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Best Books of 2002 (Amazon Editors' Picks)

1.Life of Pi (Hardcover)
Yann Martel

Yann Martel's imaginative and unforgettable Life of Pi is a magical reading experience, an endless blue expanse of storytelling about adventure, survival, and ultimately, faith. The precocious son of a zookeeper, 16-year-old Pi Patel is raised in Pondicherry, India, where he tries on various faiths for size, attracting "religions ... read more
2.Middlesex: A Novel (Hardcover)
Jeffrey Eugenides

"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974." And so begins ... read more
3.Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science (Hardcover)
Atul Gawande

Gently dismantling the myth of medical infallibility, Dr. Atul Gawande's ... read more
4.Portraits: 9/11/01: The Collected "Portraits of Grief" from The New York Times (Hardcover)
The New York Times

In the days and weeks following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the nation and New York in particular struggled to find normalcy. Yet the city's desire to confront the terror and, in turn, work through its grief was palpable. ... read more
5.The Crimson Petal and the White (Hardcover)
Michel Faber

Although it's billed as "the first great 19th-century novel of the 21st century," ... read more
6.The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women & the Artists They Inspired (Hardcover)
Francine Prose

In The Lives of the Muses, Francine Prose writes a spirited and enlightening expose of nine women who fired the imaginations of some of the most inimitable artists and thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries. With wicked wit, she shows how these women were both exemplars of their ... read more
7.A New Kind of Science (Hardcover)
Stephen Wolfram

Physics and computer science genius Stephen Wolfram, whose .... read more
8.Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths
Bruce Feiler

At a time when conflicts among three of the world's major religions--Islam, Judaism, and Christianity--are in the global spotlight, Bruce Feiler offers a stunning biography of the one man who unites all three religions: Abraham. "The most mesmerizing stor... read more
9.The Lovely Bones: A Novel
Alice Sebold

On her way home from school on a snowy December day in 1973, 14-year-old Susie Salmon ("like the fish") is lured into a makeshift underground den in a cornfield and brutally raped and murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer--the man she knew as her... read more
10.Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live
Tom Shales

This oral history of NBC's Saturday Night Live is the juiciest treasure trove of backstage gossip, sex and drugs since The Andy Warhol Diaries. With almost three decades' worth of memories from cast members, celebrity hosts, writers, crew and network execs ... read more
11.Running with Scissors: A Memoir
Augusten Burroughs

There is a passage early in Augusten Burroughs's harrowing and highly entertaining memoir, ... read more
12.A Return to Cooking
Eric Ripert

Eric Ripert, chef and part owner of New York's Le Bernadin, discovered that as his chef star rose he drifted far, far away from cooking... read more
13.Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East
Michael B. Oren

This is the most complete history to date of the Six Day War of 1967, in which Israel entered and began its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. While no account can be definitive until Arab archives open, Oren, a Princeton-trained senior fellow at ... read more
14.Atonement: A Novel
Ian Mcewan

Ian McEwan's Booker Prize-nominated Atonement is his first novel since Amsterdam took home the prize in 1998. But while Amsterdam was a slim, sleek piece, Atonement is a more sturdy, more ambitious work, allowing McEwan more room to play, think, and experiment. We meet 13-year-old Briony Tallis in ... read more
15.Nobody's Perfect: Writings from The New Yorker
Anthony Lane

The title phrase of Lane's fabulous collection of reviews and profiles is taken from Some Like It Hot, uttered by the unflappable Osgood Fielding III when he finds out his flame isn't a dame. That sense of bittersweet glee is also felt throughout Lane's re... read more
16.The Company: A Novel of the CIA
Robert Littell

Robert Littell, long known as one of the best writers of fiction about the Cold War, is not as well known as John le Carr or the great Charles McCarry, but nevertheless has a devoted following among serious aficionados of the ... read more
17.Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before
Tony Horwitz

Captain James Cook's three epic 18th-century explorations of the Pacific Ocean were the last of their kind, literally completing the map of the world. Yet despite his monumental discoveries, principally in the South Pacific, Cook the man has remained an... read more
18.Satisfaction: The Art of the Female Orgasm
Kim Cattrall

Pleasing color sketches and simple diagrams adorn the pages of ... read more
19.The Blue Bear: A True Story of Friendship, Tragedy, and Survival in the Alaskan Wilderness
Lynn Schooler

"People step into the [Alaskan] landscape and vanish without a trace," writes wildlife guide Lynn Schooler in this ode to the wild beauty of the Alaskan coast, an unusual friendship, and a mysterious bear with fur the color of "burnished metal." Schooler s... read more
Neil Gaiman

Coraline lives with her preoccupied parents in part of a huge old house--a house so huge that other people live in it, too... round, old former actresses Miss Spink and Miss Forcible and their aging Highland terriers ("We trod the boards, luvvy") and th... read more
Umberto Eco

The most playful of historical novelists, Umberto Eco has absorbed the real lesson of history: that there is no such thing as the absolute truth. In ... read more
22.Here Is New York: A Democracy of Photographs
Gilles Peress

On September 25, 2001, an exhibition opened in a previously vacant storefront in SoHo, perhaps 20 blocks from Ground Zero. Photographer Peress, who had been photographing the city for the New Yorker, Michael Shulan (who owned the building where the exhibit... read more
23.The Scar
China Mieville

In the third book in an astounding, genre-breaking run, China ... read more
24.Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing
Margaret S. Livingstone

What is it that makes the work of Monet, van Gogh, da Vinci, and Warhol so visually arresting? How do our eyes and brains coordinate to perceive line and color?... read more
25.American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center
William Langewiesche

Langewiesche had unrestricted access to Manhattan's Ground Zero during the post-September 11 cleanup, and his triptych of articles (originally published in the Atlantic Monthly) takes readers through what became known to its denizens as the Pile, from the ... read more
26.Benjamin Franklin
Edmund S. Morgan

This wonderful biography of an extraordinary man results from a perfect marriage of subject and scholar. Among the most senior of our senior historians, Yale professor emeritus Morgan (American Slavery, American Freedom, etc.) proves himself still at the ... read more
Michael Chabon

In Summerland, his first novel for young readers, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon attempts an American Narnia. Inspired by Lewis and Tolkien, he's created his own magical landscape on which to paint a sweeping fantasy quest, but mixes the same ingredients--folklore and new inventions--in a distinctively American way... read more
28.Everything Is Illuminated: A Novel
Jonathan Safran

The simplest thing would be to describe Everything Is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer's accomplished debut, as a novel about the Holocaust. It is, but that really fails to do justice to the sheer ambition of this book. The main story is a grimly familiar one. A young Jewish American--who ... read more
29.The Babbo Cookbook
Mario Batali

One of the most coveted reservations to have in New York City is at Babbo, Mario Batali's flagship restaurant in Greenwich Village. In ... read more
30.The Little Friend
Donna Tartt

Widely anticipated over the decade since her debut in The Secret History, Tartt's second novel confirms her talent as a superb storyteller, sophisticated observer of human nature and keen appraiser of ethics and morality. If the theme of The Secret History... read more
31.Republic of Dreams : Greenwich Village: The American Bohemia, 1910-1960
Ross Wetzsteon

New York's Greenwich Village, "the most significant square mile in American cultural history" and "home of half the talent and half the eccentricity in the country," is the subject of Ross Wetzsteon's ... read more
32.Take On the Street: What Wall Street and Corporate America Don't Want You to Know
Arthur Jr Levitt

Levitt, the Securities and Exchange Commission's longest-serving chairman, supervised stock markets during the late 1990s dot-com boom. As working Americans poured billions into stocks and mutual funds, corporate America devised increasingly opaque strateg... read more
33.The Little Hippos' Adventure
Lena Landstrom

Every once in a while we become so enamored with a picture book that we have to sit tight for a while to keep from injuring or annoying others with our enthusiasm. Lena Landstr... read more
34.Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich
Kevin Phillips

Most American conservatives take it as an article of faith that the less governmental involvement in affairs of the market and pocketbook the better. The rich do not, whatever they might say--for much of their wealth comes from the "power and preferment of... read more
35.Jolie Blon's Bounce: A Novel
James Lee Burke

Dave Robicheaux, the Louisiana cop who's easily one of the most complex and compelling protagonists in mystery fiction, confronts his own demons as well as a brutal adversary who might be the devil himself in this dark thriller. This is classic James ... read more
36.The Future of Life
Edward O. Wilson

The eminent Harvard naturalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Wilson marshals all the prodigious powers of his intellect and imagination in this impassioned call to ensure the future of life. Opening with an imagined conversation with Henry David ... read more
37.The Years of Rice and Salt
Kim Stanley Robinson

Award-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson delivers a thoughtful and powerful examination of cultures and the people who shape them. How might human history be different if 14th-century Europe was utterly wiped out by plague, and Islamic and Buddhist society... read more
38.What Happened to Lani Garver
Carol Plum-Ucci

The folks on Hackett Island, near Philadelphia, are not too friendly to newcomers. Anyone the slightest bit different is eyed with suspicion, as Claire found out when she missed a year of junior high due to leukemia. Now she works hard at fitting in, ... read more
39.Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11
Thomas L. Friedman

"History just took a right turn into a blind alley," comments the New York Times columnist in his latest book, "and something very dear has just been taken away from us." Tackling this observation from many different angles, this lucid book, consisting of ... read more
40.I'm Just Here for the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking
Alton Brown

Alton Brown, host of Food Network's Good Eats, is not your typical TV cook. Equal parts Jacques Pepin and Mr. Science, with a dash of MacGyver, Brown goes to great lengths to get the most out of his ingredients and tools to discover the right cooking method for the ... read more
41.Blood of Victory: A Novel
Alan Furst

I.A. Serebin, an emigre writer who heads the International Russian Union and edits its literary magazine, is no stranger to war: "Two gangsters, one neighborhood, they fight," he comments at a dinner party on a yacht in the Istanbul harbor in the autumn of 1940. Istanbul, ... read more
42.Shakey: Neil Young's Biography
Jimmy McDonough

Cantankerous and secretive, Neil Young has banished authors from his inner sanctum--until now. In ... read more
43.Baseball: A Literary Anthology
Nicholas Dawidoff

Dawidoff, the author of a well-regarded biography of Moe Berg (The Catcher Was a Spy), has assembled this collection of exemplary baseball writing. While acknowledging the literature's formative years with early boosters such as Albert Spalding and ... read more
44.Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Second Edition
David Pogue

Mac OS X: The Missing Manual ranks among the best books to have at your side as you explore the latest Macintosh operating system as an everyday user who wants to get some work done, have a bit of fun, and feel part of the Mac community... read more
45.You Got Nothing Coming: Notes from a Prison Fish
Jimmy A. Lerner

You Got Nothing Coming, Jimmy A. Lerner's memoir of his first year (of a possible 12) as an inmate in a Nevada state prison, is a shocking, hilarious, and heartbreaking narrative of a world both parallel to and absolutely alien from the one most readers inhabit. With deft, economical ... read more
46.Linked: The New Science of Networks
Albert-Laszlo Barabasi

How is the human brain like the AIDS epidemic? Ask physicist Albert... read more
47.Salt: A World History
Mark Kurlansky

Only Kurlansky, winner of the James Beard Award for Excellence in Food Writing for Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, could woo readers toward such an off-beat topic. Yet salt, Kurlansky asserts, has "shaped civilization." Although now ... read more
48.Tuxedo Park : A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II
Jennet Conant

This must have been an extremely difficult book to write. Its subject, Alfred Loomis, never gave interviews during his lifetime and destroyed all his papers before his death. "Few men of Loomis' prominence and achievement have gone to greater lengths to ... read more
49.What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained
Robert L. Wolke

Why do recipes call for unsalted butter--and salt? What is a microwave, actually? Are smoked foods raw or cooked? Robert L. Wolke's enlightening and entertaining ... read more
50.Inside 9-11: What Really Happened
Der Spiegel

The editors of Der Spiegel magazine have put together a comprehensive account of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The book is divided into several sections, including a chronology of the events of September 11 and background on the terrorists especially... read more

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