Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Top Ten Books

As the New York Times book review people prepare to post their top ten books in next week's Book Review (at least, I'm assuming that the list will be out next Sunday), I've been thinking of my top ten. Actually, I haven't read that many non-academic books--who has the time?--but I have a few more this year than in years past. So, here's my list. I'm probably forgetting something, and I reserve the right to revise. Also, keep in mind, unlike in the NYT* list, some of my books were published before 2008:


All the Way Home, David Giffels (2008)
The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History, Linda Colley (2007)
Little Heathens, Mildred Armstrong Kalish (2007)
The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein, Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler (2007)
A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains, Isabella Bird (1873)


The City of Thieves, David Benioff (2008)
The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon (2005)
Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates (1961)--did I read this in 2007 or 2008?

Okay, so that's only eight. I'm leaving the fiction slots open for another week or two since I've got a couple of books on deck that might be worthy of the slots, and I can't think of another I've read that is slot worthy (and I did read Edgar Sawtelle, but, for me, it's just not top tier). Then again, Robert Bolano's Night in Chile is certainly high quality and definitely worthy of my humble little list. But did I love it? Not sure. Perhaps I'll add it to the list. As you can see, I am a fence-sitter by nature.

And I have to say, I'm a bit more fond of my non-fiction list--as a whole--than my fiction list, but I really liked the Benioff, and I'm reading the Zafon right now and loving it. Revolutionary Road is wonderfully written, but I'm finding I like books that have good writing, drama, suspense, and wit--all of which can be found in the Benioff and in the Zafon. I guess I haven't read that much fiction this year . . .

I'm interested in your favorites, too. What are your ten favorite reads this year? And for those of you who also loved Benioff and Zafon, do you have any recommendations for me? Maybe I can get some reading done before the end of the year and complete my list.

*Are there others besides me who, when they type NYT, suddenly start singing Michael Jackson's PYT in their heads?


Jen said...

I've got The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz on my list to read... I've heard wonderful things about it. Also did you ever read A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell? It's from 2005 so doesn't really qualify but I completely loved it as well as everything else she's ever written. And then finally, a book I loved this year and though I don't think it's "important fiction" it's worth a read: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Jen said...

Oh, one more! The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

Anonymous said...

What a great list! And I'm intrigued by the Shelley book...is it lit crit or about the creation/reception of Frankenstein or..?

And the NYT/PYT thing? Totally.

Good Enough Woman said...

The Mary Shelley book is not lit crit. Much more lowbrow that that. It's not really academic either, but it's an interesting bio of Shelley, and includes the history of the creation of her novel and a lot of stuff about the gnarly men in her life. Good for the layperson and fun for the academic--at least for this one.

Anonymous said...

Oh, it sounds wonderful! Thanks for the rec and description.