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25 Books to Remember from 1997


Books to Remember is an annual list of 25 titles chosen for their distinct and lasting contribution to literature and/or 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.

American Catholic: The Saints and Sinners Who Built America's Most Powerful Church
Charles R. Morris
Times Books
An insightful history of the American Catholic tradition and its challenges.

The American Century: Varieties of Culture in Modern Times
Norman F. Cantor
Picture Essays by Mindy Cantor
The cultural quilt of the twentieth-century, pieced by distinctly individual scholar.

Peter Cameron
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
A man trying to leave his past behind finds his memories eerily recreated.

Black Zodiac
Charles Wright
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Famous saints, poets, and belletrists serve as an inspiration in these ruminative poems.

A Book of Memories
Peter Nadas
Translated by Ivan Sanders with Imre Goldstein
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
A nameless writer's sordid tale sets the framework for this Hungarian tour de force.

The Church of Dead Girls
Stephen Dobyns
Metropolitan/Henry Holt
The disappearance of three girls from a small town provokes fear and suspicion.

Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World
Mark Kurlansky
Savory account of the once-thriving North Atlantic codfish industry.

The Collected Poems Of Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde
The definitive edition of the work of the great poet and activist.

Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest To Solve The World's Greatest Mathematical Problem
Simon Singh
An account of the mathematical event of the century: a 360-year-old theorem proved.

The First Moderns: Profiles In The Origins Of Twentieth-Century Thought
William R. Everdell
University of Chicago
Modernism's bright morning view from the shaded vantage of the millennium.

The God of Small Things
Arundhati Roy
Random House
Young twins Rahel and Estha learn the rules governing love and innocence in conflict-torn India.

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Jared Diamond
Why some societies have prospered while others have not.

How The Mind Works
Steven Pinker
Explains just that, coherently and accessibly.

In The Memory of the Forest
Charles T. Powers
An ordinary farmer's murder investigation shatters fifty years of silence in a small Polish town.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Memoirs of a Geisha
Arthur Golden
A portrait of a woman which illuminates a lifestyle and culture not well known outside Japan.

New and Selected Poems: 1975-1995
Thomas Lux
Houghton Mifflin
Extravagant and evocative images make this a memorable collection of poems.

Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb
Bernard Lefkowitz
University of California
How unquestioning adulation of high school athletes, pervasive in suburban communities, resulted in a heinous crime.

Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America
John M. Barry
Simon & Schuster
A raging river's chaos and destruction alters the country's landscape.

The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade: 1440-1870
Hugh Thomas
Simon & Schuster
Gripping, comprehensive survey based on original sources and eyewitness accounts.

Space Is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra
John F. Szwed
A self-proclaimed representative from Saturn re-invents himself and jazz.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments
David Foster Wallace
Little, Brown
Hilarious nonfiction pieces which examine the foibles and follies of contemporary life in the United States.

Patrick Chamoiseau
Translated by Rose-Myriam Rejouis and Val Vinokurov
Colorful, fictional history of the Caribbean after slavery.

Don DeLillo
An epic of Cold War-life in America, rendered with the precision of an atomic clock.

Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell
Deborah Solomon
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Innocently romantic? Sexually repressed? The drama of an artist's life.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Haruki Murakami
Translated by Jay Rubin
A Japanese Everyman loses his cat and his wife, and begins a journey of spiritual discovery.

These books were selected by the following committee from the staff of The New York Public Library:
Frank Collerius
John Flood
Alene E. Moroni
Richard Reyes-Gavilan
Michael W. Watkins
Rita Neri, Co-chair
Gwendolyn Taylor-Davis, Co-chair