By People Staff
December 22, 1986 12:00 PM


Bill Cosby

When our national father figure talks about the joys and pitfalls of paternity, people listen—and laugh.

The Chimpanzees of Gombe

Jane Goodall

A remarkable blend of science and primate soap opera, this summary of 26 years of fieldwork is the work of a woman who not only revels in knowledge for its own sake, but loves her fellow creatures as well.

The Story of English

Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert MacNeil

In far more detail than the TV series, this beautifully illustrated volume provides all sorts of engrossing information about our rich linguistic past.


Susan Minot

With understanding and a resigned wit, a first novel explores the confusion, pain and joy of a large family that is just trying to get along.

The Progress of Love

Alice Munro

In a year of fine short story collections, Munro’s transcendent tales of love’s difficulties are supreme.

The Sketchbooks of Picasso

Pablo Picasso

Stunningly reproduced in a handsome volume, these drawings show the initial impulse behind many works later celebrated in 20th century art.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

Oliver Sacks

The best title of the year belongs to these detective tales about some actual patients with rather strange neurological ailments.


Patrick Süskind

Strong, evocative odors seem to swirl up from the pages of this novel about a bastard-genius who would murder to create a powerful scent.

Roger’s Version

John Updike

The subject of this sublimely literate novel is whether or not God exists, and the argument is so elegantly staged that even He or She would find it hard to put the book down.

Maternal Fiction

Various authors

It is, obviously, a time when women are acutely conscious of the implications, good, bad and unfathomable, of having children—or of not having them. The subject has been examined this year in four varying but uniformly absorbing novels: Collaborators by Janet Kauffman, Enchantment by Daphne Merkin, The Good Mother by Sue Miller and Anagrams by Lorrie Moore.