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The Best Books of 2004

Welcome to's second annual Best Books of the Year. Our editors and reviewers have kept their lists throughout the year, and these are the books that all had that special quality that made them outstanding. The books are listed in alphabetical order, by genre.

Children's and Young Adult | Fantasy/SF/Horror | General Fiction
Mystery/Thriller | Nonfiction | Romance

Best Children's and Young Adult
Books of 2004

  • Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War by Clive Barker (Joanna Cotler Books)

  • Beyond the Deepwoods (The Edge Chronicles, Book 1) by Paul Stewart, Illustrated by Chris Riddell (David Fickling Books)

  • The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint (Viking)

  • Clovermead: In the Shadow of the Bear by David Randall (Margaret K. McElderry)

  • Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke (Chicken House)

  • Fish by L.S. Matthews (Delacorte)

  • The Grim Grotto: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 11 by Lemony Snicket (HarperCollins)

  • A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins)

  • It's Hard to be Five: Learning How to Work My Control Panel by Jamie Lee Curtis, Illustrated by Laura Cornell (Joanna Cotler Books)

  • Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle (Philomel)

  • Pendragon: Black Water by D.J. MacHale (Aladdin Books)

  • The Secret of Castle Cant by K.P. Bath (Little, Brown)

  • Sign of the Qin by L.G. Bass (Hyperion)

  • The Singer of All Songs by Kate Constable (Arthur A. Levine)

  • Snow-Walker by Catherine Walker (Eos)

    Best Fantasy/SF/Horror Books of 2004

  • Ancestors of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Diana L. Paxon (Viking)

  • The Burning Land by Victoria Strauss (Eos)

  • Counterfeit Kings by Adam Connell (Phobos Books)

  • The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower, Book 7) by Stephen King, Illustrated by Michael Whelan (Donald M. Grant)

  • Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong (Bantam Spectra)

  • Horizon Storms: Saga of the Seven Suns, Book 3 by Kevin J. Anderson (Warner)

  • The Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay (Roc)

  • Marvel 1602, Volume 1 (Marvel Heroes) by Neil Gaiman, Andy Kubert, Richard Isanove (Illustrator)

  • Resurrection by Steve Alten (Forge)

  • The Scrolls of the Ancients: Volume III of the Chronicles of Blood and Stone by Robert Newcomb (Del Rey)

  • Seduced by Moonlight by Laurell K. Hamilton (Ballantine)

  • Singularity by Bill DeSmedt (Per Aspera)

  • Sliding Scales by Alan Dean Foster (Del Rey)

  • Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde (Viking)

  • The System of the World (The Baroque Cycle, Book 3) by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow)

  • Veiled Alliances by Kevin J. Anderson, Illustrations by Robert Teranishi (DC Comics)

    Best General Fiction Novels of 2004

  • Beautiful Ghosts by Elliot Pattison (St. Martin's Minotaur)

  • The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates (Ecco)

  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

  • Hadrian's Wall by William Dietrich (HarperCollins)

  • I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

  • The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler (Marian Wood)

  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)

  • The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier (Dutton)

  • The Master by Colm Tóibín (Scribner)

  • My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (Atria)

  • The Plot Against America by Philip Roth (Houghton Mifflin)

  • Runaway by Alice Munro (Knopf)

  • Snow by Orhan Pamuk (Knopf)

  • The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson (Little, Brown)

  • War Trash by Ha Jin (Pantheon)

    Best Mystery/Thrillers of 2004

  • Absolute Friends by John Le Carré (Back Bay Books)

  • Brimstone by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Warner Books)

  • The Burglar on the Prowl by Lawrence Block (William Morrow)

  • California Girl by T. Jefferson Parker (William Morrow)

  • The Coil by Gayle Lynds (St. Martin's Press)

  • A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva (Putnam)

  • The Enemy by Lee Child (Delacorte)

  • The Feng Shui Detective by Nury Vittachi (Thomas Dunne)

  • Hard Revolution by George Pelecanos (Little, Brown)

  • Little Scarlet by Walter Mosley (Little, Brown)

  • The Perfumed Sleeve by Laura Joh Rowland (St. Martin's Minotaur)

  • The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason (Dial Press)

  • Sandstorm by James Rollins (HarperCollins)

  • Singularity by Bill DeSmedt (Per Aspera Press)

  • Wolves Eat Dogs by Martin Cruz Smith (Simon and Schuster)

    Best Nonfiction Books of 2004

  • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (Penguin Press)

  • Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror by Richard Clarke (Free Press)

  • America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction by Jon Stewart, with the writers of the Daily Show (Warner Books)

  • Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib by Seymour M. Hersh (HarperCollins)

  • Cover Up: What the Government is Still Hiding on the War on Terror by Peter Lance (ReganBooks)

  • Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss (Gotham)

  • The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague In History by John M. Barry (Viking Books)

  • Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror by Anonymous (Brassey's)

  • Nemesis by Peter Evans (ReganBooks)

  • Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward (Simon and Schuster)

  • The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill by Ron Suskind (Simon & Schuster)

  • Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival by Dean King (Little, Brown)

  • The Terror Timeline: Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute: A Comprehensive Chronicle of the Road to 9/11 -- and America's Response by Paul Thompson (ReganBooks)

  • Where the Right Went Wrong: How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency by Patrick J. Buchanan (Thomas Dunne Books)

  • Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt (Norton)

    The Best Romance Novels of 2004

  • The Barbarian by Judith E. French (Leisure)

  • Beauty Queen by Julia London (Berkley Sensation)

  • Code Name: Princess by Christina Skye (Dell)

  • The Color of Death by Elizabeth Lowell (William Morrow)

  • Dark Destiny by Christine Feehan (Leisure Books)

  • Dead Even by Mariah Stewart (Ballantine)

  • Hot Target by Suzanne Brockmann (Ballantine)

  • The Ideal Bride by Stephanie Laurens (William Morrow)

  • The Immortal Highlander by Karen Marie Moning (Delacorte)

  • Kiss of Fate by Mary Jo Putney (Ballantine)

  • Northern Lights by Nora Roberts (Putnam)

  • The Paid Companion by Amanda Quick (Putnam)

  • The Power of Two by Patti O'Shea (Love Spell)

  • Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas (Avon)

  • A Visit From Sir Nicholas by Victoria Alexander (Avon)

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