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This year's Puddly Awards ceremony went off without a hitch. If not for the extra cost incurred due to unseasonably dry weather (producers had no choice but to truck in clouds and rain; otherwise, what good are galoshes?), it might have been the smoothest undertaking in the five-year history of the event. For those of you who missed it, the top fifty vote-getters in our people's choice awards are listed here.
this way to last year's puddly winners

The 2004 Golden Galoshes

The Da Vinci Code

Seabiscuit: An American Legend


#1
The Da Vinci Code
by Dan Brown

The Da Vinci Code "Dan Brown has to be one of the best, smartest, and most accomplished writers in the country. The Da Vinci Code is many notches above the intelligent thriller; this is pure genius." Nelson DeMille
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt online
#2
Life of Pi
by Yann Martel

Life of Pi "Those who would believe that the art of fiction is moribund — let them read Yann Martel with astonishment." Alberto Manguel
     read more about this title
     read an exclusive essay by Yann Martel

#3
The Secret Life of Bees
by Sue Monk Kidd


The Secret Life of Bees
"Sue Monk Kidd's eccentric, inventive, and ultimately forgiving novel is reminiscent of the work of Reynolds Price in its ability to create a truly original Southern voice." Anita Shreve
     read more about this title

#4
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
by J.K. Rowling


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix "If [Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire] was the work of a born storyteller still sorting out her technique, Phoenix is the smooth product of a natural at the top of her game." Laura Miller, Salon
     read more about this title
     see a full selection of Harry Potter titles

#5
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time "I have never read anything quite like Mark Haddon's funny and agonizingly honest book, or encountered a narrator more vivid and memorable. I advise you to buy two copies; you won't want to lend yours out." Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha
     read more about this title
     read the Powells.com interview with Mark Haddon
#6
Middlesex
by Jeffrey Eugenides

Middlesex
"Middlesex isn't just a respectable sophomore effort; it's a towering achievement, and it can now be stated unequivocally that Eugenides' initial triumph wasn't a one-off or a fluke. He has emerged as the great American writer that many of us suspected him of being." Jeff Turrentine, The Los Angeles Times
     read more about this title
     read the Powells.com interview with Jeffrey Eugenides

#7
Cerulean Sins: An Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Novel
by Laurell K. Hamilton

Cerulean Sins
"Anita Blake is one of the more fascinating fictional heroines since Scarlet O'Hara — and a hell of a lot more fun than most....There's plenty of the hot stuff, but it's presented with a certain morality and definite hilarity....the author is back on track with the best Blake yet." Publishers Weekly
     read more about this title
#8
The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger

Bel Canto
"Inspired by her grandparents love story in which the grandmother outlived her husband by nearly three decades, Niffenegger has invented Henry and Clare, and their unique and complicated love story involving the ability to live in the past and future in an unpredictable parallel. Delightful, imaginative, with an unforgettable conclusion." Donna Kane, Powells.com
     read more about this title
#9
The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones "Don't start Lovely Bones unless you can finish it. The book begins with more horror than you could imagine, but closes with more beauty than you could hope for....emotionally, it's faultless. Sebold never slips as she follows this family. The risks she walks are enough to give you vertigo." Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor
     read the entire CSM review
     read more about this title
     read the Powells.com interview with Alice Sebold
#10
Bel Canto
by Ann Patchett

Bel Canto
"This is a story of passionate, doomed love; of the glory of art; of the triumph of our shared humanity over the forces that divide us, and a couple of other unbearably cheesy themes, and yet Patchett makes it work, completely." Laura Miller, Salon
     read the entire Salon review
     read more about this title
     read the Powells.com interview with Ann Patchett

#11
Lord of the Rings Trilogy
by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Lord of the Rings "A unique, wholly realized other world, evoked from deep in the well of time, massively detailed, absorbingly entertaining, profound in meaning." New York Times Book Review
     read more about this title
     visit our Lord of the Rings page

#12
Seabiscuit: An American Legend
by Laura Hillenbrand


Seabiscuit
"In telling the Cinderella story of Seabiscuit and his devoted trainer, owner and jockey, the author, Laura Hillenbrand, has written an absorbing book that stands as the model of sportswriting at its best." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times Book Review
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt

#13
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
by Erik Larson


The Devil in the White City
"You've got to respect a book that makes you keep flipping to the back cover, double-checking that it is nonfiction. Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City seems like something from the mind of, say, Thomas Harris. But it is, in fact, true. A gruesome and gripping book....[T]he heart of the story is so good, you find yourself asking how you could not know this already." Adrienne Miller, Esquire
     read the entire Esquire review
     read more about this title
     read the Powells.com interview with Erik Larson

#14
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right
by Al Franken


Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
"In the kicking, spitting spirit of current all-star political discourse, Al Franken gives as good as he gets....Funnier here than he was in his previous Oh, The Things I Know!, Mr. Franken also has a serious agenda." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
     read more about this title

#15
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
by Michael Chabon


The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
"The depth of Chabon’s thought, his sharp language, his inventiveness and his ambition make this a novel of towering achievement." Ken Kalfus, The New York Times Book Review
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt
     read the Powells.com interview with Michael Chabon

#16
Atonement
by Ian McEwan


"[T]he fineness of the book as a novel, as a distinguished and complex evocation of English life before and during the war, burns away the theoretical, and implants in the memory a living, flaming presence." James Wood, The New Republic
     read the entire New Republic review
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt

#17
The Eyre Affair
by Jasper Fforde


"Through the miracle of literary-genetic engineering, Jasper Fforde has crossbred Jane Eyre with James Bond and Harry Potter....This is about as much fun as you can have in the classics section without being thrown out of the library. To those students who swore they wouldn't reread Jane Eyre 'til Hades freezes over, I have good news: He's out cold. Start reading." Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor
     read the entire CSM review
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt

#18
The Fortress of Solitude
by Jonathan Letham


"The book is a Bildungsroman in the exact sense, the story of Dylan's self-development in the context of place and time. It's also a comedy, a history and a fantasy, where the strange and supernatural mix freely with the solid and austere, as they do in life, in memory, in everyone's autobiography." Peter Kurth, Salon.com
     read the entire Salon review
     read more about this title

#19
Empire Falls
by Richard Russo


"In a warmhearted novel of sweeping scope.... [Russo] shows an unerring sense of the rhythms of small-town life, balancing his irreverent, mocking humor with unending empathy for his characters and their foibles" Booklist
     read more about this title

#20
All the Sundays Yet to Come: A Skater's Journey
by Kathryn Bertine


"Her book should serve as a cautionary tale for ambitious young people who hope to make it to the top in the sports world." Publishers Weekly
     read more about this title

#21
Peace Like a River
by Leif Enger


"A lean and lovingly told story, drawn from Midwestern life, sparked with moments of the miraculous." Mark Ingraham, Powells.com
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt

#22
John Adams
by David McCullough


"Given that your average American learned much of his country's history at that show at Disney World with the scary automatons in goofy Amadeus-era tights, it's no small feat that this narrative succeeds so marvelously well at rendering all these players of early American history human....Here is a book that's so good it'll make you shiver." Adrienne Miller, Esquire
     read the entire Esquire review
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt

#23
Oryx and Crake
by Margaret Atwood


"The genre of doom-laden futuristic fiction has its share of classics — such as H. G. Wells's The Time Machine, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, and George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four — and these works are now joined by Margaret Atwood's splendid novel." Richard A. Posner, The New Republic
     read the entire New Republic review
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt

#24
The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri


"[Q]uietly dazzling....[A] wonderfully intimate and knowing family portrait...a debut novel that is as assured and eloquent as the work of a longtime master of the craft." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt

#25
Angels and Demons
by Dan Brown


"[P]lenty of thrilling cat-and-mouse maneuvers and life-or-death cliffhangers....Romance, religion, science, murder, mysticism, architecture, action. Go!" Kirkus Reviews
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt

#26
East of Eden
by John Steinbeck


"A novel planned on the grandest possible scale...One of those occasions when a writer has aimed high and then summoned every ounce of energy, talent, seriousness, and passion of which he was capable...It is an entirely interesting and impressive book." The New York Herald Tribune
     read more about this title

#27
The Five People You Meet in Heaven
by Mitch Albom


"Transcendent....Albom has aimed high here, and there's a whiff of paradise as a result." Atlanta Journal Constitution
     read more about this title

#28
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
by Jon Krakauer


"[T]old with raw narrative force and tight focus....Krakauer lays the portent on beautifully, building his tales carefully from the ground up until they irresistibly, spookily combust." Kirkus Reviews
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt

#29
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
by Azar Nafisi


"Reading Lolita in Tehran is sophisticated and bursting with texture and sensuality....Nafisi picks through her memories delicately, but at every turn sensations surge through." Joy Press, Village Voice
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt

#30
The Crimson Petal and the White
by Michel Faber


"[An] enthralling melodrama....It's hard to imagine...that readers who hunger for story won't devour this like grateful wolves. Riveting, and absolutely unforgettable." Kirkus Reviews
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt
     read the Powells.com interview with Michel Faber

#31
A Fine Balance
by Rohinton Mistry


"[T]hose who continue to harp on the decline of the novel...ought to consider Rohinton Mistry. He needs no infusion of magic realism to vivify the real. The real world, through his eyes, is magical." The New York Times
     read more about this title
     reading group guide
     read an excerpt

#32
Three Junes
by Julia Glass


"Three Junes has the rich pleasures of a ninetenth-century novel and the rush of New York life of the last ten years. I'm amazed it's a first novel — it is a mature, captivating work of fiction." John Casey
     read more about this title
     read an exclusive essay by Julia Glass
     read an excerpt

#33
Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles
by Anthony Swofford

"Yes, there have been many, many books about combat in the Gulf War, but none as beautifully written or as ferocious as Jarhead. Anthony Swofford's account of his life on the front lines is so honest and uncompromising as to be brutal." Adrienne Miller, Esquire
     read the entire Esquire review
     read more about this title
     read the Powells.com interview with Anthony Swofford

#34
Dude, Where's My Country?
by Michael Moore

"Michael Moore is everything the contemporary politician isn't. He is smart, brash, profane, hilarious, beholden to no one, and genuine in his devotion to the country." The Denver Post
     read more about this title

#35
The Big Rumpus: A Mother's Tale from the Trenches
by Ayun Halliday

"The Big Rumpus is positively the best mothering memoir I've read by a straight-tawkin', breast-feeding, xenophilic, world-traveling, Indiana-reared, New York City transplant. I stayed up past my bedtime reading it, no lie. The gal can write." Chris Dodge, Utne Reader
     read more about this title
     read an exclusive essay by Ayun Halliday

#36
Cold Mountain
by Charles Frazier

"Novelists are never in short supply. Natural-born storytellers come along only rarely. Charles Frazier joins the ranks of that elite cadre on the first page of his astonishing debut." Newsweek
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt
     reading group guide

#37
The Corrections
by Jonathan Franzen

"No one book, of course, can provide everything we want in a novel. But a book as strong as The Corrections seems ruled only by its own self-generated aesthetic: it creates the illusion of giving a complete account of a world, and while we're under its enchantment it temporarily eclipses whatever else we may have read." David Gates, The New York Times Book Review
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt
     read the Powells.com interview with Jonathan Franzen

#38
Everything Is Illuminated
by Jonathan Safran Foer

"One of the most impressive first novels in a long time....[T]his book is, as its name implies, brilliant." Adrienne Miller, Esquire
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt

#39
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
by Alexander McCall Smith

"One of the best, most charming, honest, hilarious and life-affirming books to appear in years." The Plain Dealer
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt
     author Q & A

#40
Quicksilver: Volume One of The Baroque Cycle
by Neal Stephenson

"[T]he great trick of Quicksilver is that it makes you ponder concepts and theories you initially think you'll never understand, and its greatest pleasure is that Stephenson is such an enthralling explainer....[A] wonderment to behold. (Grade: A-)" Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt
     author Q & A

#41
A Short History of Nearly Everything
by Bill Bryson

"This is great for Bryson fans, who can encounter this material in its barest essence with the bonus of having it served up in Bryson's distinctive voice....[T]o read Bryson is to travel with a memoirist gifted with wry observation and keen insight that shed new light on things we mistake for commonplace." Publishers Weekly
     read more about this title
     read the Powells.com interview with Bill Bryson

#42
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
Eric Schlosser

"The book's revelations are shocking. About half the pages of my copy are covered with underlined passages and exclamation points in the margins." Dave, Powells.com
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt
     read the Powells.com interview with Eric Schlosser

#43
The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?
by Rick Warren

"If you only read one book on what life is all about — make it this one! Rick Warren is absolutely brilliant at explaining our real purpose in the world and making the complex understandable. Read this book, then give it to everyone you care about." Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ
     read more about this title

#44
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal
by Christopher Moore

"[A]s in Moore's other books, the jokes, ranging from the sublime to the sophisticated to the utterly sophomoric, make the book. What Lamb lacks in theological sophistication it more than compensates with mirth....simply impossible not to laugh." John Green, Booklist
     read more about this title

#45
The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla
by Stephen King

"King does not fail us....Fans will delight not only in King's continued gleeful intertwining of multiple genres but perhaps most of all in the return of Salem's Lot's Father Callahan." Library Journal
     read more about this title

#46
The Hours
by Michael Cunningham

"Steeped in the work and life of Virginia Woolf, Cunningham offers up a sequel to the work of the great author, complete with her own pathos and brilliance....[G]orgeous, Woolfian, shimmering, perfectly-observed prose. Hardly a false note in an extraordinary carrying on of a true greatness that doubted itself." Kirkus Reviews
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt

#47
The Master Butchers Singing Club
by Louise Erdrich

"All of the virtues of Erdrich's best works...are on full display in this superb novel....With its lush prose, jolts of wisdom and historical sweep, this story is as rich and resonant as any Erdrich has told." Publishers Weekly
     read more about this title

#48
The Poisonwood Bible
by Barbara Kingsolver

"There are few ambitious, successful and beautiful novels. Lucky for us, we have one now, in Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible . . . this awed reviewer hardly knows where to begin." Jane Smiley, Washington Post Book World
     read more about this title

#49
You Shall Know Our Velocity!
by Dave Eggers

"You Shall Know Our Velocity! is the work of a wildly talented writer... Like Kerouac's book, Eggers's could inspire a generation as much as it documents it." LA Weekly
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt
     reading group guide

#50
The Little Friend

by Donna Tartt

"[T]he heart of this book lies in the author's successful evocation of tragedy, the power of memory, and the disintegration of innocence. What lesser hands would have turned into a Ya-Ya Sisterhood meets Nancy Drew, Tartt masterfully creates as a meticulous, haunting, and ultimately profound work." Gerry, Powells.com
     read more about this title
     read an excerpt

While we were asking you to cast your Puddly votes, we also asked our fellow Powell's employees to name the best book they read last year. As a bonus, our fifty favorites are listed here.

1 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon
2 The Lord of the Rings
by J. R. R. Tolkien
3 Middlesex
by Jeffrey Eugenides
4 Blankets
by Craig Thompson
5 Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
by Jon Krakauer
6 His Dark Materials
by Philip Pullman
7 Seabiscuit
by Laura Hillenbrand
8

Sticking to the Union: An Oral History of the Life and Times of Julia Ruuttila
by Sandy Polishuk

9 Fortress of Solitude
by Jonathan Lethem
10 Confessions of a Union Buster
by Martin Jay Levitt
11 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
by J. K. Rowling
12 Diary of a Wombat
by Jackie French
13 War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning
by Chris Hedges
14 Carter Beats the Devil
by Glen David Gold
15 Profit over People
by Noam Chomsky
16 The Da Vinci Code
by Dan Brown
17 Diary
by Chuck Palahniuk
18 Bangkok 8
by John Burdett
19 The Devil in the White City
by Erik Larson
20 The Crimson Petal and the White
by Michel Faber
21 Running with Scissors
by Augusten Burroughs
22 Jarhead
by Anthony Swofford
23 Eragon
by Christopher Paolini
24 Platform
by Michel Houellebecq
25 Set This House in Order
by Matt Ruff
26 Bel Canto
by Ann Patchett
27 Elizabeth Costello
by J. M. Coetzee
28 The House of Sand and Fog
by Andre Dubus III
29 The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger
30 The Laughing Sutra
by Mark Salzman
31 Any Human Heart
by William Boyd
32 My Life as a Fake
by Peter Carey
33 Krakatoa
by Simon Winchester
34 The Clearing
by Tim Gautreaux
35 Reading Lolita in Tehran
by Azar Nafisi
36 The Secret Life of Bees
by Sue Monk Kidd
37 Oryx and Crake
by Margaret Atwood
38 The Pleasure of My Company
by Steve Martin
39 The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint
by Brady Udall
40 Lockdown America
by Christian Parenti
41 Inkheart
by Cornelia Funke
42 Vernon God Little
by DBC Pierre
43 Mountains beyond Mountains
by Tracy Kidder
44 Pompeii
by Robert Harris
45 Saul and Patsy
by Charles Baxter
46 Train
by Pete Dexter
47 Mirror Mirror
by Gregory Maguire
48 The Cutting Room
by Louise Welsh
49 Mystic River
by Dennis Lehane
50 Persuader
by Lee Child
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