holiday season is upon us, and from every corner we
find ourselves asked to make sense of the avalanche
of books that threatens to bury us in tale upon tale.
It is, of course, the work of Sisyphus, but we'd have
it no other way. More than 100,000 books are anually
published in the United states. Here at the Los Angeles
Times we have space enough to note and review about
1,500 titles during the year. More nonfiction is published
than fiction, and so our reviews follow suit.
among the universe of the worthy is an inherently
fraught process, forcing us to feel much as a World
War I surgeon might have felt on the battlefield
of Verdun: It's triage every day. Nevertheless,
without apology and immodestly, we offer those books
that in the opinion of our diverse contributors
are among the very best of 2003. We also take this
opportunity to single out 20 titles that, in our
judgement, are the best of the best.