Saturday, January 03, 2009

everyone else got to do one

So I'm doing my "what I read in 2008" list, very self-indulgently. I did all the work, I want to brag!!!

But first, my immediate TBR list, as it is stacked against my bed, in no order except how it's sitting at the moment:

The Savage Detectives, Roberto Bolano
Hope against Hope, Nadezhda Mandelstam
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon
The Septembers of Shiraz, Dalia Sofer
"Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" Beverly Daniel Tatum
The Road, Cormac McCarthy
The Book Borrower, Alice Mattison
Jetpack Dreams, Mac Montandon
Forever, Pete Hamill
What Happened to Anna K., Irina Reyn
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl
Inheritance, Lan Samantha Chang

I have some unused gift certificates (to the tune of $28) so I will judiciously consider any suggested additions to the above list for the new year. Especially awesome, readable historical biographies--I've decided I'd like to read some biographies in the future, and frankly don't know where to start, having been a fiction reader up to this point.

Now my 2008 list. I'm blanking out a couple of titles for private reasons (anonymity, etc) but I still want credit for reading them, because I'm competitive (with myself? what's the point? I don't know). Total for 2008: 56, with which we are well pleased.

Since I LOVE to talk about books I've read, if you have questions or comments about books on the list you've read or want to read, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE humor me and write them all.

01/02/08 The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
01/04/08 -----
01/08/08 A Pale View of Hills, Kazuo Ishiguro
01/10/08 -----
01/16/08 Gentlemen of the Road, Michael Chabon
01/27/08 -----
01/30/08 Autobiography of Red, Anne Carson
02/03/08 Peony in Love, Lisa See
02/12/08 The Gathering, Anne Enright
02/16/08 Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
02/22/08 Twilight, Stephanie Meyer
02/23/08 Maus, Art Spiegelman
03/20/08 The Night Watch, Sarah Waters
03/27/08 Look at Me, Jennifer Egan
04/02/08 Empress, Shan Sa
04/09/08 Best Friends, Martha Moody
04/16/08 The Book Thief, Mark Zusak
04/20/08 Him Her Him Again the End of Him, Patricia Marx
05/05/08 Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See
05/09/08 -----
05/30/08 Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, Ayelet Waldman
05/30/08 By Hook or By Crook, David Crystal
06/04/08 I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley
06/15/08 The Bastard of Istanbul, Elif Shafak
07/16/08 Affinity, Sarah Waters
07/24/08 The Lace Reader, Brunonia Barry
07/27/08 Parallel Lives, Phyllis Rose
07/30/08 Crossed, Nicole Galland
08/11/08 The Empress of Weehawken, Irene Dische
08/16/08 Out, Natsu Kirino
08/21/08 The End of the East, Jen Sookfong Lee
09/08/08 The Black Book, Orhan Pamuk
09/13/09 Prep, Curtis Sittenfeld
09/21/08 The Makioka Sisters, Junichiro Tanizaki
09/25/08 Tethered, Amy MacKinnon
09/28/08 The Good Thief, Hannah Tinti
10/02/08 -----
10/06/08 -----
10/12/08 Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri
10/18/08 Prague, Arthur Phillips
10/25/08 The Jewel of Medina, Sherry Jones
10/29/08 Nothing Is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn, Alice Mattison
11/08/08 When the Elephants Dance, Tess Uriza Holthe
11/10/08 Picking Bones from Ash, Marie Mockett
11/13/08 Petropolis, Anya Ulinich
11/19/08 The Girls of Riyadh, Rajaa Alsanea
11/27/08 Mona in the Promised Land, Gish Jen
11/30/09 A Mercy, Toni Morrison
12/01/08 What Was Lost, Catherine O'Flynn
12/10/08 The Passion of Tasha Darsky, Yael Goldstein Love
12/12/08 The Almond, Nedjma
12/14/08 Land of a Hundred Wonders, Lesley Kagan
12/18/08 Edinburgh, Alexander Chee
12/23/08 Wetlands, Charlotte Roche
12/26/08 Away, Amy Bloom
12/29/08 Orange Mint and Honey, Carleen Brice

In 2008, for the first year, I got to read books by blog friends. Yay! There were three Mischief books on my list. There will be many, many more in 2009! A special pleasure in all of those.


Margo said...

I also read Never Let Me Go in 2008. I kept thinking that although I couldn't put it down, I wasn't enjoying it very much and then at the end I was sobbing like a teenager (which I don't do often). Now, many months later, when I think about it, I can still hear the narrator's voice in my head and remember the eerie melancholy of it. Unusual reading experience, but I loved it.

Lisa said...

I got The Savage Detectives for Christmas and can't wait to read it. I've also got The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (I gave a copy of it to my son for Christmas, along with Yiddish Policemen's Union and Blindness) and Special Topics in Calamity Physics in "the stack".

I don't remember whether or not you blogged about The Gathering -- I'll have to check -- because I also have that and it's close to the top of the stack too. Great list.

What do you usually base your reading choices on?

Ann Victor said...

The Book Thief was outstanding. Easy to read and yet dealing with a difficult topic. Zusak's ability to show the humanity of the ordinary Germans living during WWII is a credit to his empathy and his skill. A great story. Loved that narrator, Death!

N.Vasillis said...

How was Love and Other Possible pursuits by Ayelet Waldman?

Diane T said...

If you're looking for historical biography, you might want to start with Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel. It's a lovely book about a very interesting figure, and very readable.

Melody said...

I adored Never Let Me Go and a few of your other picks, and The Good Thief is in my TBR pile right now. So was there a #1 favorite this year?

BuffySquirrel said...

Oh, I envy you having "The Road" ahead of you :). I loved that book. It's not often a writer manages to make me feel such a strong emotional connection to their characters (sad burnt-out old sqrl that I am).

I didn't enjoy Sarah Waters' "Night Watch" as much as I enjoyed other books of hers. The backwards style didn't appeal; I wanted to know what happened next, not what had already happened. But that's probably very sqrl-specific :). "Affinity", on the other hand, is one of my favourite reads from 2008. I found it surprisingly easy to suspend disbelief, and immerse myself in Margaret's hopes and dreams. So sad, though.

Thought "Book Thief" was pretty good, although I found it difficult to identify with the characters. Almost felt as if the book was trying too hard to say, "These are good people really." Yeah, I get it, I get it.

I shall say nothing at all about "Twilight" as I prefer my skin on.

moonrat said...

Margo--I know what you mean. The whole way through, I didn't get it and was vaguely uncomfortable reading. Then at the end...BOOM. You can't shake the voice, especially the end passages. Ishiguro is a master of letting an effect accumulate.

Lisa--I'm about 1/3 of the way into SAVAGE DETECTIVES and so far I think I like it a lot (final opinions always reserved until the end!). It came on a VERY strong recommendation from one of my colleagues. It's a little compulsively readable, as they say.

I did blog about THE GATHERING at thebookbook, but I'll be really interested to hear what you think--my opinions are pretty nuanced, although I couldn't put it down. The friend I gave it to afterwards (an Irish friend, incidentally) felt the same.

moonrat said...

Lisa--(cont)--as for what I base my reading choices on--most often, recommendations from friends (blogging and other) and coworkers.

Another BIG source of book purchases for me is PW/Publishers Lunch. I read about deals as they're made in PubLunch, which is free and to which all readers and writers should subscribe! They publish a weekly deal round-up with some of the high-profile deals (big deal editors, big deal agents, exciting authors there's a lot of buzz about) and if I read about something I like and see it a year or two later in bookstores, I'll pick it up. (CALAMITY PHYSICS is one of those--I wrote it on my "sounds cool" list about three years ago, and FINALLY remembered to buy it!)

As for PW, I know it's not free or accessible to non-industry people, which is really too bad. I hope they'll rethink that and make the book reviews widely available--it would be a lot better for avid readers, because PW is one of very few venues that reviews almost every book they receive for review (at least, from trade publishers). They always mention whether the book is a debut, which helps me target new authors (I like to support new authors, because life is toughest for them).

When I'm browsing... I have to confess. I pick things up by cover. I love covers. Yumm. Whether I buy the book or not will depend on whether there are positive reviews from respected review venues on the cover. How boring of me. But true.

Stuart Neville said...

How was MAUS? I just happened to be looking at it on Amazon today. I'm a fan of the graphic novel form. I've just finished Watchmen recently (I wanted to read it before seeing the movie), and one of my favourite books of all time is Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, which is a deconstruction of the superhero in the same way Watchmen is.

I know Maus is something entirely different, and I've been wanting to read something in graphic form that isn't traditional comic book fare.

I've also got a secret desire to see Ghosts of Belfast/The Twelve adapated in graphic novel form, but that's another story...

Pamela Hammonds said...

I find it interesting that you read Twilight and not the others that followed. Me too. It just didn't suck me in (no pun intended) like it seemed to everyone else.

moonrat said...

BuffySquirrel--You know what made me take the copy of THE ROAD? Besides the fact that it's my friend Angelle's favorite book ever. But I really, really liked how big the typeface was. I opened it and my eyes felt happy. Haha. My sister's reading it at the moment, and I'm looking forward to FINALLY getting to it afterward!

For Sarah Waters, I've only read those two books, although I have a copy of TIPPING THE VELVET. I liked NIGHT WATCH a lot, but AFFINITY less so. I think I got upset with AFFINITY not because it's not masterfully developed (it is) but just because the story upset me, and I could see what was happening to Margaret even though she couldn't. Very upsetting! NIGHT WATCH I loved for the historical detail. I'm really happy to hear that she's writing a new book in 2009 (title unannounced as of yet) that's going to take place in the 1940s. Whoopee!

I wasn't crazy about THE BOOK THIEF, I confess. His language drove me nuts. But I seem to be in a minority about that.

Re: TWILIGHT: My mother always told me when I have nothing nice to say, I should say nothing at all.

moonrat said...

Ann--I see you're one of the BOOK THIEF admirers! Sigh. I am in a minority. I think you raise a good point, though--the book is intended for children, and it makes a horrible topic accessible and not overly difficult for young readers, without making light of it at all.

moonrat said...

Melody--my #1 pick... Hmm. AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF RED was so unlike anything else I'd ever read, it realy made an impression. I've recommended it to/bought it for so many people since then.

UNACCUSTOMED EARTH and SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN really moved me. I think there was just a lot of personal resonance, but they're also just beautiful books.

moonrat said...

N. Vasillis--I was really not crazy about it, I'm afraid. I think it had a lot of potential but wasn't edited very well. At the same time, even thinking it was sloppy and sometimes rolling my eyes, I couldn't put it down.

moonrat said...

Diane T--thanks for the rec! I remember hearing about that book. Thanks for reminding me!

I also saw an Alison Weir bio of Eleanor of Aquitaine. I almost bought it, except the print was so small. I figured I'd wait for a recommendation.

moonrat said...

Stuart--Maus is just awesome. What more to say? Also, you have to remember that he did this BEFORE there was such thing as a graphic novel. He's a total innovator.

Maybe I'd know if TWELVE/GHOST OF BELFAST would make a good graphic novel, if only I'd read it. Le Sigh. (cough, cough)

moonrat said...

Pamela--I'm "dry" of adjectives that could even describe my TWILIGHT reading experience. But hey, at least I know what all the hubbub is about. Although the fact that there is hubbub makes me despair of humanity a little bit.

lucyp said...

Buffysql --- I felt exactly that way about Night Watch too, though I loved her other books. I was so disappointed when I got to the end of the first chapter and found we were going to go backwards, not forwards.
In fact, an editor's blog may be a good place to put down a theory I had about the book --- I wondered if she wrote the book in order and then her editor, horrified realized there was no story there, and suggested she make it go backwards instead.

moonrat said...

lucyp--interesting theory. Hmm. I really liked the composition a lot. I found the emerging past really driving me to turn pages. I wonder if anyone else did? I'll have to look up reviews.

JES said...

I've said before that your reading list drops the jaw so I won't harp on that again.

But I will say, this time, you've got awfully good taste in WHAT you read.

(You ever think of going into editing???)

If you've not read it to this point, you might like The Collector Collector, by Tibor Fischer. And, observing that your reading looks almost exclusively "thought-y" or of (potential) professional interest, I'd wonder if you might be willing to have a go at something lighter. Terry Pratchett, say, or Jasper Fforde. You'd blow through one of them in a couple hours.

moonrat said...

JES--I've read Jasper Fforde and wasn't crazy about him--only THE EYRE AFFAIR, to be fair, but.

I used to read a LOT of fantasy/sci fi (Pratchett included) but I found my tastes changed--when I try to reread old favorites, I get bored. Which is strange.

I think that my priorities have changed, and I'm less interested in good story now than I am in interesting language. I THINK that's it. I'm also very, very bad at breezing through anything--I read really slowly and laboriously and stare at each word, regardless of whether I'm reading Proust or a romance novel. Seriously... I don't have different modes of reading, no matter how hard I try. So I've found I tend to get bored with books that were designed to be quick reads (backwards, right? Sigh).

moonrat said...

Also, JES, thanks for the rec--I've never even heard of it! How exciting!

sandralambert said...

Yes, me, I did. I adored the structure of Nightwatch. I still think about it, how it worked, why it worked.

And, Moonrat, when you said you wanted to read historical biographies, I thought "Naked in the Promised Land" by Lillian Faderman. It's a memoir, but still.

Pamela Hammonds said...

My mother also gave me the same mantra, which I wisely try to heed. And when I don't, eyes roll and words like "sour grapes" get tossed around.

If you haven't read these, they're some of my favs. Since they're not new, chances are you've already read them.

The Devil in the White City
They Cage the Animals at Night (memoir)
Year of Wonders

Jaye Wells said...

If you're looking for historical-based fiction, you might try HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET by Jamie Ford. It's his debut and comes out later this month. I haven't read it yet, but I've been a fan of Jamie's for a few years now (we're blog pals).

Lisa said...

One very NON-historical biography I liked this year was Alexandra Fuller's The Legend of Colton H. Bryant. Just to be contrary...

Stuart Neville said...

So, I ordered Maus. I've wanted to read it for a long time. I'll let you know how I get on with it.

You mentioned McCarthy's The Road - I read it last year and absolutely loved it. It went right into my top 10 of all time. I also read No Country for Old Men shortly after, which is also fantastic. I'm reading Blood Meridian at the moment, but must admit I'm struggling a little with it.

BTW, I might be able to do something about that cough of yours in March...


Carolyn said...

In your TBR, I have read Oscar Wao and thought it was a wonderful book. I tried to read McCarthy's The Road but that's a book that needs to wait until my life is less stressful, I think.

As for your 2008 reading list, I thought Kavalier and Clay (which I read shortly after it came out) was among the best books I'd ever read. I loved it.

I thought Twilight was massively fun. I read the Makioka Sisters years ago, but it's one heck of a book. I went on to read as much of Tanizaki as I could find.

Mercy and Edinburgh are books I hope to add to my TBR shortly. I'm afraid most of the others didn't even ring a bell with me.

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow, I read about 100 books myself in 08 but not a single one of those. Good to know there are still books out there for me. lol.

Anita said...

Like Charles, I'm surprised. I've only read one of the books on Moonrat's list...and I read that one, because she recommended it!

I read A TON of books in 08. It might have just been my life at the moment, but I loved AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES.

L.C.McCabe said...

I have two book recommendations for you in the realm of "awesome, readable historical biographies." One is a nonfiction book on Charlemagne titled, Becoming Charlemagne: Europe, Baghdad, and the Empires of A.D. 800 by Jeff Sypeck.

It deals with the four different political empires at the time and how their power intertwined. These were the Frankish Empire, the Papacy, the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic Empire.

He does a great job making history come alive and seem like a Shakespearean plot.

The other book The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner. It is a novel about Juana of Castile, the last queen of Spanish blood in Spain. She was the daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand and sister to Catherine of Aragon (King Henry VIII's first wife.)

Juana is notorious in Spain, but her tragic story is not well known outside of Europe. It is a wonderful novel and you will learn about a woman who is said to have gone "mad for love." Juana la Loca.

Happy Reading!

BuffySquirrel said...

I started reading "The Eyre Affair", and I have the hole in the wall to prove it! POV issues, much? :D

"Night Watch" is a difficult book for me. I so wanted to like it! I still want to know what happened for everyone next--that's a good thing, maybe? meh

I read "The Devil in the White City" for my bookclub. I did not like it much. Srsly, why not just write about the Chicago Fair and the architects and leave out the murders, which seemed to be the part the author found least interesting. For some reason, the outcome was that the bookclub didn't want to read any more n/f, thank you anyway, even though some of them liked the book much more than I did. Which is a shame.

I don't suppose "Billy Ruffian" counts as historical biography--it's about a ship!--but I picked up the same author (David Cordingly)'s book about Thomas Cochrane, and I shall report back sometime :).

Kristan said...

I'm curious what you thought about Peony in Love (which I read) and Snow Flower (which I didn't read).

moonrat said...

Pamela--Of those three, I've only read DEVIL, and I really liked it. Other two suggestions duly noted!

Anonymous said...

Moonrat, you've inspired me. I'm going to keep a log of books I read in 2009. So far, I've read "Chalice" by Robing McKinley. I look forward to a great year of reading.

WandaV in AL

moonrat said...

Jaye--HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET is already in my Amazon cart, believe it or not (...). WWII in Asia? Yeah, I jump on that boat whenever I see it go by.

Trixie said...

So many good books, Moon Rat!
I haven't finished Kavalier and Clay - I know about your thing with Michael Chabon, but I just wasn't drawn through it like I have been with other books.
I really liked Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and I'm meaning to read Peony in Love too.
I love to see your lists because there are so many books here that sound great.
And I have to thank you as my inspiration for many of the books I bought my family this Christmas as well. I am excited to see if they enjoy them as much as I hope to when I borrow them back.

moonrat said...

Lisa--have you read DONT LET'S GO TO THE DOGS TONIGHT?

moonrat said...

Charles--you and I just have complementary tastes, clearly!

moonrat said...

Anita--I've heard SO many amazing things about his new book, PAPER TOWNS. Now they're BOTH on my list.

Oh man. I shouldn't have put this post up. It's cost me at least $100 already.

moonrat said...

LC McCabe--BECOMING CHARLEMAGNE looks awesome and perfect for me. That whole era is a huge whole in my grasp of history.

And it looks like LAST QUEEN got a great PW review. Hmmmm.

moonrat said...

Sandra--glad you're with me! Yay! Validation always helps my self-esteem.

NAKED IN THE PROMISED LAND looks really interesting. University of Wisconsin Press?! I don't think I have anything they published on my shelf. Which might strike you as a strange reason to buy a book... Or maybe you understand how my mind works...

moonrat said...

Stuart--GOOD. Humph. (cough, cough)

moonrat said...

Carolyn--the reason I even have a copy of THE ROAD right now is because a friend who has struggled with depression bought it, tried to read it, and found it was too much for her.

So many other people love it... It makes me wonder about the content. Hmmm.

moonrat said...

Carolyn (cont) (sorry, I pressed send too soon!)--THE MAKIOKA SISTERS was indeed one heck of a book. Wow. So much just barely-there humor--you felt so rewarded every time you got a joke. He's one heck of a writer--really inspirational. I found his eye for tiny day-to-day detail was really helpful to me as a writer. I should try other books by him.

moonrat said...

Kristan--I loved PEONY IN LOVE, although I didn't realize it until I was done and read Lisa See's afterword. It is a slow and difficult read, I'll admit, and my copy came from a friend who didn't enjoy it or want to keep it, but I thought the composition was really interesting.

It was what inspired me to read SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN, which I had seen many times but which I had figured what a stupid, frivolous genre book because of the title and cover (oops). As it turns out, SNOW FLOWER is just one of the best books I've ever read. It's a different spin than you're expecting, and I'd recommend it especially to any woman who's ever had a best friend. Don't let PEONY be the reason you don't try SNOW FLOWER.

moonrat said...

Wanda--I love logs! I've kept one since I was 15. It's got more than 500 books in it now. I refer to it a LOT, especially when I'm gift shopping.

Kristan said...

Okay, I think that's what I was expecting to hear. I also did not enjoy Peony -- ALTHOUGH I *appreciated* it a lot more after I met Lisa See, who is absolutely LOVELY, and heard in her own words the work and intentions that went into Peony.

But pretty much everyone I know loved Snow Flower, so I was thinking about giving it a chance anyway...

Your comments second that notion! Thanks!

moonrat said...

Trixie--I'm so glad! You helped save the world!!

moonrat said...

Kristan--you got to meet Lisa See?!??!!? ooooooooo. I'd LOVE to meet her.

Kristan said...

Yes, she came to read here in Cincy. She was gracious, funny, and so petite! She personally responds to email from her Web site, so if you want to talk to her that way, you could.

Seriously, I loved meeting her, and was so upset with myself that I didn't enjoy Peony, so I'd love to read Snow Flower (or any of her Asian mystery series, which are supposedly good as well).

Carleen Brice said...

I'm honored to be in such great company!

Crimogenic said...

Moonrat, I so envy you. You averaged over a book a week in 2008. You are a machine :)

JES said...

I knew I read about this recently, but couldn't remember who it was that had been keeping a complete journal of everything he'd read for 40 years. It's Art Garfunkel. 1,023 books listed at the site. Yowza!*


*Dunno if that's a Yiddish exclamation. :)

moonrat said...

My friend Rose clipped an article from The Week re: Artie G a year or so ago and sent it to me. Yay for logging books! It makes lots of sense.

I got the idea when I was 15 from NPR. Terri Gross was talking about someone, I'm not sure who--a turn-of-the-century woman who read on average three books a day and logged all the titles, authors, and her feelings about them. alas, i only read about 1/21 as fast as she did. meep.

Sarah Weinman, of, posted her 2008 total today. It was like 481 or something. I want to cry. I left a comment demanding she give us an accounting of those titles, so I can see what I should be reading.

Andromeda Romano-Lax said...

Ack, you have too many readers now, Moonrat. I can't get my comment in before 50 others have commented. But seriously, thanks for this list -- I'm adding several of your already-reads and TBRs to my own growing 5-year list. My turn to read The Road (finally), Savage Detectives, many others. I was surprised to read you hadn't read Mysteries of Pittsburgh yet (or maybe you're just re-reading it). As one Chabon fan to another -- it's very odd to read it after his later books, which are more ambitious. But I shall say no more!

Now if I could stop making book lists (oh, how I love my lists) and find some time to start reading the books themselves!

BuffySquirrel said...

Last year, I started using GoodReads ( to keep track of which books I'd read for the 100 books challenge. Never before have I had any idea what books I'd read or how many!

Debbi said...

I highly, highly recommend Special Topics in Calamity Physics. In fact, you should read that one next.

Julianne Douglas said...

Move FOREVER to the top of your pile! It's one of my favorite books ever. I'll through in another recommendation for THE LAST QUEEN, too.

How do you ever fit in so much "extra-curricular" reading on top of your work? Do you ever get tired of reading?

James Klousia said...

Keep reading Blood Meridian - I struggled with it as well, but found that it was well worth it once I got through.

freddie said...

You should try The Night Inspector by Frederick Busch. I think it'd be a good book for your reading style. It's easy to languish over the prose.

I've also got a secret desire to see Ghosts of Belfast/The Twelve adapated in graphic novel form, but that's another story...

I've read some of the excerpt of The Ghosts of Belfast and would TOTALLY love to see it in graphic novel form. I'd love to be a part of making it, even though I've never drawn for a graphic novel. Always wanted to, though.

moonrat said...

Debbie--I think SPECIAL TOPICS is next!!

moonrat said...

Julianne--a good friend who loves to read made me buy the copy of Forever; she said basically what you did.

I read on the train, an hour to work and an hour back. It adds up!

moonrat said...

Andromeda--I'm finding THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES to be a fast but kind of disengaged read. It's interesting; I'm curious about what the end result will be for me.

And point taken about Chabon--I've so far read everything he's written in reverse chronological order.

moonrat said...

freddie--NIGHT INSPECTOR looks really interesting. someone else has recommended this, too, i'm sure. hmmm.

Dara said...

I really enjoyed Lisa See's PEONY IN LOVE. It's definitely a different type of story--but done very well. I think I liked SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN slightly better, but I'm a fan of See's work.

Lo said...

LOVED Pete Hamill's Forever. Thanks for reminding me--I just might read it again!

Andromeda Romano-Lax said...

I'm echoing Julianne's mention of THE LAST QUEEN, a historical novel about a Spanish queen by C.W. Gortner, an author who was born in Spain and now lives in the US. It's received lots of good reader reviews.

Another idea to share with other list-lovers: I'm putting together a list of 100 titles I plan to read over the next 5 years, which for me is a more realistic scheme than planning for just one year. I'm listing 100, with the idea that my goal is really to read 75. (I drop about 1 book in 4 or 5 if they don't hold my interest.) Why plan for a definite 15 a year, rather than more? Because I know I'll want to supplement with all the great new titles coming out each year, as well as books assigned by my book club. My list books are mainly classics (D.H. Lawrence, Ralph Ellison, Faulkner, Flaubert, others) or recent award winners (like Junot Diaz or Cormac McCarthy) that I feel I really MUST read. Before I started this master list, I felt like there was an inexhaustible list of "shoulds" I needed and wanted to read; once I started listing, it actually seemed more manageable. One book I've left off my master list -- Moby Dick. If I never read this classic, will I be sorry?

Anonymous said...

Stuart: I'm a big McCarthy fan and finally got around to reading Blood Merdian which is generally regarded as his masterpiece. I'm afraid it just didn't resonate with me like his other books have. I think he was just developing his skill with that one but his later books, i.e. the Border trilogies, in particular, are much better books. Frankly, I was disappointed with Blood. Perhaps I just didn't 'get it'. He's still a writing god in my eyes.

angelle said...

what? u havent read the road yet?? u know how i feel about that book right? geez.

Linda said...

Impressive. I'm using much of your 2008 list to undergird my 2009. I kept track of my 2008 books read starting in June, so I only posted 30. I loved THE ROAD (well, as much as one can love something so dark) and PREP ;^).
Peace, Linda

word verification: gabby. I am that.

Linda said...

Oh, and tell me what you think of SPECIAL TOPICS. This was one I could not get past the first 20 pages, though I wanted to, really, I did. I loved the premise, but...

Alyssa said...

I also read The Book Thief last year, but only just barely, because the language (and the narration) had me gnashing my teeth. So I'm in the minority with you, I guess. I really wanted to love it but it just didn't work for me at all.

That also happened to me with Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys. I'm not sure why but I just didn't want to read any more about half way through. I notice you read two of his this year--have you read Wonder Boys? Are his other books similar? Should I give him another chance?

James Klousia said...

When you do end up reading The Road, I highly recommend that you also listen to "Rooks" by Shearwater. It's a haunting song that never fails to bring images from that book to mind.

moonrat said...

Alyssa--interesting. Glad to hear I'm not a minority of one--I was feeling like maybe I was just wrong!

Re: Chabon: He is my imaginary boyfriend because I LOVED YIDDISH POLICEMEN and KAVALIER AND CLAY. I have to admit, I've also read FINAL SOLUTION and GENTLEMEN OF THE ROAD and found both of them frustrating and disappointing. I also read most of MAPS & LEGENDS before deciding I didn't care anymore (which is something I almost never, ever do--since if I stop reading, I don't get to list it!).

So what will I think of WONDER BOYS and MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH? Hmmmm. I can only imagine. But I sure will post about them!

And Michael still has my heart for those two novels alone. He's just so sexy with his words.

Alyssa said...

Thanks, Moonrat. I'll have to give your imaginary boyfriend another chance!

The Scribbler said...

My favourite of 2008 was "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" by first time novelist David Wroblewski. I went to his very first book reading (it was in Toronto) and Augusten Burroughs was there touting his own new book but also putting a plug in for "Edgar". After all the readings, literally hundreds lined up for Augusten's signature and there was David sitting all by himself - and I thought, boy this must be the unglamorous side of the business. I felt horrible for him so I picked up a copy of the book and had him sign it. He wrote "Thanks so much for attending Edgar's FIRST reading, David." I took the book home and threw it on a pile of other books I had been meaning to get to. I thought nothing of it until I was watching Oprah one day (which I never do) and - wow - guess who's book she chooses for her book club? That pushed "Edgar" to the front of my list - and it turned out to be my favourite read of 2008!

For 2009, with all these recommendations, I going to have to pick up a copy of "The Book Thief"!

Maree A. said...

Have you considered The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson? His first travel book opened with the line: "I came from Des Moines. Somebody had to."

Thunderbolt Kid is a memoir about growing up in 1950s America, "...a happy time, where almost everything was good for you, including DDT, cigarettes and nuclear fallout."

Hubby and I laughed ourselves silly. Here's the blurb, just in case it might interest you:
"Growing up was easy. It required no thought or effort on my part. It was going to happen anyway. So what follows isn't terribly eventful, I'm afraid. And yet it was by a very large margin the most fearful, thrilling, interesting, instructive, eye-popping, lustful, eager, troubled, untroubled, confused, serene and unnerving time of my life. Coincidentally, it was all those things for America, too."

If that's not your cup of coffee, then I'd recommend The Age Of The Warrior, Selected Writings by Robert Fisk (Middle East correspondent for the Independent) which will definitely make you sit up and think, even if you don't agree with his views!

Happy reading,

Kristan said...

Fyi, speaking of Lisa See, her next book is coming out in May and Random House is giving away advance copies:

(See the sidebar for the email address to enter.)

Also, that links to an excerpt from the book, Shanghai Girls. Dunno if you wanted to share with your readers or just wanted to know yourself! :)