Monday, December 29, 2008

Top 10 Reads of 2008

In descending order of how much I loved them. These are my favorite reads of 2008, though not necessarily published this year.
10. Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
Sweet fairy tale with just enough humor, romance, creative detail, and sarcasm for me to fall in love with. 

9. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A remarkable combination of wit, wisdom, innocence and hatred. This novel entertains as it reveals profound truths about humanity. A treasured classic that I loved infinitely more in my adulthood reading than my adolescent reading.

8. Birdwing by Rafe Martin
A thoroughly engrossing and well-paced fantasy. I enjoyed all the coming-of-age angst, magic, betrayal, and triumph. There is a just a hint of romance, a lot of adventure, unexpected twists in the plot, and several quiet, tender moments.

7. Peony In Love by Lisa See
A beautiful, haunting love story set in 17th century China. I loved how all the hurts and injustices of the past were finally washed away by the end of the novel and Peony finally finds redemption after all those long years! Absolutely recommended.

6. Katherine by Anya Seton
Lovely piece of historical fiction with a beautiful, timeless romance as well. This novel is highly emotional, epic in scope, richly detailed with some of my favorite themes in literature: the enduring quality of love, redemption, personal growth.

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Collins gives it to us all: compelling plot, smart writing, strong female character, a great balance between horror and hope, brutality and tenderness. I could not put this book down and nearly had a coronary when I read the words "end of book one". (You're killing me Ms. Collins) I can't wait to see what happens next. A thoroughly entertaining read, with the beginnings of a devastating love triangle, and no end to the suspense. Well done!

4.  Anything written by Shannon Hale
Shannon is better known in our house as the Writer Who Can Do No Wrong. I love anything she has written. If you are just getting started, I would recommend The Goose Girl. It is the first of a delightful, loose series. Or possibly you might enjoy a contemporary romance Austenland, or her Newberry Honor book Princess Academy or her book published last fall Book of a Thousand Days... anything she writes I love.

3. Beautiful Boy by David Sheff
Intensely emotional story of a father's unconditional love for his son. I could not put it down. It was raw, yet tender and achingly familiar. I loved Sheff's use of words, as well as all the many quotes from many resources--Shakespeare to Cobain and the way he weaved them into his story. I grieved for Sheff as I grieve for myself, my drug addict brother, my entire family, and every family whose lives are ripped apart by the insidiousness of addiction. This book was validating, motivating and fascinating. (Reader beware: high use of profanity)

2. These Is My Words by Nancy Turner
The characters lived, laughed, struggled, loved, breathed, and died around me while I read. The detailed historical authenticity and voice of the novel seemed so real I could not believe it wasn't coming from an actual diary. I instantly fell in love with the main character, Sarah, for her courage, child-like innocence, and down-and-dirty-spunkiness. I could not get enough of Captain Jack Elliot! What a great hero–ranking right up there with Rhett and Gilbert as my all time favorites. Their love story was so beautiful and true to life from beginning to end. This book was so funny, so exciting, so tender, and at times so sad I thought I would find a whole in my chest for the aching I felt (as well as the laughing I did). A COMPELLING, BEAUTIFUL read. I will read this one again and again. "A nice girl should never go anywhere without a loaded gun and a big knife."”

1. The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak
Best book I've read about Nazi Germany, and one of the best books I've ever read OF ALL TIME. Heart wrenching, beautiful, creative prose, vivid detail, rich characters. Although it is written about one of the most tragic events in human history, the story itself leaves one feeling hopeful and very satisfied. A MUST READ.


  1. I was getting discouraged as I got through the first (last?) six books and hadn't found one that I've read. But then came books 4, 3 and 2. All very good. And I'm pleased to announce book number 1 is on my bookshelf waiting to be read.

    Just as soon as I finish Jesus the Christ.

    HA! (But I'm serious).

  2. Oh, I forgot to tell you: I got your Christmas card Sunday and laughed. I love it. I wanted to call you and tell you, but didn't. Obviously. :)

  3. i have got a lot of catching up to do in the world of books! i am in the middle of graceling and i really like it, i just haven't had a lot of time to just sit and read. i don't believe that was on your top 10. it would be on mine because (if you take out the hp series) i don't think i've read 10 books!!!
    love reading your blog!!!

  4. What? No The Host? No Breaking Dawn? And, you call yourself a member of the SLTA! Just kidding. ;)

    Thanks for all the wonderful book recommendations! I have a few of them on my To Read list already, but I shall put the others on as well.

  5. It looks like i need to borrow a few books--maybe after I finish the ones I have already borrowed from you.

  6. Jenni- Breaking Dawn is probably number 11 or 12 for me. The Host, down a little bit farther. BD was the book I anticipated the most, and perhaps that's why it isn't in the top 10—it could never live up to the expectations I had.

  7. Rachel, I understand. I just had to give you a hard time. So, I just finished The Hunger Games! Oh my gosh! I think I have a new obsession. I have no idea how I'm going to survive until September for the next book. Seriously, your sentiment "You're killing me Ms. Collins" is so true!!!

  8. So I am reading your blog now and apparently starting at the very beginning (a very good place to start, right?) And I had to comment that I love Shannon Hale so so much. I got to be her assistant at a book event and almost hyperventilated. Also my sister threw Hunger Games across the room when she read end of book one.

    please don't think I am creepy.