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.
|Bates, Judy Fong. Midnight at the Dragon Café. Counterpoint, paper, $14 (ISBN 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 (ISBN 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-September 11, 2001, novel.
|Gaitskill, Mary. Veronica. Pantheon, $23 (ISBN 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.
|Ghosh, Amitav. The Hungry Tide. Houghton, $25 (ISBN 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.
|Ishiguro, Kazuo. Never Let Me Go. Knopf, $25 (ISBN 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 (ISBN 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 (ISBN 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 (ISBN 0-385-
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 (ISBN 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. Far-rar, $23 (ISBN 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 (ISBN 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.
|Alexievich, Svetlana. Voices from Chernobyl. Tr. by Keith Gessen. Dalkey Archive, $22.95 (ISBN 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 (ISBN 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 Under-ground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America. HarperCollins/Amistad, $27.95 (ISBN 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 (ISBN 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 (ISBN 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 (ISBN 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.
|Lepore, Jill. New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan. Knopf, $26.95 (ISBN 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 (ISBN 0-8050-7443-0).
Moorehead puts a human face on the tidal wave of despair suffered by 20 million refugees worldwide.
|Packer, George. The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq. Farrar, $25 (ISBN 0-374-29963-3).
Packer skillfully navigates the politics of the United States' 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 (ISBN 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 (ISBN 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: Count-down to Hiroshima. HarperCollins, $26.95 (ISBN 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 (ISBN 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.
|Alexander, Elizabeth. American Sublime. Graywolf, paper, $14 (ISBN 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 (ISBN 0-374-27095-3).
Dybeck draws readers into big-city dreams and hard realities through imaginative storytelling and striking imagery of people and places.
Notable Books, 2006, committee members: Miriam Tuliao (Chair), New York Public Library; Mary Hegle Drewes, University of North Dakota; Ellen Fain, Queens Borough Public Library; Gloria Gehrman, Eugene Public Library; Patricia Gregory, Pius XII Memorial Library, Saint Louis University; Steven Jablonski, Skokie Public Library; Helene Lafrance, Santa Clara University Orradre Library; Kathleen de la Peña McCook, University of South Florida; Charlene Rue, Brooklyn Public Library; Scott Silverman, Bryn Mawr College; Sara Taffae, State Library of Louisiana; and Forest Turner, Suffolk County House of Correction Library; with Brad Hooper ( Booklist).