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10 Best Books of 2005

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We read a lot of books in 2005. Here is the best of the best.

1. 'A Long Way Down' by Nick Hornby

In Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down, Martin, JJ, Jess, and Maureen; a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother; encounter one another on the roof of Topper's House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives.

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2. 'The Accidental' by Ali Smith

The seemingly harmless stranger named Amber turns up at the door of an English country house and turns out, to crib a line from a Hollywood film, to be the rock that they broke themselves against. The book, about how people break down and the terrifying possibilities of who they might become, is inevitably fractured by the astonishing, dizzying talent of Ali Smith's writing.

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3. 'At First Sight' by Nicholas Sparks

New Yorker, Jeremy Marsh is living in the tiny town of Boone Creek, North Carolina, married to Lexie Darnell, the love of his life, and anticipating the birth of their daughter. But, just as his life seems to be settling into a blissful pattern, an unsettling and mysterious message reopens old wounds and sets off a chain of events that will forever change the course of this young couple's marriage.

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4. 'Europe Central' by William T. Vollmann

William T. Vollmann's Europe Central is dense with allusions to art, to music, to literature, and to history. Its characters include Kurt Gerstein, Käthe Kollwitz, and generals on both sides of the Eastern front in the Second World War.

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5. 'Freddy and Fredericka' by Mark Helprin

In Mark Helprin's latest, Freddy is the Prince of Wales, Fredericka his troublesome wife. An overeducated, bumbling anachronism, Freddy commits one gaffe after another. Fredericka, frivolous and empty headed, is particularly fond of wearing spectacular clothing with revealing necklines. Because of the public relations disasters caused by these heirs to the throne, they are sent, in a little-known ancient tradition, on a quest to colonize a strange and barbarous land: America.

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6. 'The March' by E.L. Doctorow

In 1864, after Union general William Tecumseh Sherman burned Atlanta, he marched his sixty thousand troops east through Georgia to the sea, and then up into the Carolinas. The army pillaged the Southern plantations, taking cattle and crops for their own, and demolished cities. E.L. Doctorow powerfully and compassionately renders the lives of those who marched in The March.

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7. 'On Beauty' by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith made a literary splash as a twenty-five-year-old with her debut novel White Teeth. Smith's latest is a modern twist on E. M. Forster's Howard's End.

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8. 'The Story of Chicago May' by Nuala O'Faolin

This Irish woman writer who achieved international fame with a candid appraisal of her own unorthodox life has taken as her subject another daughter of Ireland, notorious criminal and unrepentant, independent woman, Chicago May.

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9. 'The Widow of the South' by Robert Hicks

Known throughout the country as "the Widow of the South," Carrie McGavock gave her heart first to a stranger, then to a tract of hallowed ground - and became a symbol of a nation's soul. The Widow of the South captures the vast madness of war, and the courage of a remarkable woman to claim life from death itself.

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10. 'The Year of Magical Thinking' by Joan Didion

A powerful memoir about the year in Joan Didion's life that began with her daughter in a medically induced coma and her husband unexpectedly dead due to a heart attack.

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