What books did you read that were highlights for 2008?
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So far my favorite reads are, in no particular order:
The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Independent People by Halldor Laxness
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
The Hamish Macbeth Mystery Series by M.C. Beaton
I highly recommend The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and The Book Thief. Both are among my all time favorites (especially The Book Thief).
The Handmaid's Tale
The Poisonwood Bible
The Left Hand of Darkness
Of these books the only one I had read previously was of course, The Hobbit which is one of my favorite books I like to go back and reread again and again. The others on the list I had never read before but will make a point from now on to go back and reread whenever possible.
However, I think I should also mention The Yellow Wallpaper;A Room Of One's Own; The Anglophile and Memoirs of a Medieval Woman The Life and Times of Margery Kempe
1. The Sisters Grimm (HIGHLY recommended)
2. The Twilight Saga (so far, so GREAT)
3. The Mysterious Benedict Society (only 2 books:( )
4. Molly Moon Series
I also read some short stories that were AMAZING.
1. Rappaccini's Daughter- Nathaniel Hawthorne
2. The Cask of Amantillado- E.A. Poe
3. The Tell Tale Heart- E.A. Poe
4. The Pit and the Pendulum- E.A. Poe
5. The Mask of the Red Death- E.A. Poe
6. The Lottery- Shirley Jackson
Taking Lottie home by Terry Kay
Empire Falls by Richard Russo
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Darkly Dreaming Dexter by David Lindsay
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
The Doctor's Wife by Elizabeth Brundage
Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons
and last but not least, the first five Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child
I'll go grab it off the shelves now.
I think the most important book I read this year was: Retained by the People: The "Silent" Ninth Amendment and the Constitutional Rights Americans Don't Know They Have by Dan Farber. My political awareness has taken a major upturn in the past couple of years, and this book was a real eye-opener.
I really liked The Thirteenth Tale: a Novel by Diane Setterfield. Once I started it, I had to read until I was finished, which is always disturbing because like other humans, I must eat, sleep and work, but sometimes a book will dig into these other life sustaining activities.
I discovered George Saunders this year with his collection of super smart, funny and insightful essays, The Braindead Megaphone. So, I read The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil which I didn't like as much. Along these lines, I read Bear v. Shark by Chris Bachelder which is funny and very weird, in a Kurt Vonnegut/Tom Robbins/Neil Postman sort of way. Speaking of Postman, I re-read Amusing Ourselves to Death this year, and got even more out of it, so I've been thumbing through his Conscientious Objections and The End of Education, which is stirring me up. I'm very interested in technology in the classroom, and just purchased Raw Materials for the Mind, Convergence Culture, and Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, which describes the professional reading I am doing this year.
Right now, I'm reading Talk, Talk by T.C. Boyle, which happens to be about identity theft -- another dark side of the technology I love -- and it is scaring the shit out of me.
I just read through some of the other reviews, and think I want to read Retained by the People...
My favorite fiction book was much harder to pick, so depending on my mood in trying to pick one, I'd choose The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Stealing Athena by Karen Essex, The Quiet American by Graham Greene, or Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.
The Road was stark and well-written. The father and son dynamic was brilliant and I felt hopeful at the end.
Stealing Athena was a dual-time-frame book chronicling the lives of Aspasia, consort to Pericles and Lady Elgin, wife of Lord Elgin of the Elgin Marbles fame. It was interesting and informative.
The Quiet American tells the story of a British intelligence officer in Vietnam and his relationship with an American whose actions and motives are naive. Tightly drawn, the tension is almost unbearable at points.
Killer Angels is about the Battle of Gettysburg in the US Civil War. It follows different people - The Spy, Robert E Lee, Longstreet, and others - as they wage war amid confusion, poor communications, horrific battles, and terrible suffering. It is fiction but based on fact and I loved the maps and epilogue telling what became of many of the main characters.
Ditto this. And I wept and wept over The Year of Magical Thinking.
I haven't read Somebody Else's Daughter, but you're not the first to recommend it. It's on my "must read" list, however that seems to get longer and longer no matter how fast I read!
I'm currently reading The Piano Teacher which took a while to get into and am now riveted. In fact, I'm on my way to bed to read it right now.
The Titanic Murders by Max Allen Collins
Mr. Darcy's Daughters by Elizabeth Aston this was the best!
Absolute Certainty by Rose Connors
Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs (cried my eyes out)
The Sorceress of Belmair (I love Bertrice Small!)
I'm just starting my ER book Grandma Gets Laid - I laugh everytime I think of the title. Can't wait.
Maybe you could fit this one into the Historical Fiction or Just Because Categories you have.
A private library of ancient books and scrolls is donated to Princeton University. One of these scrolls contain the true story of creation and the war between good and evil. All copies of these scrolls and their translations have been destroyed though out the years. But by whom and why? (A vampire!)
This was not your normal vampire story or gothic tale. These vampires feel pain and can be wounded, but are not effected by holywater, garlic or crosses, and they dont't burst into flames in the sunlight.
The pace and the way the story unfold is more like a fine mystery novel than a modern gothic horror.
** Escape From The Deep by Alex Kershaw
This is the story of the USS Tang who during her five war patrols sank more enemy ships and rescued more airmen than any other allied ship at that time.
During her final 2 night battle (on her 5th patrol) with two convoys, she sank 5 more ships before she was struck and sunk by one of her own defective torpedos.
Of the crew of ninety only 9 survived. 4 that were blow off the bridge, and 5 who made the not only historic, but heroic accent from a depth of 180 ft.
The story of the battle and the escape read like a Hollywood movie script. But all true. The second part of the book deals with their capture and torture in the Japanese interrogation camp know as the "torture Farm"
The last few chapters deal with their return and not always a happy ending.
Alex Kershaw has wrote an excellent and readable history of a little known and regretfully almost forgotten part of the war in the Pacific.
** The Sundowners by jon cleary
On the back fly leaf of this book the author said that he was tired of the griping in so many recent books and he wanted to write;
"a novel in which the people weren't troubled by neuroses and didn't blame the world for their own shortcomings."
And in this Jon Cleary succeeded very well. This is a feel good book from beginning to end. when you finish the book you'll sigh and say "wish I was there"
** Cool Hand Luke by Dunn Pearce
A good read, no big surprizes if you have seen the movie. Pearce has a nice easy writing style, his prose boarders on poetry in some places.
He has a good handle on dialact and idiom of the south.
I'm surprised that he is not better know, I plan on looking for some of hi other books.
** Mutiny: The True Events That Inspired The Hunt For Red October
by Boris Gindin
A great book! Not so much for excitement or action, but for the quick history of the Soviet Navy, and the incites to the mind set of the average Soviet Sailor during the Cold War. And the realization that a Sailor is a Sailor no matter what colour his uniform or Flag might be. (They have their equivalents to a bucket of steam, sea bats and left handed monkey wrenches)
The Algebraist, Iain M. Banks
Animal Farm, George Orwell
How Fiction Works, James Wood
Mary Stuart, Friedrich Schiller
No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy
Reading like a Writer, Francine Prose
Tiger at the Gates, Jean Giradoux
Six Degrees, Mark Lynas
that's more than five but there are no others.
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
The God Delusion
The World is Flat - Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
Angels and Demons
The The Sunday Philosophy Club series, (Isabel Dalhousie Mysteries)
by Alexander McCall Smith
I also enjoyed Not One Drop by Rikki Ott
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
Well That Went Well by Terrell Harris Dougan
and more... I know, bit I am not going to remember them all
The Book Thief
The Omnivore's Dilemma
Everything is Illuminated
The Best of the Bellevue Literary Review
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky
Death of a Murderer
The Pillars of the Earth
The Art of Murder
As If I Am Not There
World Without End
With the mature reflection of 6 and a bit months into the year I can now cut that list down to a rather shorter A Thousand Splendid Sons, Twenty Thousand Streets, Mister Pip, As If I Am Not There, Tiny Deaths, Loving Frank and Shantaram. And my 'winners' remain Tiny Deaths and Shantaram.
1. THE SHIPPING NEWS : A NOVEL, by E. Annie Proulx.
"'What do you think,' she said. Her voice was rapid. 'You want to marry me, don't you? Don't you think you want to marry me?' Waited for the wisecrack. As she spoke she changed in some provocative way, seemed suddenly drenched in eroticism as a diver rising out of a pool gleams like chrome with a sheet of unbroken water for a fractional second."
2. SHE GOT UP OFF THE COUCH: AND OTHER HEROIC ACTS FROM MOORELAND, INDIANA, by Haven Kimmel.
"He sang like an angel, he was faithful to God and he waited honorably for the wife he believed God chose for him. He made two daughters who shone like mirrors in the direct sun; he blazed his path with a scythe and his broad shoulders, and he was who he chose to be, which is the hardest and bravest thing a man can do. He looked at us, his parents, his sisters, his whole crooked family, and he flexed his jaw muscles, packed up his truck, and drove away."
3. THE MASTER PLANETS, by Donald Gallinger.
"Time collapsed into a delicate dark pencil brushed against our eyebrows, the emergent rumble of crowds gathering above our heads. We slid into our costumes. Pirate, outlaw, futuristic rebels. Red, purple, gold. Chains hanging from our belts, tight black trousers. We were moved upstairs, closer to the stage. Finally, we heard the cannon's roar: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome... Tanzar recording artists... THE MASTER PLANETS!" The world shot forward. We stepped into the spotlight."