jeffrey. Journey beyond Selene: Remarkable Expeditions Past Our Moon and to the Ends of the Solar System. Simon & Schuster, $26.00 (ISBN: 0-684-84765-5).
In a lively fashion, Kluger profiles the scientists of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as they planned missions to explore outer space.
Orlean, Susan. The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession. Random, $25.00 (ISBN: 0-679-44739-3).
In examining the life of orchid thief John Laroche, Orlean explores Florida history, botany, Victorian travelers, and the collecting mania.
Raban, Jonathan. Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings. Pantheon, $26.50 (ISBN: 0-679-44262-6).
Sailing solo from Seattle to Juneau, Raban embarks on a voyage of maritime adventure and personal discovery.
Remnick, David. King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero. Random, $25.00 (ISBN: 0-375-50065-0).
Remnick describes the transformation of Cassius Clay into Muhammad Ali against the backdrop of 1960s racial politics and the world of boxing.
Rybczynski, Witold. A Clearing in the Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the Nineteenth Century. Scribner, $28.00 (ISBN: 0-684-82463-9).
Rybczynski pays tribute to the greatest American landscape architect of the nineteenth century, a visionary designer of many of the beautiful public spaces we enjoy today.
Schiff, Stacy. Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov). Random, $27.95 (ISBN: 0-679-44790-3).
This is an elegantly nuanced portrait of Nabokov's wife, who made a career as her husband's intellectual companion, business liaison, and muse.
P O E T R Y
Heaney, Seamus. Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966–1996. Farrar, $25.00 (ISBN: 0-374-23517-1).
A love and respect for the Irish land resonates throughout these exquisite poems drawn from over 30 years of work.
Seyburn, Patty. Diasporadic. Helicon Nine Editions, paper, $9.95 (ISBN: 1-884235-26-3).
With a fine grasp of language, a poet at the beginning of her career reflects on history, events, and daily details that make us human.