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Best Books of 2005 (Amazon Editors' Picks)

1.The Year of Magical Thinking
Joan Didion

It is an intensely personal story that involves a relatively small cast of characters, but Didion's telling of it is clearly impelled in large measure by the events in New York of September 2001... read more
2.Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Jonathan Safran Foer

Oskar Schell, hero of this brilliant follow-up to Foer's bestselling Everything Is Illuminated, is a nine-year-old amateur inventor, jewelry designer, astrophysicist, tambourine player and pacifist... read more
3.Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Steven D. Levitt

Forget your image of an economist as a crusty professor worried about fluctuating interest rates: Levitt focuses his attention on more intimate real-world issues, like whether reading to your baby will make her a better student... read more
4.Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life
Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Whether you are laughing aloud or nodding along, reading Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life is like being introduced to a new friend--one that you automatically connect with and feel compelled to share... read more
5.My Friend Leonard
James Frey

Frey achieves another stylistic coup as he develops a narrative thread begun in 2003's A Million Little Pieces. He chronicles his journey out of the terrifying darkness of addiction, and the friend he meets along the way, Leonard... read more
6.Oh the Glory of It All
Sean Wilsey

Wilsey's father was a distant, wealthy man who used a helicopter when a moped would do and whose mandates included squeegeeing the stall after every shower. Much of Wilsey's youth was spent as subservient to, or rebelling against this imposing man... read more
7.Never Let Me Go
Kazuo Ishiguro

Offsetting the bizarreness of these revelations is the placid, measured voice of the narrator, Kathy H., a 31-year-old Hailsham alumna who, at the close of the 1990s, is consciously ending one phase of her life and beginning another.... read more
8.The History of Love: A Novel
Nicole Krauss

The History of Love spans of period of over 60 years and takes readers from Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe to present day Brighton Beach. At the center of each main character's psyche is the issue of loneliness, and the need to fill a void left empty by lost love... read more
9.The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
Bill Watterson

Bill Watterson, as uninterested in underground comix as I was in the mass media's bland concoctions, marched directly into the wasteland and made the comatose syndicated strip form kick up its heels and dance... read more
10.The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
Thomas L. Friedman

Having devoted most of the last four years of his column to the latter as embodied by the Middle East, Friedman picks up where he left off, saving al-Qaeda et al. for the close... read more
11.A Man without a Country
Kurt Vonnegut

In his first book since 1999, it's just like old times as Vonnegut (now 82) makes with the deeply black humor in this collection of articles written over the last five years, many from the alternative magazine In These Times... read more
12.The Tender Bar : A Memoir
J.R. Moehringer

Desperate for a paternal figure, he turns first to his father, a DJ whom he can only access via the radio (Moehringer calls him The Voice and pictures him as "talking smoke")... read more
13.No Country for Old Men
Cormac Mccarthy

The plot is simple. One fine morning in west Texas, a young Vietnam vet is antelope hunting when he comes upon the carnage of a drug deal gone bad. Both heroin and a suitcase of cash remain at the site, along with a number of bodies... read more
14.On Beauty
Zadie Smith

From this raw material, Smith has fashioned a superb book, her best to date. She has interwoven class, race, and gender and taken everyone prisoner... read more
15.Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs: The Definitive Pop-Up
Robert Sabuda

Smaller foldout sections, which open like miniature books and also incorporate pop-ups, cover additional topics (Dinosaur Detectives and Mystery Extinction) and introduce other dinosaurs and their characteristics... read more
16.The Glass Castle : A Memoir
Jeannette Walls

She opens her memoir by describing looking out the window of her taxi, wondering if she's overdressed for the evening and spotting her mother on the sidewalk, "rooting through a Dumpster." ... read more
17.Kafka on the Shore
Haruki Murakami

Joining the rich literature of runaways, Kafka On The Shore follows the solitary, self-disciplined schoolboy Kafka Tamura as he hops a bus from Tokyo to the randomly chosen town of Takamatsu, reminding himself at each step that he has to be "the world's toughest fifteen-year-old." ... read more
18.Black Hole
Charles Burns

A sexually transmitted disease, the "bug," is spreading among teenagers. Those who get it develop bizarre mutations -- sometimes subtle, like a tiny mouth at the base of one boy's neck, and sometimes obvious and grotesque... read more
19.1491 : New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
Charles C. Mann

Reviewing the latest, not widely reported research in Indian demography, origins and ecology, Mann zestfully demonstrates that long before any European explorers set foot in the New World, Native American cultures were flourishing with a high degree of sophistication... read more
Ian McEwan

McEwan, an enduring talent in Britain combines "literary seriousness" with a "momentum more commonly associated with genre fiction"... read more
21.The Historian
Elizabeth Kostova

Her widowed father, Paul, reluctantly provides pieces of a chilling story; it seems this ominous little book has a way of forcing itself on its owners, with terrifying results... read more
22.Mao : The Unknown Story
Jung Chang

Using exhaustive research in archives all over the world, Chang and Halliday recast Mao's ascent to power and subsequent grip on China in the context of global events... read more
David McCullough

It was a turbulent and confusing time. As British and American politicians struggled to reach a compromise, events on the ground escalated until war was inevitable... read more
24.Animals in Translation : Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior
Temple Grandin

Philosophers and scientists have long wondered what goes on in the minds of animals, and this fascinating study gives a wealth of illuminating insights into that mystery... read more
25.Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)
J.K. RowlingMary GrandPre

Grade 5 Up - Opening just a few weeks after the previous book left off, the penultimate entry in the series is, as the author foretold, the darkest and most unsettling yet... read more
26.God's Politics : Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It
Jim Wallis

That combination is actually reason enough to recommend the book in a time when the national political and theological discourse is dominated by blanket descriptions and shortsightedness... read more
27.Lunar Park
Bret Easton Ellis

Having ridden to fame as the laureate of Reagan-era excesses, Ellis serves up a self-eviscerating apologia for all the awful things (wanton drug use, reckless promiscuity, serial murder) he worked so hard to glamorize... read more
28.Specimen Days : A Novel
Michael Cunningham

Engaging Walt Whitman as his muse (and borrowing the name of Whitman's 1882 autobiography for his title), Cunningham weaves a captivating, strange and extravagant novel of human progress and social decline... read more
29.Teacher Man : A Memoir
Frank McCourt

Another wonderful memoir from McCourt, famed author of "Angela's Ashes," about his childhood in Ireland. McCourt wrote "Angela's" when he was in his 60's, and this book takes us back to the thirty years before he became an author, when he was a decidedly less-famous high school English teacher in New York City... read more
30.Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Malcolm Gladwell

Best-selling author Gladwell (The Tipping Point) has a dazzling ability to find commonality in disparate fields of study... read more
31.Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape
Brian Hayes

In the original, highly readable Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape, Brian Hayes adapts the form of the field guide to "everything that isn't nature," as he writes... read more
32.The Complete New Yorker: Eighty Years of the Nation's Greatest Magazine
David Remnick

Eighty years of The New Yorker offers a detailed, entertaining history of the life of the city, the nation, and the world since 1925... read more
33.Veronica : A Novel
Mary Gaitskill

Armored in attraction, you can access all areas; stripped of it, you can find yourself twitching crazily on the sidewalk, like the aging cover girl Alison describes early in the narrative... read more
34.Six Bad Things : A Novel
Charlie Huston

The Blues Brothers as directed by Sam Peckinpah. But Hank demonstrates an almost-supernatural knack for survival, and one can't help but root for him even as he brings mayhem into the lives of family and friends... read more
35.The Areas of My Expertise
John Hodgman

One of the funniest and most entertaining books to play on readers' imaginations in recent memory. Highly recommended... read more
36.Hip Hotels Atlas
Herbert Ypma

Herbert Ypma, creator of a whole new genre of style and travel books, has selected a galaxy of destination hotels that make travel dreams become reality. Every one is, in every sense, a Highly Individual Place. read more
37.Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Jared Diamond

Because he's addressing such significant issues within a vast span of time, Diamond can occasionally speak too briefly and assume too much, and at times his shorthand remarks may cause careful readers to raise an eyebrow... read more
38.The March : A Novel
E.L. Doctorow

As we have come to expect, Doctorow puts the reader in the picture; never more so than in recalling "The March" and letting us see it as a cautionary tale for our times... read more
39.China, Inc. : How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World
Ted C. Fishman

Calling China's huge population "arguably the greatest natural resource on the planet," Fishman details how hundreds of millions of peasants have migrated from rural to urban areas to find manufacturing jobs, providing an unlimited, low-wage workforce to power China's economy... read more
40.Saving Fish from Drowning
Amy Tan

There are some goofy parts about Harry, the member of the group who is left behind, and his encounter with two newswomen from Global News Network, some slapstick sex scenes and a great deal of dog-loving dialogue... read more
41.The Star Wars Poster Book
Stephen J. Sansweet

Exploding with color, The Star Wars Poster Book illuminates an unexplored corner of Star Wars history... read more
42.Looking At Los Angeles
David L. Ulin

Looking at Los Angeles is at once a lesson in history, architecture, style, and culture, and a remarkable visual and written tribute to one of America's greatest cities... read more
43.When I knew
Robert Trachtenberg

Each story is accompanied by a photograph or cartoon that helps make the book visually appealing. Some of the selections are comical; others are poignant, like the one about the grandmother who made her grandson cry when she denounced parents who couldn't accept the truth... read more
44.Mother-Daughter Wisdom : Creating a Legacy of Physical and Emotional Health
Christiane Northrup

She suggests moms not become their daughters' social directors, and that they hold daughters accountable. Nuggets like these are certainly valuable; it's unfortunate that they're buried in such a massive and uneven outlay of information... read more
45.Mother of Sorrows
Richard Mccann

In prose as silky smooth as the clothes from his mother's closetthat the protagonist covertly dons, McCann relates an Eisenhower-era coming-of-agein a D.C. suburb of trimmed lawns and station wagons... read more
46.The Design of Dissent : Socially and Politically Driven Graphics
Milton Glaser

The book's images will test the visual literacy and political awareness of many readers and will challenge preconceptions and assumptions... read more
47.The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed
John Vaillant

It is this legacy of greed and loss that rendered the immense golden spruce, a miraculous survivor, sacred, and that drove Hadwin to cut it down... read more
48.Eleanor Rigby : A Novel
Douglas Coupland

No one wants his novel to bear a striking resemblance to the next whimsical vehicle featuring those kinder, gentler parts Jack Nicholson has been playing lately... read more
49.Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You (Spiderwick Chronicles)
Holly BlackTony DiTerlizzi

With so much to offer, this book is destined to be pored over for generations to come!... read more
50.The Algebraist
Iain M. Banks

Now two enormous battle fleets converge on Ulubis, and Fassin must undertake a quest deep into Nasqueron to uncover the Dwellers' secret. This is an enormously enjoyable book, full of wonderful aliens, a sense of wonder and subtle political commentary on current events... read more

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