My Previous Best Books: 2001, 2002, 2003.
I read 32 books in 2004.
My favorite for the year was Word of Honor, by Nelson DeMille. Mr. DeMille has been writing books since 1978, but this was my first DeMille story. If they're all like this then I'm going to enjoy reading his works.
Word of Honor follows the tribulations and trials of Ben Tyson, a business executive who served in Vietnam. His good name becomes the subject of a controversial book about Vietnam, asserting that Ben Tyson's squad killed civilians in a skirmish there. The resulting publicity and military trial put him at odds with his family, his government, his community, and his own self-image. I was swept away by Ben's story, his feelings, and the way he handled himself. This is a terrific book.
I want to highlight two others from my year of serious reading. I'd consider these selections "second favorites" from 2004.
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen is incredible. It's a literary masterpiece. The Corrections contains such rich detail that you are completely encased in his narrative. There are some crazy happenings in this book about a dysfunctional family. Each family member goes under the microscope, and Mr. Franzen's prose renders the complexity of their thoughts. It's a fantastic book.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World by Haruki Murakami was recommended by my manager, and I was so very pleased with it. It's a blend of science fiction, with a dash of psycho-analysis, all within the confines of a straight detective story. I'll point out that the book contains a map, and by the time you figure out what the map "really is", you'll be blown to bits. I love books that do that. Highly recommended.