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25 Books to Remember from 1998


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.

About a Boy
Nick Hornby
A childless man visits a single parents group to pick up women and gets more than he bargained for.

A Beautiful Mind
Sylvia Nasar
Simon & Schuster
Nobel Laureate mathematician John F. Nash’s descent into schizophrenia and his struggle to regain his mind and family.

Birthday Letters
Ted Hughes
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
In these elegiac poems Hughes breaks the silence over his years with Sylvia Plath.

Jose Saramago
Translated by Giovanni Pontiero
Harcourt Brace
What would happen if everyone, suddenly, could not see?

Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War
Tony Horwitz
Pantheon Books
The war is not over—and the South is signing up more recruits.

The Farming of Bones
Edwidge Danticat
Soho Press
The 1937 massacre of Haitians in the Dominican Republic is witnessed with beauty and loss competing measure for measure.

Final Vinyl Days
Jill McCorkle
Algonquin Books
Stories that explore the quirkier side of life, love, and human relationships.

Hen Frigates: Wives of Merchant Captains Under Sail
Joan Druett
Simon & Schuster
Nineteenth century oceangoing wives' adventures and hardships at sea.

An Instance of the Fingerpost
Iain Pears
Four witnesses tell their versions of a murder—only one is telling the truth.

The Knife Thrower and Other Stories
Steven Millhauser
Like an unseen caress, these stories both comfort and startle.

The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets
David Lehman
The cultural history of four poets and the literary movement they lived.

Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America
Ellen Schrecker
Little, Brown
An objective perspective on a time of hatred and mistrust in America.

Mendel’s Dwarf
Simon Mawer
Harmony Books/Crown
The perils of genetic science frame this tragicomic love story about a dwarf searching for the meaning of normality.

Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull
Barbara Goldsmith
The ribald collision of suffragettes and spiritualists through the lens of Woodhull’s life.

The Poisonwood Bible
Barbara Kingsolver
A missionary family struggles to survive amid the chaos and intrigue of postcolonial Congo.

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary
Simon Winchester
While in a lunatic asylum, a murderer contributes to the compilation of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Jim Crace
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Forty days in the desert lead to an unexpected awakening.

The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators
Gordon Grice
Delacorte Press
Essays on the habits of several everyday monsters—you will never look at your dog or ham sandwich the same way again.

The Road to Ubar: Finding the Atlantis of the Sands
Nicholas Clapp
Houghton Mifflin
An Arabian city vanished 1500 years ago—and is found by modern science.

Slaves in the Family
Edward Ball
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
An inquisitive descendant of slaveholders examines the racial and emotional hearts of his predecessors.

Strangers in the Night: A Brief History of Life on Other Worlds
David E. Fisher and Marshall J. Fisher
A history of the search for life on other planets that looks beyond little green men.

Sweet Machine: Poems
Mark Doty
An award-winning poet’s call to life and its human pleasures, errors, and dreams.

The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?
David Brin
Perseus Books
Is somebody watching you? Should they be?

The Voice Imitator
Thomas Bernhard
Translated by Kenneth J. Northcott
Univ. of Chicago Press
104 one-page stories satirize the tragedies of modern life.

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda
Philip Gourevitch
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
A journalist relates stories of an unimaginable genocide.

This is The New York Public Library's 43rd annual Books to Remember list. This list was chosen by the following committee of librarians: Philip Clark, Frank Collerius (co-chair), Andrea Copeland, Katherine Ellsworth, John Flood (co-chair), Lawrence Kapture, Alene E. Moroni, and Christopher Platt.