This year there are three stand-out winners, which is not usually the case. These are all major books which virtually everyone should read, at least provided you read non-fiction (fiction) at all:
1. Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence has Declined. My review is here.
3. Haruki Murakami, IQ84. I haven’t finished it yet, but I feel confident putting it on the list (I’m about one-third through). I even agree with many of the reservations expressed in this review but the book is nonetheless a major achievement. There are dozens of reviews here.
Here is the (lame) PW list of the ten best books of the year. And if you are wondering, I have sour impressions of the new Eco and Joan Didion books.
Soon I’ll prepare a longer list of my favorite books of the last year, in part for your gift-giving purposes.