Notable Books for 2004

  notable books for 2004










Nonfiction   |    Poetry

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.


cover of brick lane 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.
cover of the inquisitor's manual

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.

cover of any human heart 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.

cover of alva & irva 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.

cover of brownsville: stories 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.

cover of curious incident of the dog ... 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.

cover of the kite runner 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.

the known world 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.

cover of fortress of solitude 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.

cover of love 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.

cover of star of the sea 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.

cover of drinking coffee elsewhere 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.

cover of the cave Saramago, Jose, The Cave, Harcourt (ISBN: 0-15-100414-5).
This dark, allegorical tale juxtaposes a rural existence with artificial modern life and examines love, relationships, and family.


cover of wrapped in rainbows... 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.

cover of naked in the promised land 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.

cover of beyond the river 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.

cover of flat broke .... 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.

cover of moutains beyond moutains 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.

cover of michelangelo and the pope's ceiling 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.

cover of under the banner of heaven 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.

cover of random family 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.

cover of food inc. 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.

cover of monster of god 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.

cover of krushchev: the man and his era 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.

cover of triangle ... 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 cover of alabanza: new and selected poems

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.