Bookplanet: NY Times 10 best books of 2005
1. KAFKA ON THE SHORE by Haruki Murakami.
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.
2. ON BEAUTY by Zadie Smith.
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.
3. PREP by Curtis Sittenfeld.
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.
4. SATURDAY by Ian McEwan.
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.
5. VERONICA by Mary Gaitskill.
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.
6. THE ASSASSINS' GATE: America in Iraq by George Packer.
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.
7. DE KOONING: An American Master by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan.
A sweeping biography, impressively researched and absorbingly written, of the charismatic immigrant who stood at the vortex of mid-20th-century American art.
8. THE LOST PAINTING by Jonathan Harr.
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.
9. POSTWAR: A History of Europe Since 1945 by Tony Judt.
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.
10. THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING by Joan Didion.
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).