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A feast of books

In the long meal of civilization, books are the world's best leftovers.

According to Gary Ink at Publishers Weekly, the cafeteria of literature offered more than 64,000 different titles last year. Talk about progressive dinners! Americans responded to this plenty by gobbling up more than 2 billion books - of varying nutritional value, to be sure.

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From this enormous offering, we've composed a menu of notable books reviewed in the Monitor this year. You'll find 10 recommendations in fiction and nonfiction, along with a longer list of books that attracted notice during the year. We've even got a couple kids meals. Bon apptit!

- Ron Charles, book editor

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