I love this list! Each year the Notable Books Council selects 25 works of fiction, nonfiction and poetry books. According to the Notable Books Council, “…books may be selected because they possess exceptional literary merit; expand the horizons of human knowledge; make a specialized body of knowledge accessible to the non-specialist; have the potential to contribute significantly to the solution of a contemporary problem; and/or present a unique concept.” FYI — every book that I have read on this list, I greatly enjoyed. I have linked to my review, if available.
Jessica Anthony. The Convalescent
Rovar Pfiegman, bus-dwelling meat salesman, fulfills his destiny as the last of his clan in this oddly imaginative tale.
Margaret Atwood. The Year of the Flood
In the near future, two women survive an apocalyptic event in a queasily enthralling work.
Nicholson Baker. The Anthologist
Poet Paul Chowder, a charming failure, struggles to regain his muse and his girlfriend while watching deadlines slip by.
Chris Cleave. Little Bee My review for Little Bee
The compelling voice of a refugee illuminates the life-changing friendship between two women that began with a horrifying encounter on a secluded Nigerian beach.
Pete Dexter. Spooner
A boy struggles to navigate the vagaries of the world with the lifelong guidance of his stepfather in this funny and heartbreaking tale.
Yiyun Li. The Vagrants
The execution of a dissident woman reverberates through her small town in the aftermath of China’s Cultural Revolution.
Colum McCann. Let the Great World Spin My review for Let the Great World Spin
Phillipe Petit’s highwire walk between the Twin Towers provides the backdrop for this rich portrait of the unlikely connections between a group of New Yorkers in the 1970s.
Toni Morrison. A Mercy
Four women—white, mixed race, black, and Native American—become a makeshift family under the care of a “good” man in colonial America.
Richard Powers. Generosity: An Enhancement
In this postmodern indictment of the biotech industry, a student’s unnerving happiness seems to hold the key to banishing despair from the human genetic code.
Colm Tóibín. Brooklyn
A young Irish woman faces heart-wrenching decisions in this unabashedly romantic and deceptively simple story of immigration and belonging.
Dave Cullen. Columbine
This fine work of investigative journalism challenges the myths and misconceptions of the Columbine tragedy.
Dave Eggers. Zeitoun My review for Zeitoun
This powerful account explores the devastation of post–Katrina New Orleans through the eyes of a Syrian American who remained during the storm and endured the resulting chaos and confusion.
David Finkel. The Good Soldiers
An embedded reporter describes the human cost paid by a U.S. Army battalion on the streets of Iraq in language that is searing, visceral, and immediate.
David Grann. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
An intrepid reporter sets out to uncover the mysterious fate the last of the great Victorian explorers in this thrilling adventure.
Emmanuel Guibert. The Photographer: Into War-torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders
Using mixed visual media, this stunning memoir vividly depicts the struggles and accomplishments of a humanitarian mission in an unforgiving terrain.
Richard Holmes. The Age of Wonder: The Romantic Generation and the Discovery of the Beauty and Terror of Science
This lively, stellar group biography animates the engrossing accounts of the research that inspired a sense of awe in poets and scientists alike.
Patrick Radden Keefe. The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream
Human trafficking and its subsequent effects on the American economy and social structures are documented in this fast-paced panoramic expose.
Christopher McDougall. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
One journalist’s quest to discover the secrets of the reclusive Tarahumara Indians leads to an exciting and dangerous endurance race.
Michael Norman and Elizabeth M. Norman. Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
In-depth, brutal, and moving, this narrative provides multiple perspectives into a tragic World War II episode in the Philippines.
Lainey Salisbury and Aly Sujo. Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art
This enthralling page-turner describes how archivists uncovered one of the most extensive frauds in recent art history.
David Small. Stitches: A Memoir
Stark drawings give voice to the horrors of a child who finds redemption in art while growing up in a repressed and disturbed family.
Nicholas Thompson. The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War
The remarkable half-century friendship and rivalry between two influential strategists who helped shape American policy is brought to life in this insightful dual biography.
Sherman Alexie. Face
Hanging Loose. Autobiographical poems experimenting with various styles and forms explore childhood, fatherhood, and the trials, perks, and humor of minor celebrity.
Stephen Dunn. What Goes On: Selected and New Poems 1995-2009
Completely accessible poems written in ordinary language deal with cats, love, barfights, desire, melancholia, and relationships.