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25 Books to Remember from 1996


Books to Remember is an annual list of 25 titles chosen for their distinct and lasting contribution to literature and/or to knowledge for the general adult reader. Selection criteria include literary excellence, information value and importance, sincerity and honesty of presentation, skill in presentation, and importance in historical context.

You can obtain a free copy of this list at any branch of The New York Public Libary. Titles on this list can be reserved for you free at your local branch.

Angela's Ashes: A Memoir
Frank McCourt
Scribner [B-McCourt]
The luck of the Irish...It isn't what you think.

Arguing About Slavery: The Great Battle in the United States Congress
William Lee Miller
Knopf [973.5-M]
Congressional struggles over America's greatest moral dilemma.

The Autobiography of My Mother
Jamaica Kincaid
Farrar [FIC-K]
The dark and bleak maturation of a motherless Caribbean island girl.

Peter Ackroyd
Knopf [B-Blake-A]
The origins and consolations of art in the voices and visions of England's most eccentric genius.

The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
James McBride
Riverhead [B-McBride]
A son seeks out his mother's long hidden past and discovers his own identity.

Common Carnage
Stephen Dobyns
Penguin Poets [811-Dobyns]
69 poems meditating on the tragedies of life—modern and Homeric, epic and mundane.

The Discovery of Heaven
Harry Mulisch, Translated by Paul Vincent
Viking [FIC-M]
The fated meeting of an astronomer and linguist begins the staggering process by which God will break His covenant with humankind.

Dr. Neruda's Cure for Evil
Rafael Yglesias
Warner [FIC-Y]
A Cuban-American psychiatrist explains his obsession with the nature of evil through a detailed examination of his life and work.

The Earth Dwellers: Adventures in the Land of Ants
Erich Hoyt
Simon &
Schuster [595.796-H]
An enthralling portrait of the highly developed insect communities in our midst.

Emerson Among the Eccentrics: A Group Portrait
Carlos Baker
Viking [B-Emerson-B]
An illuminating look at Emerson's life and relationships with his literary peers.

Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography
Roger Shattuck
St. Martin's [809.33-S]
The noted literary scholar and critic inquires: Are there things we should NOT know?

A Heart So White
Javier Marias, Translated by Margaret Jull Costa
Harvill [FIC-M]
A chilling drama of dark family secrets and flawed relationships.

Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
Knopf [940.5318-G]
A radical re-examination of how and why the Holocaust occurred.

Inventing Wonderland: The Lives and Fantasies of Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, J. M. Barrie, Kenneth Grahame, and A. A. Milne
Jackie Wullschlager
Free Press [820.93-W]
How the depressions and repressions of five middle-aged British malse permanently affected children's literature.

Like Judgement Day: The Ruin and Redemption of a Town Called Rosewood
Michael D'Orso
Putnam [975.977-D]
A vivid account of a community's destruction and the search for justice long denied.

Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn
David Hajdu
Farrar [B-Strayhorn-H]
Strayhorn is propelled from the shadow of Duke Ellington and is accorded his rightful niche in the jazz canon.

Middle Son
Deborah Iida
Algonquin [FIC-I]
Unspoken secrets unite brothers in this story of a Japanese-Hawaiian family.

The Moor's Last Sigh
Salman Rushdie
Pantheon [FIC-R]
Set against the backdrop of 20th-century India, a young man recounts the epic tale of his bizarre family.

Of Tigers and Men: Entering the Age of Extinction
Richard Ives
Doubleday [599.7442-I]
An exciting and moving account of the search for the doomed wild tiger.

Reading Jazz: A Gathering of Autobiography, Reportage, and Criticism from 1919 to Now
Edited by Robert Gottlieb
Pantheon [785.42-R]
Talking jazz—its originality, depth, variety, and power.

Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey
Hayden Carruth
Copper Canyon [811-Carruth]
Youth is wasted on the young—Carruth's poems shine with the awareness and sensitivity that age and experience bring.

Ship Fever and Other Stories
Andrea Barrett
Norton [FIC-B]
Barrett's scientifically infused stories display and uncommon understanding of the human condition.

Akira Yoshimura, Translated by Mark Ealey
Harcourt [FIC-Y]
A fable of survival in a medieval Japanese fishing village.

The Sparrow
Mary Doria Russell
Villard [FIC-R]
A Jesuit expedition to a distant planet has tragic results.

We Were the Mulvaneys
Joyce Carol Oates
Dutton [FIC-O]
When you can't protect the ones you love, it can tear you apart.

These books were selected by the following committee from the staff of The New York Public Library:
Janet Campano, Co-Chair
Nancy A. Farrell, Co-Chair
Rita E. Neri
Alice C. Phillips
Richard Reyes-Gavilan
Gwendolyn Taylor-Davis
Michael W. Watkins