Red Wine Book Club

Reading is like white water rafting: In the thrill of the waves, it is good to have a guide and a group with which to share the experience.

December 31, 2005

Best Books 2005

From the New York Times

Fiction author KAFKA ON THE SHORE
By Haruki Murakami.
Alfred A. Knopf, $25.95.
This graceful and dreamily cerebral novel, translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel, tells two stories - that of a boy fleeing an Oedipal prophecy, and that of a witless old man who can talk to cats - and is the work of a powerfully confident writer.
Review
First Chapter
Featured Author author

ON BEAUTY

By Zadie Smith.
Penguin Press, $25.95.
In her vibrant new book, a cultural-politics novel set in a place like Harvard, the author of ''White Teeth'' brings everything to the table: a crisp intellect, a lovely wit and enormous sympathy for the men, women and children who populate her story.
Review author

PREP

By Curtis Sittenfeld.
Random House, $21.95. Paper, $13.95.
This calm and memorably incisive first novel, about a scholarship girl who heads east to attend an elite prep school, casts an unshakable spell and has plenty to say about class, sex and character.
Review
First Chapter author

SATURDAY

By Ian McEwan.
Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $26.
As bracing and as carefully constructed as anything McEwan has written, this astringent novel traces a day in the life of an English neurosurgeon who comes face to face with senseless violence.
Review
First Chapter
Featured Author author

VERONICA

By Mary Gaitskill.
Pantheon Books, $23.
This mesmerizingly dark novel from the author of ''Bad Behavior'' and ''Two Girls, Fat and Thin'' is narrated by a former Paris model who is now sick and poor; her ruminations on beauty and cruelty have clarity and an uncanny bite.
Review

Nonfiction

author THE ASSASSINS' GATE
America in Iraq

By George Packer.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.
A comprehensive look at the largest foreign policy gamble in a generation, by a New Yorker reporter who traces the full arc of the war, from the pre-invasion debate through the action on the ground.
Review
First Chapter
George Packer Answers Readers' Questions author

DE KOONING
An American Master

By Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan.
Alfred A. Knopf, $35.
A sweeping biography, impressively researched and absorbingly written, of the charismatic immigrant who stood at the vortex of mid-20th-century American art.
Review
Slide Show

author THE LOST PAINTING
By Jonathan Harr.
Random House, $24.95.
This gripping narrative, populated by a beguiling cast of scholars, historians, art restorers and aging nobles, records the search for Caravaggio's ''Taking of Christ,'' painted in 1602 and rediscovered in 1990.
Review
First Chapter author

POSTWAR
A History of Europe Since 1945
By Tony Judt.
The Penguin Press, $39.95.
Judt's massive, learned, brilliantly detailed account of Europe's recovery from the wreckage of World War II presents a whole continent in panorama even as it sets off detonations of insight on almost every page.
Review

author THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING
By Joan Didion.
Alfred A. Knopf, $23.95.
A prose master's harrowing yet exhilarating memoir of a year riven by sudden death (her husband's) and mortal illness (their only child's).
Review
A Profile of Joan Didion
Audio: An Interview
Featured Author
An Essay Adapted From 'The Year of Magical Thinking'

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