Best Books of 2005

Editors' Picks: Top 50 Books

When all the ballots were in, our choice for the best book of 2005 turned out to be the one we'd expected, the one we'd been passing among ourselves, accompanied by the word, "Wow," for the past few months. And the rest of the reading world seems to agree: The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion's searingly exact account of a daughter's illness, a husband's sudden death, and a wife and mother's bewildering grief, is becoming an instant classic, one of the greatest books by one of the best writers we have. Read the rest of our top 50 books of the year below, and see our Best of 2005 Store for more editors' picks and customers' favorites in dozens of categories.


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-27. 1776
1776
by David McCullough
4.6 out of 5 stars (1,901 customer reviews)
In Stock
Simon & Schuster
May 24, 2005
Hardcover

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Price:$21.63
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Amazon.com Review
Esteemed historian David McCullough covers the military side of the momentous year of 1776 with characteristic insight and a gripping narrative, adding new scholarship and a fresh perspective to the beginning of the American Revolution. It was a turbulent ... Read more

-26. Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior
Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior
by Temple Grandin
4.6 out of 5 stars (411 customer reviews)
In Stock
Scribner
December 28, 2004
Hardcover

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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Philosophers and scientists have long wondered what goes on in the minds of animals, and this fascinating study gives a wealth of illuminating insights into that mystery. Grandin, an animal behavior expert specializing in the design of humane slaughter systems, is autistic, and she contends that animals ... Read more

-25. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)
by J. K. Rowling
4.7 out of 5 stars (6,030 customer reviews)
In Stock
Arthur A. Levine Books
July 16, 2005
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
The long-awaited, eagerly anticipated, arguably over-hyped ... Read more

-24. God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It
God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It
by Jim Wallis
3.5 out of 5 stars (255 customer reviews)
In Stock
HarperSanFransisco
January 11, 2005
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Secular liberals and religious conservatives will find things to both comfort and alarm them in Jim Wallis's ... Read more

-23. Lunar Park
Lunar Park
by Bret Easton Ellis
3.8 out of 5 stars (164 customer reviews)
In stock on November 19, 2018
Knopf
August 16, 2005
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Book Description: Imagine becoming a bestselling novelist, and almost immediately famous and wealthy, while still in college, and before long seeing your insufferable father reduced to a bag of ashes in a safety-deposit box, while after American Psycho your celebrity drowns in a sea of vilification, ... Read more

-22. Specimen Days
Specimen Days
by Michael Cunningham
4.0 out of 5 stars (109 customer reviews)
In Stock
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
June 7, 2005
Hardcover

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-21. Teacher Man: A Memoir (The Frank McCourt Memoirs)
Teacher Man: A Memoir (The Frank McCourt Memoirs)
by Frank McCourt
4.4 out of 5 stars (523 customer reviews)
In Stock
Scribner
November 15, 2005
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
For 30 years Frank McCourt taught high school English in New York City and for much of that time he considered himself a fraud. During these years he danced a delicate jig between engaging the students, satisfying often bewildered administrators and parent... Read more

-20. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
by Malcolm Gladwell
4.3 out of 5 stars (2,712 customer reviews)
In Stock
Little, Brown and Company
January 11, 2005
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Blink is about the first two seconds of looking--the decisive glance that knows in an instant. Gladwell, the best-selling author of The Tipping Point, campaigns for snap judgments and mind reading with a gift for translating research into splendid storytelling. Building his case with scenes from a marriage, heart ... Read more

-19. Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape
Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape
by Brian Hayes
4.7 out of 5 stars (23 customer reviews)
In Stock
W. W. Norton
September 26, 2005
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
We are surrounded by the hardware of the modern world, but how much of it do we even notice, much less understand? This unique and fascinating book covers the parts of the landscape that are often overlooked despite their ubiquity--objects such as utility ... Read more

-18. The Complete New Yorker: Eighty Years of the Nation's Greatest Magazine (Book & 8 DVD-ROMs)
The Complete New Yorker: Eighty Years of the Nation's Greatest Magazine (Book & 8 DVD-ROMs)
by New Yorker
3.6 out of 5 stars (149 customer reviews)
In stock. Usually ships within 2 to 3 days.
Random House
September 20, 2005
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Fans of The New Yorker will be dazzled by The Complete New Yorker, a collection that includes every page of every issue, from full-color covers to spot drawings, from poetry to Profiles, from cartoons to advertisements--all on 8 searchable DVDs. No need to save old issues, with this package, ... Read more

-17. Veronica: A Novel
Veronica: A Novel
by Mary Gaitskill
3.4 out of 5 stars (96 customer reviews)
In Stock
Pantheon
October 11, 2005
Hardcover

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List Price:$23.00
Price:$17.99
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. [Signature]Reviewed by Heidi JulavitsImagine that Edie Sedgwick penned a roman à clef in her 50s, and that she discovered, in her ugly, diseased decrepitude, that celebrities and downtown loft spaces and skuzzy rich hangers-on were the nadir of existence. Imagine that she managed, in her own post–trauma-addled ... Read more

-16. Six Bad Things: A Novel (Henry Thompson)
Six Bad Things: A Novel (Henry Thompson)
by Charlie Huston
4.0 out of 5 stars (251 customer reviews)
In Stock
Ballantine Books
June 28, 2005
Paperback

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From Publishers Weekly
More than fulfilling the promise of Huston's 2004 debut, ... Read more

-15. The Areas of My Expertise
The Areas of My Expertise
by John Hodgman
3.8 out of 5 stars (167 customer reviews)
In Stock
Dutton
October 20, 2005
Hardcover

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List Price:$22.00
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From Publishers Weekly
In this super-literate, ultimately exhausting exercise in literary parody, ... Read more

-14. Hip Hotels Atlas
Hip Hotels Atlas
by Herbert J. M. Ypma
5.0 out of 5 stars (2 customer reviews)
In stock. Usually ships within 4 to 5 days.
Thames & Hudson
November 1, 2005
Hardcover

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Product Description
The ultimate guide to the world's most special places to stay, from the author of the best-selling Hip Hotelsseries—featuring eighty remarkable destinations, many new to this book.Herbert Ypma, creator of a whole new genre of style and travel books, has selected a galaxy of destination hotels that make travel ... Read more

-13. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
by Jared Diamond
4.3 out of 5 stars (910 customer reviews)
In stock on November 22, 2018
Penguin Group USA Inc.
December 29, 2004
Hardcover

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Price:$21.50
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Amazon.com Review
Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed is the glass-half-empty follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel. While Guns, Germs, and Steel explained the geographic and environmental reasons why some human populations have flourished, Collapse uses the same factors to examine why ancient societies, ... Read more

-12. The March: A Novel
The March: A Novel
by E. L. Doctorow
4.1 out of 5 stars (327 customer reviews)
In Stock
Random House
September 20, 2005
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
As the Civil War was moving toward its inevitable conclusion, General William Tecumseh Sherman marched 60,000 Union troops through Georgia and the Carolinas, leaving a 60-mile-wide trail of death, destruction, looting, thievery and chaos. In ... Read more

-11. China, Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World
China, Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World
by Ted C. Fishman
3.9 out of 5 stars (96 customer reviews)
In Stock
Scribner
February 1, 2005
Hardcover

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Price:$4.99
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Amazon.com Review
China has the world's most rapidly changing large economy, and according to Ted Fishman, it is forcing the world to change along with it. "No country has ever before made a better run at climbing every step of economic development all at once," he writes, ... Read more

-10. Saving Fish from Drowning
Saving Fish from Drowning
by Amy Tan
3.6 out of 5 stars (374 customer reviews)
In Stock
GP Putnam's Sons & Random House Publishing Group
October 18, 2005
Hardcover

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Price:$3.99
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Amazon.com Review
Amy Tan, who has an unerring eye for relationships between mothers and daughters, especially Chinese-American, has departed from her well-known genre in ... Read more

-9. The Star Wars Poster Book
The Star Wars Poster Book
by Peter Vilmur
4.7 out of 5 stars (22 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
Chronicle Books
October 13, 2005
Hardcover

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Product Description
One of the very first Star Wars posters had no images at all just enormous block letters that announced, "Coming to Your Galaxy This Summer: Star Wars." The rest is history. Now, 28 years later, the 350 most amazing Star Wars movie posters are collected for the first time. ... Read more

-8. Looking At Los Angeles
Looking At Los Angeles
by David L. Ulin
4.0 out of 5 stars (7 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
Metropolis Books
May 15, 2005
Hardcover

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Review
Looking at Los Angeles doesn't get mired in conventional stereotypes, but it smartly reconfigures our idea of lights, camera, action. -- ... Read more

-7. When I Knew
When I Knew
by Robert Trachtenberg
4.4 out of 5 stars (27 customer reviews)
In stock. Usually ships within 4 to 5 days.
Dey Street Books
May 31, 2005
Paperback

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List Price:$22.99
Price:$16.24
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From Publishers Weekly
When I was six," writes Tammy Lynn Michaels, "I loved my first grade teacher so much I knew I would have to grow up to be a boy so I could come back and ask her to marry me." Documentarian Trachtenberg (... Read more

-6. Mother-Daughter Wisdom: Creating a Legacy of Physical and Emotional Health
Mother-Daughter Wisdom: Creating a Legacy of Physical and Emotional Health
by Christiane Northrup
4.3 out of 5 stars (104 customer reviews)
In Stock
Bantam
February 22, 2005
Hardcover

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List Price:$28.00
Price:$4.85
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-5. Mother of Sorrows
Mother of Sorrows
by Richard McCann
4.6 out of 5 stars (25 customer reviews)
Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available.
Pantheon
April 26, 2005
Hardcover

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Price:$20.00

From Publishers Weekly
Though it is a work of fiction, this slim volume of interconnected stories... Read more

-4. The Design Of Dissent
The Design Of Dissent
by Mirko Ilić
4.7 out of 5 stars (17 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
Rockport Pub
September 1, 2005
Hardcover

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From Publishers Weekly
With a vibrant display of buttons, posters and leaflets that protest the Iraq war, the corporate media, the Israeli military and all points between, this book cuts a wide swath, indeed. Assembled by designer Glaser, best known for his I ? NY logo, and Ilic... Read more

-3. The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed
The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed
by John Vaillant
4.4 out of 5 stars (176 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
W. W. Norton & Company
May 17, 2005
Hardcover

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From Publishers Weekly
The felling of a celebrated giant golden spruce tree in British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Islands takes on a potent symbolism in this probing study of an unprecedented act of eco-vandalism. First-time author Vaillant, who originally wrote about the death ... Read more

-2. Eleanor Rigby: A Novel
Eleanor Rigby: A Novel
by Douglas Coupland
3.5 out of 5 stars (45 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
Bloomsbury USA
December 23, 2004
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Liz Dunn isn't morbid, she's just a lonely woman with a very pragmatic outlook on life. Overweight, underemployed, and living in a nondescript condo with nothing but chocolate pudding in the fridge, she has pretty much given up on anything interesting ever... Read more

-1. Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You
Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You
by Holly Black
4.7 out of 5 stars (427 customer reviews)
In Stock
Simon & Schuster
November 1, 2005
Hardcover

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List Price:$24.99
Price:$17.49
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Amazon.com Review
Spiderwick fans will adore this gorgeous guidebook to the fantastical creatures featured in Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi's ... Read more

0. The Algebraist
The Algebraist
by Iain M. Banks
3.9 out of 5 stars (128 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
Night Shade Books
September 1, 2005
Hardcover

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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Banks (Look to Windward) pulls out all the stops in this gloriously over-the-top, state-of-the-art space opera, a Hugo nominee in its British edition. In a galaxy teeming with intelligent life-forms and dominated by the intensely hierarchical society known as the Mercatoria, the Ulubis system has been cut ... Read more

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