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Best Books of 2003 (Amazon Editors' Picks)

1.A Million Little Pieces (Hardcover)
James Frey

News from Doubleday & Anchor Books The controversy over James Frey's A Million Little Pieces has caused serious concern at Doubleday and Anchor Books. Recent interpretations of our previous statement notwithstanding, it is not the policy or stance of this company that it doesn't matter whether a book ... read more
2.The Time Traveler's Wife (Hardcover)
Audrey Niffenegger

This highly original first novel won the largest advance San Francisco-based MacAdam/Cage had ever paid, and it was money well spent. Niffenegger has written a soaring love story illuminated by dozens of finely observed details and scenes, and one that... read more
3.Jarhead : A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles (Hardcover)
Anthony Swofford

A witty, profane, down-in-the-sand account of the war many only know from CNN, this former sniper's debut is a worthy addition to the battlefield memoir genre. There isn't a bit of heroic posturing as Swofford describes the sheer terror of being fired upon... read more
4.Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (Hardcover)
Michael Lewis

Billy Beane, general manager of MLB's Oakland A's and protagonist of Michael Lewis's ... read more
5.Shutter Island: A Novel (Hardcover)
Dennis Lehane

Know this: Lehane's new novel, his first since the highly praised and bestselling Mystic River, carries an ending so shocking yet so faithful to what has come before, that it will go down as one of the most aesthetically right resolutions ever written... read more
6.The Fortress of Solitude: A Novel (Hardcover)
Jonathan Lethem

If there still remains any doubt, this novel confirms Lethem's status as the poet of Brooklyn and of motherless boys. Projected through the prism of race relations, black music and pop art, Lethem's stunning, disturbing and authoritatively observed ... read more
7.The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America (Hardcover)
Erik Larson

Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World's Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book's categorization to be sure that .... read more
8.Liars and Saints (Hardcover)
Maile Meloy

Opening with a wedding and ending with a funeral, Maile Meloy stuffs everything imaginable in between, and manages to maintain a cool, elegant prose style throughout... read more
9.Positively Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs, and Binion's World Series of Poker (Hardcover)
James McManus

In 2000, novelist and poet James McManus was sent to Las Vegas, innocently enough, by ... read more
10.Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx (Hardcover)
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc

Politicians rail about welfare queens, crack babies and deadbeat dads, but what do they know about the real struggle it takes to survive being poor? Journalist LeBlanc spent some 10 years researching and interviewing one extended family-mother Lourdes ... read more
11.The Da Vinci Code (Hardcover)
Dan Brown

With The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown masterfully concocts an intelligent and lucid thriller that marries the gusto of an international murder mystery with a collection of fascinating esoteria culled from 2,000 years of Western history. A murder in the silent after-hour halls of the Louvre museum ... read more
12.Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (Hardcover)
Walter Isaacson

Benjamin Franklin, writes journalist and biographer Walter Isaacson, was that rare Founding Father who would sooner wink at a passer-by than sit still for a formal portrait. What's more, Isaacson relates in this fluent and entertaining biography, ... read more
13.Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point (Hardcover)
David Lipsky

Individuality would not seem to be a highly prized virtue at West Point. After all, new cadets arriving at the military academy are not required to pack anything more than a toothbrush and some underwear since they will be issued everything else... read more
14.A Short History of Nearly Everything (Hardcover)
Bill Bryson

From primordial nothingness to this very moment, A Short History of Nearly Everything reports what happened and how humans figured it out. To accomplish this daunting literary task, Bill Bryson uses hundreds of sources, from popular science books to interviews with luminaries in various fields... read more
15.The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Hardcover)
Mark Haddon

Mark Haddon's bitterly funny debut novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is a murder mystery of sorts--one told by an autistic version of Adrian Mole. Fifteen-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone is mathematically gifted and socially hopeless, raised in a working-class home by parents who can ... read more
16.They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace Vietnam and America October 1967 (Hardcover)
David Maraniss

Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author Maraniss (When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi) intertwines two compelling narratives to capture the Vietnam War at home and on the battlefield as well as, if not better than, any book yet written... read more
17.Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
Azar Nafisi

An inspired blend of memoir and literary criticism... read more
18.Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (Hardcover)
Mary Roach

"Uproariously funny" doesn't seem a likely description for a book on cadavers. However, Roach, a Salon and Reader's Digest columnist, has done the nearly impossible and written a book as informative and respectful as it is irreverent and witty.... read more
19.Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 (Hardcover)
Simon Winchester

It may seem a stretch to connect a volcanic eruption with civil and religious unrest in Indonesia today, but Simon Winchester makes a compelling case ... read more
20.Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5) (Hardcover)
J. K. Rowling

As his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry approaches, 15-year-old Harry Potter is in full-blown adolescence, complete with regular outbursts of rage, a nearly debilitating crush, and the blooming of a powerful sense of rebellion. It's... read more
21.Vernon God Little: A 21st Century Comedy in the Presence of Death (Man Booker Prize) (Hardcover)
D. B. C. Pierre

The surprise winner of the 2003 Man Booker Prize, DBC Pierre's debut novel, ... read more
22.Madam Secretary: A Memoir (Hardcover)
Madeleine Albright

Albright proposes to "combine the personal with policy" in these memoirs, a sensible narrative strategy, considering her emblematic struggles as a working mother breaking through the glass ceiling of the foreign policy establishment to become U.N. ambassad... read more
23.Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind (Hardcover)
David Quammen

As the subtitle of David Quammen's Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind suggests, his fascination centers on those animals that raise human "awareness of being meat," and he likens the historic impact of these predators to modern-day car accidents: sudden, unexpected... read more
24.The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty (Hardcover)
Caroline Alexander

Surely this exhaustingly-researched, enthralling and enthusiastically-written tome is the last word on the most famous of all seafaring mutinies, that of shipmate Fletcher Christian and against Lieutenant Bligh on the Bounty. More than 200 years have go... read more
25.The Colossus of New York: A City in 13 Parts (Hardcover)
Colson Whitehead

Whitehead (The Intuitionist; John Henry Days) lays out a wildly creative view of New York City. To out-of-towners, Gotham is about famous places, but Whitehead's New York is not. It's more about a way of seeing. For example, "No matter how long you have be... read more
26.Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross (Hardcover)
Alex Ross

With art that looks like a hybrid of Norman Rockwell and Jack Kirby, artist Ross has become the preeminent painter of superheroes of his generation. This lavish coffee- table tribute puts him into a pantheon as exalted as the superbeings he depicts... read more
27.Ilium (Simmons, Dan) (Hardcover)
Dan Simmons

Genre-hopping Dan Simmons returns to science fiction with the vast and intricate masterpiece ... read more
28.Cookoff: Recipe Fever in America (Hardcover)
Amy Sutherland

In this engrossing look at the competitive cooking circuit, journalist Sutherland follows the trail of competitions and a small group of regular participants. These often fanatical competitors, complete with their own Web sites and chat rooms, square off ... read more
29.The Kite Runner (Paperback)
Khaled Hosseini

In his debut novel, The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini accomplishes what very few contemporary novelists are able to do. He manages to provide an educational and eye-opening account of a country's political turmoil--in this case, Afghanistan--while also developing characters whose heartbreaking struggles and emotional triumphs resonate with readers long ... read more
30.Diaspora: Homelands in Exile (2 Volume Set) (Hardcover)
Frederic Brenner

If a group of eastern European Jews re-create their shtetl when they settle in Israel, then which place is home and which is exile? And while a secular Soviet general calls himself a Jew, and so does a man whose ancestors came to India almost 2,000 years ... read more
31.True Notebooks (Hardcover)
Mark Salzman

Salzman (Lying Awake; Iron & Silk) volunteered to teach creative writing at Central Juvenile Hall, a Los Angeles County detention facility for "high-risk" juvenile offenders. Most of these under-18 youths had been charged with murder or other serious crimes, and after trial and sentencing many would end up in ... read more
32.100 Suns (Hardcover)
Michael Light

Despite all the thousands of caricatures and artistic re-interpretations of the nuclear "mushroom cloud," photographs of the real thing are still intensely frightening and visually fascinating. The "thousand suns" referred to in the Bhagavad Gita, from ... read more
33.Lost Light (Hardcover)
Michael Connelly

Award-winning former crime reporter Connelly (The Black Echo; City of Bones) hits all the right notes with this latest in his Edgar-winning mystery series featuring sax-playing L.A. detective Harry Bosch. Even though this marks the ninth outing for Harry... read more
34.America's Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines (Hardcover)
Gail Collins

Well researched and well written, America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines is a powerful and important book. Starting with Pocahontas and Eleanor Dare (the first female colonist), this lively and fascinating history records the changes in American women's lives and the transformations in American society ... read more
35.Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity (Great Discoveries) (Hardcover)
David Foster Wallace

Before discussing the merits of David Foster Wallace's ... read more
36.The Encyclopedia of Surfing (Hardcover)
Matt Warshaw

What's that sound coming from the beach? That's the rustle of pages turning, as would-be immortals look themselves up in ... read more
37.DNA: The Secret of Life (Hardcover)
James D. Watson

What makes DNA different from hordes of competitors purporting to help readers understand genetics is that it is written by none other than James Watson, of Watson and Crick fame. He and his co-author Andrew Berry have produced a clear and easygoing history of genetics, from ... read more
38.In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr. (Hardcover)
Wil Haygood

In this moving, exhaustive life of one of America's greatest entertainers, Haygood (King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell Jr.) casts Sammy Davis Jr. as a man shifting between identities, between the worlds of black people and white ... read more
39.The Complete Far Side 1980-1994 (2 vol set) (Hardcover)
Gary Larson

Gary Larson calls The Complete Far Side, the massive two-volume collection of his Far Side cartoons, an "18-pound hernia giver." Sure to give any coffee table a solid workout, the handsome and heavy 1,272-page "legacy book" is a must for fervent fans; over 4,300 single-panel comics with more than ... read more
40.Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon (Crown Journeys) (Hardcover)
Chuck Palahniuk

It's rare to find a travel guide and a memoir joined neatly together in a single, highly readable 176-page volume. But Chuck Palahniuk ... read more
41.Google Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools (Paperback)
Tara Calishain

Everyone loves Google, and it's the first place many people turn to locate information on the Internet. There's a big gap, though, between knowing that you can use Google to get advance information on your blind date and having a handle on the considerable ... read more
42.Soul Circus (Hardcover)
George P. Pelecanos

George Pelecanos's Washington, D.C., is a place rife with high-living drug dealers, easily obtained guns, and a generation depleted by ignorance, excessive machismo, and misplaced trust in the equalizing power of violence. Yet PI Derek Strange "did love ... read more
43.Living to Tell the Tale (Hardcover)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Living to Tell the Tale, the first of three projected volumes in the memoirs of Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, narrates what, on the surface appears to be the portrait of the young artist through the mid-1950s. But the masterful work, which draws on the craft of the author's ... read more
44.How Would You Move Mount Fuji? Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle - How the World's Smartest Company Selects the Most Creative Thinkers (Hardcover)
William Poundstone

Anyone who's interviewed for a job at Microsoft is intimately familiar with questions like the one in this book's title. They've probably also pondered such problems as why are manhole covers round? how do they make .... read more
45.Schott's Original Miscellany (Hardcover)
Ben Schott

Ever wonder how one ties a sari? Or who makes the Queen of England's pork sausages? How about which three films managed to take all five of the top Oscar awards (picture, director, actress, actor and screenplay), or which Burmese kings died "curious deaths... read more
46.Triangle: The Fire That Changed America (Hardcover)
David Von Drehle

It was a profitable business in a modern fireproof building heralded as a model of efficiency. Yet the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York City became the deadliest workplace in American history when fire broke out on the premises on March 25, 1911.... read more
47.Monkey Dancing: A Father, Two Kids, and a Journey to the Ends of the Earth (Hardcover)
Daniel Glick

After an unexpected, devastating divorce, Glick faced the challenge of bonding with his two children. He handled it by taking his 13-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter on a six-month trip around the world. This unusual, superbly written and deeply hum... read more
48.Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History (Hardcover)
George Crile

Put the Tom Clancy clones back on the shelf; this covert-ops chronicle is practically impossible to put down. No thriller writer would dare invent Wilson, a six-feet-four-inch Texas congressman,liberal on social issues but rabidly anti-Communist, a boozer... read more
49.Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle, Vol. 1) (Hardcover)
Neal Stephenson

In Quicksilver, the first volume of the "Baroque Cycle," Neal Stephenson launches his most ambitious work to date. The novel, divided into three books, opens in 1713 with the ageless Enoch Root seeking Daniel Waterhouse on the campus of what passes for MIT in eighteenth-century Massachusetts. Daniel, Enoch's message ... read more
50.The Big Bang: A Guide to the New Sexual Universe (Hardcover)
The writers at Nerve

Hip, frank, contemporary, and clever, The Big Bang is a savvy sex book, colorful in language and viewpoint. Authors "Em & Lo" of Nerve.com invite you to relish sex, appreciate your partner(s), and keep a sense of humor. This is not your parent's sex lecture: it's irreverent, chummy, and ... read more

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