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.