Top Ten Books of 2008, and a contest!

This was a tough one! I read so many great books this year, and I chose the top ten not on any official scale of literary quality but just on what lingered with me the longest — which books, when I scrolled back through the year’s reading list, evoked a reaction of “Yes! That one was great!” or “Wow, that really made me think!” I was left with a handful of novels whose characters still haunt me, a couple of memoirs — one about failure, one about addiction in the family, one about trying to follow the Bible when you don’t believe in it — and a few other books on topics I care passionately about.

The top five spots on the list were easy — no question about those.  The bottom five were much more hotly contested because there were probably another three or four novels that could have gone into those spots, and I really had to wrestle with which ones to choose.  It’s always a bit of a judgement call.

I’m having a little trouble adding up and making the numbers come out evenly, but let’s say this year I read and reviewed about 60 novels and 20 non-fiction books (although a few of those were “old favourites,” which makes them ineligible for the Top Ten list as that has to be books I read for the first time this year). I read 38 books by men and 42 books by women — much closer than usual, since I generally read considerably more by women. I must be discovering more good male authors.

Some other interesting observations: I read three times as many novels as non-fiction books, but the final list is half-and-half fiction and nonfiction.  I think I read so many novels that a lot of them are bound to be “just so-so,” whereas I don’t usually pick up a nonfiction book unless I’ve heard good things about it or have some reason to suspect I’ll like it.

Without further ado, my top ten picks are:

1. Home, by Marilynne Robinson
2.
Me, Myself and Bob, by Phil Vischer
3.
Jesus for President, by Shaine Claiborne and Chris Haw
4.
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
5.
The Year of Living Biblically, by A.J. Jacobs
6.
Beautiful Boy, by David Sheff
7.
Atonement, by Ian MacEwan
8.
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, by Joshilyn Jackson
9.
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, by Gabor Mate
10.
Skin Room, by Sara Tilley

Now, what you really want to know is: how can I win one of these books? Click here to go to the contest rules on my main blog, Hypergraffiti.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Top Ten Books of 2008, and a contest!

  1. How is it possible that I’ve only read ONE of your top ten??? (which I didn’t like, actually). I’ve got to get reading! Though, considering my Christmas present, is not likely. 🙂

  2. Which one did you read and not like?

    Anyway, if you play my contest and win, you can pick another from the list and maybe you’ll get a bit more reading done … if time allows!!!

  3. Atonement. I had heard that I should see the movie, which I would love, and then read the book, which I would love even more, but to do so in that order or else I would love the book and hate the movie. I loved the movie. But…can you believe it?…got SO bored with the book. I think I would have liked it better if I hadn’t seen the movie, actually.

    Now I’m wanting to do a top ten book list of 2008. Hmmm…

  4. I think I might actually have been one of the people who gave you that advice, so …sorry. I know how books just strike different people different ways.

  5. I would have loved to read a few lines about why you placed these boooks in the top ten category.

    Dr. Johnson C. Philip
    India

  6. I had considered giving a little rationale for each one, but you’ll notice the title of each one links to the review of it that I wrote earlier in the year, and I decided I had already said enough about each book in the reviews. As I said at the beginning of the entry, I did read many books I really enjoyed this year, but these were each chosen because for some reason — a character, a scene, an idea — they lingered with me and I still remembered them at the end of the year.

  7. I love reading your book reviews. It almost feels as if I was reading a lot, too…. 😉

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