In 2006, headlines were grim and the year's best books were not about to let us forget that. Several popular titles focused on Iraq ("State of Denial," "Fiasco," and "The Prince of the Marshes"), while others tackled the aftermath of 9/11("The One Percent Doctrine," "The Looming Tower," and "The Emperor's Children").
That's not all. Globalization ("The Inheritance of Loss"), the Middle East ("Gate of the Sun," "The Lemon Tree"), the AIDS crisis in Africa ("There Is No Me Without You"), and even identity theft ("Talk, Talk") all turned up on bookshelves.
But that doesn't mean 2006 left no room for fantasy ("The Ladies of Grace Adieu"), whimsy ("Cellophane"), warm humor("The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid"), and just plain good writing ("Green Swan, Black Swan").
Below is a list of all that Monitor reviewers liked best in 2006 – everything from fact to fiction, poetry to politics, history to personal story. It's a lively mix, one that we hope will offer ideas for you and everyone else on your gift list.
– Marjorie Kehe, Monitor book editor
The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan (Houghton Mifflin, $28)
This gripping tale of life in the Depression-era Dust Bowl was the 2006 National Book Award winner for nonfiction. (Reviewed 1/10/06)
Oracle Bones: A Journey between China's Past and Present, by Peter Hessler (HarperCollins, $26.95)
New Yorker Beijing correspondent Peter Hessler insightfully describes a new China, one no longer rooted in its traditional rural past. (5/2/06)
The Lemon Tree, by Sandy Tolan (Bloomsbury, $24.95)
The is the true story of the unexpected friendship that grows between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian family connected by a house they both have lived in and each claim to own. (5/9/06)
Page 1 of 5