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Hal Niedzviecky, author of The Peep Diaries, holds the recent issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, which lists his book as one of 25 Books You Can't Put Down. (Della Rollins for the Globe and Mail) (Della Rollins)
Hal Niedzviecky, author of The Peep Diaries, holds the recent issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, which lists his book as one of 25 Books You Can't Put Down. (Della Rollins for the Globe and Mail) (Della Rollins)

The 2009 Globe Books 100

Social studies Add to ...

To read the Globe's review of the books listed here, click on the title.



THE TALL MAN: The Death of Doomadgee By Chloe Hooper, Scribner, 251 pages, $32

Australia's best work of literature so far this century is a non-fiction account of aboriginal tragedy. The book is The Tall Man, an account of the pointless death of a black man in police custody on tropical Palm Island, off Australia's northeast coast, but it is in fact hugely more than that. It's a haunting moral maze, described with such intimate observation and exquisite restraint that I kept pausing to take a breath and silently cheer the author. Chloe Hooper has more than done justice to a worthy story: She has produced an Australian classic. Robert Drewe

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THE PEEP DIARIES: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors By Hal Niedzviecki, City Lights, 296 pages, $18.95

Social critic and indie-culture poster boy Hal Niedzviecki explores, with humour and insight, how we got hooked up to this IV drip of perpetual connectivity, of watching and being watched. It's a great read; it mixes frank interviews with people pushing the boundaries of voyeurism and exhibitionism, alongside a bracing critique of the social context that got us into peep culture and the forces that now exploit our participation in it. Nora Young

ZEITOUN By Dave Eggers, McSweeney's, 351 pages, $30.95

Zeitoun is the story of Syrian-American businessman Abdulrahman Zeitoun. During Hurricane Katrina, Zeitoun, a devout Muslim, canoes the swamped streets, rescuing and feeding stranded neighbours, checking on his buildings and tending to abandoned dogs -- until police and soldiers arrest him on vague charges of theft and treat him abominably. In telling his story in an unadorned style, Eggers reveals himself as an important writer with a big heart, as conscientious as he is prolific. Pasha Malla

TRAUMA FARM: A Rebel History of Rural Life By Brian Brett, GreyStone, 373 pages, $35

Brett distills 18 years of experience of rural life into a single day. He hangs meditations of farm life, observations on biology and botany, and musings about the modern world on this Joycean structure. His writing is so vivid, the observations so telling, that a reader can virtually feel the smooth heft of a collected egg in the palm of a hand. Brett's wise and witty work - which this week won the Writers' Trust Non-Fiction prize - makes a compelling case for a simpler existence in a rural world. Ingeborg Boyens

THE IDEA OF JUSTICE By Amartya Sen, Belknap Press/Harvard University Press, 468 pages, $35.95

This book by a Nobel Prize-winning economist takes on difficult subjects and respectfully follows centuries of philosophical debate while imaginatively rethinking them. At its centre is an argument for political process as an essential element of human interaction. Even more, it is an argument for political pluralism. A call for civility in the best sense of the word, and a model of gracious intellectual engagement. Paula Newberg

MANHOOD FOR AMATEURS: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son By Michael Chabon, HarperCollins, 306 pages, $32.99

The various roles and functions of the "husband, father and son" that is Michael Chabon preoccupy Manhood for Amateurs. The majority of the 39 forays into "amateur" manhood are hilarious and all of them contain insights. A few are outright pioneering. Line for line, Chabon is also a blazing stylist. His prose is elegant, alert and no less inclined than his imagination to follow a notion, a riff, even simply a cadence, wherever it leads him. Charles Foran

EATING ANIMALS By Jonathan Safran Foer, Little, Brown, 252 pages, $31.99

Here's a young, hot-shot American novelist taking on a tough non-fiction topic like factory farming, devoting three years of his life to researching and interviewing slaughterhouse workers, small-scale ranchers and various animal activists. He has emerged with an accessible, snappily written work destined for mainstream media focus and a wide readership, even among the thinking classes who have done their level darnedest not to think about who's on the end of their fork and how he or she got there. Erika Ritter

THE WAYFINDERS: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World By Wade Davis, Anansi, 263 pages, $19.95

Wade Davis goes far afield and presents many striking cases of so-called primitive cultures that made mind-boggling contributions to the sum total of human knowledge, before being overrun by the juggernaut of progress. Why does ancient wisdom matter? Because these people lived on Earth for millennia without destroying it, whereas Europeans have been "improving" the New World (having already trashed the Old) for barely 500 years, and have brought it to the edge of ecological extinction. Wayne Grady





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