Friday, February 23, 2007

The New York Times on the NYT Notable Book List 2006

Here is the original article outlining the New York Times' list of notable books for 2006 (and giving short descriptions of each work).

Included in this list are the Non-fiction "Notable Books" selections. I put it to the group: are these viable candidates for our challenge, or should we limit the challenge to the fiction selections?

The following is a list of the Non-fiction selections:

  • THE AFTERLIFE. By Donald Antrim
  • AMERICA AT THE CROSSROADS: Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy. By Francis Fukuyama
  • ANDREW CARNEGIE. By David Nasaw
  • AT CANAAN'S EDGE: America in the King Years, 1965-68. By Taylor Branch
  • AVA GARDNER: ''Love Is Nothing.'' By Lee Server
  • THE BLIND SIDE: Evolution of a Game. By Michael Lewis
  • BLOOD AND THUNDER: An Epic of the American West. By Hampton Sides
  • BLUE ARABESQUE: A Search for the Sublime. By Patricia Hampl
  • CLEMENTE: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero. By David Maraniss
  • CONSIDER THE LOBSTER: And Other Essays. By David Foster Wallace
  • THE COURTIER AND THE HERETIC: Leibniz, Spinoza, and the Fate of God in the Modern World. By Matthew Stewart
  • THE DISCOMFORT ZONE: A Personal History. By Jonathan Franzen
  • EAT, PRAY, LOVE: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. By Elizabeth Gilbert
  • FALLING THROUGH THE EARTH: A Memoir. By Danielle Trussoni
  • FIASCO: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. By Thomas E. Ricks
  • FIELD NOTES FROM A CATASTROPHE: Man, Nature, and Climate Change. By Elizabeth Kolbert
  • FLAUBERT: A Biography. By Frederick Brown
  • FUN HOME: A Family Tragicomic. By Alison Bechdel
  • THE GHOST MAP: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic -- and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World. By Steven Johnson
  • THE GREAT DELUGE: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. By Douglas Brinkley
  • THE GREATEST STORY EVER SOLD: The Decline and Fall of Truth From 9/11 to Katrina
  • HAPPINESS: A History. By Darrin M. McMahon
  • HEAT: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany. By Bill Buford
  • IRAN AWAKENING: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope. By Shirin Ebadi with Azadeh Moaveni
  • JAMES TIPTREE, JR.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon. By Julie Phillips
  • JANE GOODALL: The Woman Who Redefined Man. By Dale Peterson
  • KATE: The Woman Who Was Hepburn. By William J. Mann
  • LEE MILLER: A LIFE. By Carolyn Burke
  • THE LOOMING TOWER: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. By Lawrence Wright
  • THE LOST: A Search for Six of Six Million. By Daniel Mendelsohn
  • MAYFLOWER: A Story of Courage, Community, and War. By Nathaniel Philbrick
  • THE MOST FAMOUS MAN IN AMERICA: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher
  • THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA: A Natural History of Four Meals. By Michael Pollan
  • ORACLE BONES: A Journey Between China's Past and Present. By Peter Hessler
  • THE PLACES IN BETWEEN. By Rory Stewart
  • PRISONERS: A Muslim and a Jew Across the Middle East Divide
  • PROGRAMMING THE UNIVERSE: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes On the Cosmos. By Seth Lloyd
  • QUEEN OF FASHION: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution. By Caroline Weber
  • READING LIKE A WRITER: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them. By Francine Prose
  • REDEMPTION: The Last Battle of the Civil War. By Nicholas Lemann
  • SELF-MADE MAN: One Woman's Journey Into Manhood and Back Again. By Norah Vincent
  • STATE OF DENIAL. By Bob Woodward
  • SWEET AND LOW: A Family Story. By Rich Cohen
  • TEMPTATIONS OF THE WEST: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Beyond. By Pankaj Mishra
  • THINGS I DIDN'T KNOW: A Memoir. By Robert Hughes
  • THE UNITED STATES OF ARUGULA: How We Became a Gourmet Nation. By David Kamp
  • THE WAR OF THE WORLD: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West. By Niall Ferguson
  • THE WORST HARD TIME: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl. By Timothy Egan
I must admit that if democratic sentiment ran towards including these non-fiction works among the possibilities for the challenge, I might be tempted to expand my list of twelve to include three books that are already on my shelf: The Looming Tower, Oracle Bones and The Worst Hard Time. Other pressingly intriguing candidates are At Canaan's Edge (or should I attempt the earlier volumes in the series first?), Field Notes from a Catastrophe, James Tiptree, Jr., and The Omnivore's Dilemma.


Loose Baggy Monster said...

I would have no problem expanding to non-fiction. There are quite a few non-fiction selections I wouldn't mind swapping for some of my fiction choices.

kookiejar said...

I think Wendy should have final say on whether non-fiction should be included, as it is her challenge to begin with.

That being said, I think expanding the challenge to include so many books diminishes our chances at overlap, which was (I thought) the whole reason for this separate blog.

Pour of Tor said...

Good points. It does expand the field to 100 books, which would diminish overlap to some extent (although I suspect we would nonetheless cluster around the fiction category and the most publicized and well-reviewed books of both categories).

I also think that another point of the blog is to create overlap, if that makes any sense - a good review on this blog would certainly encourage me to read a book I hadn't otherwise considered, and part of the appeal of including both lists (for me) is to educate myself on genres/subjects/authors that I wouldn't normally read but that others in the challenge might be drawn to. But on the other hand, my plate is plenty full without the non-fiction options, and full of diverse and unknown (to me) authors, no less.

So in other words, I am on the fence about it.

And I also agree that Wendy, our fearless leader, should get the final say in her challenge, and I am more than willing to follow her lead on this. I also know that people tend to adapt these challenges to their own interests and wondered whether anyone else was thinking of including non-fiction.

Wendy said...

I'm not opposed to people reading nonfiction at all. When I designed the challenge I was thinking of it as a personal challenge, and I'm much more of a fiction I limited myself to the fiction list. That being said, I don't want to limit others in the least!

How does this sound: Participants should select a minimum of 10 books from the fiction list, but may add to that as many nonfiction as they like? This way we will be assured of having a good amount of overlap so we can have discussions of common books. (If 10 is too many - please speak up! I'm not into controlling people's reading habits and if you all hate this idea, I'm willing to say: "Whatever!" Is that ambiguous enough for you!??! LOL!)

I will probably stay with my original goal of 20 books from the fiction list!

kookiejar said...

I think Wendy's suggestion is sound. Already three of us have read 'Suite Francaise' so it's reasonable to assume we are going to read a few more in common as well. As long as the meat of the challenge rests in the fiction category, I'm up for including the non-fiction list as well.

Anonymous said...

If you read David Nasaw's book on Andrew Carnegie, the David Brooks who hired Andrew in the Pittsburgh Telegraph office was NOT a "Scotsman." He was 6th generation in this country and my great, great uncle. And Henry O'Reilly's wife was David's cousin Marcia Brooks, so all in the family.

genie ologist

Pour of Tor said...

I like Wendy's "10 Fiction +" proposal very much, in part because it means that adding on non-fiction won't take away from the reading of fiction.

If any potential participants are alarmed by the prospect of reading as many as 10 books from the list, perhaps a good guideline might be something like "At least 3/4 of your list should be fiction"? (I only use 3/4 rather than 5/6 because for some reason it seems a simpler calculation to me for smaller numbers). What do you think, Wendy and other challenge-seekers?

Wendy said...

Sounds good to me!