Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Because it's never too late for excessive book lists. Best of 2008.

Huh. So we're getting on to that time of year when I traditionally post my midterm review of books. (Traditional in that I've done it almost twice now.) I figured I better finish reviewing my favorites of 2008 first. (Not to be confused with the mere Compleat and Chronological Record of Books.) Imagine my surprise to discover that... I already wrote an elaborate review post? In February?? But never posted it???

Don't question it, Rebecca.


My favorite book of 2008? Still

"...you can say it's about fathers and sons and faith, but ultimately it's a meditation on a life well lived. And reading about John Ames' life is like looking at some marble sculpture or other fine work of art that seems to have sprung to life fully formed, totally independent of any writer's craft."
Only enhanced by the fact that MR came out with a sequel and Inder and I got to hear her speak.

All the 5 star reads. In chronological order. Links to my overwritten reviews with selected teasers.
Bound For Glory by Woody Guthrie "There's not much music in here until the end, but his story itself reads as this jaw-dropping rambling epic earthy American folk ballad."
Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce "a sort of modern parable that's hilarious and quirky and honest and morally challenging."
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan "He may have written Omnivore's Dilemma with no agenda in mind, but in its aftermath he's gamely stepped up as the food prophet everyone wants him to be."
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon "I mean, comic books don't really do it for me, despite my best efforts, so I thought this homage might be wasted on me. But Chabon somehow captured that larger-than-life essence and channeled it into a plain old novel."
The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis "one of my favorite young adult books, but I hate the title. It screams A Very Special History Lesson. When in fact there's surprisingly little mention of the civil rights movement... it's just a funny and moving take on one loving family and how they deal with raising their boys..."
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss "It leaves me with a yearning to put words down on paper, to have the kind of love affair Krauss' characters have with their books-within-the-book."
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth "not because it was imperfect but because it's unlike anything else I've ever read, and it didn't hurt that it pushed all KINDS of buttons for me... alternate history, american identity politics, original explorations of holocaust material."
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick "Nail bitingly riveting deeply philosophical post-apocalyptic noir? More, please."
Roots by Alex Haley "Cultural memory is huge and mysterious and powerful."

Assorted Praise/Condemnation
Best audiobook: Millions "I've said it before and I'll say it again. Audiobooks with British accents. Accept no substitutes. And ooh - an audiobook within an audiobook! I've never come across that before."
Guiltiest Pleasure: Tie between Choose Your Own Adventure, The Boy I Loved Before, and Vulcan Academy Murders
Most unsettling but uncompromisingly stunning prose: Lolita
Best unpublished manuscript emailed to me by author: Music of the Spheres, the book that was supposed to be Probe.
Most irritating slang: tie between Define Normal ("cronk") and Bud, Not Buddy ("whoop zoop sloop")

2009 resolutions

•More! More! More!
•Stop getting taken in by every Tom, Dick, and Harry fantasy/ya/chick-lit with a hint of scifi and just read some classic scifi already.
•Read at least one book in Spanish.


  1. ooh can i borrow the woodie guthrie book and the adventures book?

  2. They're yours! That is, if the guthrie book hasn't fallen apart yet...