The Year’s Ten Notable Books

Hey, I just found the New York Times’ list of 10 notable books for 2006 (login required) and thought you might find it interesting (and perhaps useful as you shop for readers). Note that the included comments are from the Times article and do not necessarily represent the views of this bird-brained book reviewer.

Fiction

Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart
“Equal parts Gogol and Borat.”

The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel
“Her compact fictions, populated by smart, neurotic, somewhat damaged narrators, speak grandly to the longings and insecurities in all of us, and in a voice that is bracingly direct and sneakily profound.”

The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud
A “superbly intelligent, keenly observed comedy of manners, set amid the glitter of cultural Manhattan in 2001.”

The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford
“As ever the drama is rooted in the interior world of its authentically life-size hero, as he logs long hours on the highways and back roads of New Jersey, taking expansive stock of middle-age defeats and registering the erosions of a brilliantly evoked landscape of suburbs, strip malls and ocean towns.”

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
“The antic ghost of Nabokov hovers over this buoyantly literate first
novel.”

Nonfiction

Falling Through the Earth: A Memoir by Danielle Trussoni
An “intense, at times searing memoir revisits the author’s rough-and-tumble Wisconsin girlhood, spent on the wrong side of the tracks in the company of her father, a Vietnam vet.”

The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
“In the fullest account yet of the events that led to the fateful day, Wright unmasks the secret world of Osama bin Laden and his collaborators and also chronicles the efforts of a handful of American intelligence officers alert to the approaching danger but frustrated, time and again, in their efforts to stop it.”

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel
Philbrick.
“This absorbing history of the Plymouth Colony is a model of revisionism.”

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael
Pollan
“In an uncommonly good year for American food writing, this is a book that stands out.”

The Places in Between by Rory Stewart
“This report on [Stewart’s] adventures — walking across Afghanistan in January of 2002, shortly after the fall of the Taliban – belongs with the masterpieces of the travel genre.”

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