The 2006 List

notable books for 2006

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.


midnight at the dragon cafe 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.
extremely loud & incredibly close 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.
veronica 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.
hungry tide 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.
never let me go 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.
beasts of no nation 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.
no country for old men 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.
saturday 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.
kafka on the shore 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.
gilead 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.
the hummingbird's daughter 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.


voices from chernobyl 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.
a woman in berlin 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.
bound for canaan 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.
the fly in the cathedral 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.
collapse 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.
conspiracy of fools 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.
new york burning 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.
human cargo 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.
the assassin's gate 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.
the orientalist 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.
john brown, abolitionist 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.
shockwave 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.
the glass castle 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.


american sublime 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.
streets in their own ink 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).