Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Best of 2008

While this is not the best of 2008 books, it is the best of the books that I read in 2008. While I had hoped to reach 100 books this year, it's not going to happen. My research and writing is filling every crevice of time, and I have every belief that 2009 will be my year for success.

Enough about me - let's get to the list:

First place, and closest to a TKAM on my list, is HALF OF A YELLOW SUN by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This is ideal characterization and plotting, while dealing with a difficult topic without becoming sappy. I cannot praise it enough.

Other top books of 2008 are (in my reading calendar order):

  • GATES OF WAR, by Steven Pressfield. Long live Sparta and its rich history.
  • THE GOOD EARTH, by Pearl S. Buck. Sensual language and imagery of pre-revolutionary China.
  • FIELDWORK, by Mischa Berlinski. I always find it fascinating when someone tricks me into believing a story is "real."
  • THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY, by Michael Chabon. Early New York, comic books, Jewish history - you can't go wrong.
  • THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO, by Junot Diaz. Dominican boy with no "game" and several pop culture/80's references.
  • A CASE OF EXPLODING MANGOES, by Mohammed Hanif. An interesting take on the death of Pakistan's president in 1988 with prose that sings.
  • A THREAD OF GRACE, by Mary Doria Russell. Italy's role in WWII, as told through several point of views. Simply amazing plotting and characterization.
  • THE GIVEN DAY, by Dennis Lehane. While I hate how much I loved this book, it is a tapestry of Boston history and racism in the 1910s. Lehane, stick to this style of writing.
  • THE CONFESSIONS OF MAX TIVOLI, by Andrew Sean Greer. With the popularity of Benjamin Button, if you want to explore the idea of backward aging, read this book. Bah, read it anyway.
  • SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN, by Lisa See. Stunning historical vision with intricate layering of women's language, both spoken and written.
Honorary mention: LOTTERY, by Patricia Wood. It made me cry, and most of you readers know that is difficult for my black coal heart.


Lezlie said...

Should that be Gates of Fire? :-) (He has one called Tides of War, too. It gets confusing, doesn't it?) I'm glad it made your list. I looooved that book!


Sandra said...

I'm glad you enjoyed The Good Earth. Did you know it was actually the first in a trilogy? The others are Sons, and A House Divided. I enjoyed them all. I read Oscar Wao and Exploding Mangoes this year too and liked them both. I still intend to read The Given Day, I have read everything he's written including his short story collection. And now I have to read Half Of A Yellow Sun so I'm not missing out on something good. Thank you for ranking these. Happy reading in 2009.

Sarah said...

I'm another who can't praise Half of a yellow sun enough. The ending brought me to tears.

I haven't read any of your other picks, but will look out for them. I've been meaning to try Michael Chabon and Lisa See anyway.

Kristin Dodge said...

You're right, Lezlie. I'm too lazy to change it, but you're right.

Happy reading to all!

Nathan said...

Thanks for the recap. Did you do one in past years? I'll be taking this list to the local library.

Kristin Dodge said...

It's usually the last post in December of each year... I'm too lazy to look. How is you, Nathan?

Nathan said...

I is okay. Not super, but okay.

Hopefully I'll be in Mankato for Diana Joseph's book launch party in March.