Notable Books for 2004
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
Ali, Monica, Brick Lane, Scribner (ISBN: 0743243307).
This engaging first novel tells the story of a sympathetic Bangladesh woman who challenges her fate and imagines a life full of passion and purpose.
Antunes, Antonio Lobo, The Inquisitor's Manual, Grove/Atlantic (ISBN: 0-8021-1732-5).
Using stream of consciousness, Antunes gets to the heart and soul of the depravity of Portugal's Salazar dictatorship through the lives that were affected.
Boyd, William, Any Human Heart, Random/Knopf (ISBN: 0-375-41493-2).
The diary of a writer, spy, and lover takes the reader on an amazing and intimate journey through the major events of the twentieth century.
Carey, Edward, Alva and Irva: The Twins Who Saved a City, Harcourt (ISBN: 0-1510-0782-9)
The magical city of Entralla inspires the fantastic genius of a set of twins, who heal their devastated world through plasticine miniatures.
Casares, Oscar, Brownsville: Stories, Little Brown (ISBN: 0-316-14680-3).
Brownsville is a deceptively quiet border town where lives play out at an emotionally steady pace, but Casares' stories follow dreams that give people new directions.
Haddon, Mark, Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Random/Doubleday (ISBN: 0-385-50945-6).
A teenage autistic savant narrates his search for the killer of his neighbor's dog, which leads to discoveries about his own life.
Hosseini, Khaled, The Kite Runner, Penguin/Riverhead (ISBN: 1573222453).
The boyhood friendship of social opposites and the strong father-son relationship of two Afghan émigrés form the heart of this story of Afghanistan at peace and war.
Jones, Edward P., The Known World, Armistad (ISBN: 0060557540).
Slavery, a cancer that takes many forms, is the source of complex relationships in this story of black slaveholders in antebellum Virginia.
Lethem, Jonathan, The Fortress of Solitude, Random/Doubleday (ISBN: 0-385-50069-6).
Life is hell for Dylan, a white kid in a rundown Brooklyn neighborhood, until he makes friends with Mingus, the son of an addicted R & B star.
Morrison, Toni, Love, Random/Knopf (ISBN: 0-375-40944-0).
Past and present rivalries dominate this haunting tale of the feuding women connected to the late owner of a once-flourishing hotel for the black elite.
O'Connor, Joseph, Star of the Sea, Harcourt (ISBN: 0-1510-0908-2).
Danger, regret, and hope lurk on every deck, from steerage to first class, of an 1847 ship full of Irish immigrants desperate for a new life in America.
Packer, ZZ, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, Penguin/Riverhead (ISBN: 1-57322-234-8).
In Packer's first collection of short stories, about the African American experience, misfits living on the fringes of society face life-altering choices.
N O N F I C T I O N
Boyd, Valerie, Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston, Scribner (ISBN: 0-684-84230-0).
The famous Harlem Renaissance writer and folklorist is portrayed in a spirited biography spiced with quotes from her work.
Faderman, Lillian, Naked in the Promised Land: A Memoir, Houghton Mifflin (ISBN: 0-618-12875-1).
Lillian Faderman, renowned lesbian feminist, passionately recalls her unique journey from immigrant's daughter to model and stripper to women's-studies scholar.
Hagedorn, Ann, Beyond the River, Simon and Schuster (ISBN: 0-684-87065-7).
This gripping history of nineteenth-century Ohio abolitionist families eschews myths and legends to expose the reality behind the Underground Railroad.
Hays, Sharon, Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform, Oxford University Press (ISBN: 0-1951-3288-2).
Hays clearly examines the persistent misconceptions and enduring realities of America's efforts at welfare reform since 1996.
Kidder, Tracy, Mountains Beyond Mountains, Random (ISBN: 0-375-50616-0).
Kidder draws an inspiring portrait of an American physician and medical educator who dedicated his life to serving the poor in Haiti and Peru and challenged world-health policies.
King, Ross, Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling, Walker and Company (ISBN: 0-8027-1395-5).
Sixteenth-century Italy comes alive in this vibrant account of a misanthropic genius and the artistic treasure he created.
Krakauer, Jon, Under the Banner of Heaven, Random/Doubleday (ISBN: 0-385-50951-0).
Krakauer examines the obscure world of Mormon fundamentalism, as well as violence that is rooted in religious beliefs taken to extremes.
LeBlanc, Adrian Nicole, Random Family: Love, Drugs, and Coming of Age in the Bronx, Scribner (ISBN: 0-6848-6387-1).
The circumscribed world of the Bronx urban poor is the subject of this compelling, often riveting, and always disturbing, authentic, and blunt firsthand exposé.
Pringle, Peter, Food Inc.: Mendel to Monsanto-The Promises and Perils of the Biotech Harvest, Simon and Schuster (ISBN: 0-7432-2611-9).
A journalist provides a balanced and thought-provoking view of the economic, ecological, and political controversies surrounding genetically modified food.
Quammen, David, Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind, Norton (ISBN: 0-3930-5140-4).
Dragons, sharks, Manchurian tigers, crocodiles, and other big flesh eaters are the focus of this multifaceted examination of, as well as a moving meditation on, the earth's changing communities.
Taubman, William, Krushchev: The Man and His Era, Norton (ISBN: 0-393-05144-7).
This arresting portrait of the Soviet leader who was both hero and villain examines the cold war era he personified.
Von Drehle, David, Triangle: The Fire That Changed America, Atlantic Monthly (ISBN: 0-87113-874-3).
The tragic loss of more than 140 lives in a New York tenement factory fire forges collaboration among Tammany politicians, suffragettes, and labor reformers.
P O E T R Y
Espada, Martin, Alabanza: New and Selected Poems, Norton (ISBN: 0-393-05192-7)
This 20-year collection of spare, passionate, and acutely sensitive poems sings alabanza, or "praise," for the world's voiceless and dispossessed multitudes.
Notable Books, 2004, committee members: David Steele Hellman (chair) San Francisco State University; Andrea J. Japzon (vice-chair), Enoch Pratt Free Library; Kathleen De La Pena McCook, University of South Florida; Iva M. Freeman, Kendall College Library; Gloria Gehrman, Eugene Public Library; Helene Lafrance, Santa Clara University Orradre Library; Charlene R. Rue, Brooklyn Public Library; Laurie L. Sundborg, Tulsa City - County Library System; Miriam Tuliao, New York Public Library Office of Adult Services; Patrick J. Wall, University City Public Library; Sarah Barbara Watstein, Virginia Commonwealth University; and Brad Hooper, consultant, Booklist.