Here it is! My top thirteen booklist for 2008. I have been keeping track of the books I read for several years now, and because I’m a fast reader, I include commentary so I don’t forget what they were about. At the end of the year, I like to make a baker’s dozen list of my favorite books of the year. It is usually harder to choose than it was this time. My goal this year was to read more non-fiction. Note that only two of the chosen ones are not fiction! Anyway, here are my choices(Not in preferential order):
1. Dragon Bones. By Lisa See ~ Fiction
Main character is Liu Hulan, an American educated Chinese woman who is Inspector of Security in modern day China, married to American Attorney, David Stark. Their child has died, they are estranged. Both sent to the Three Gorges to investigate a murder and the disappearance of many ancient Chinese relics from an archaeological dig. Thriller, spellbinding. See is incredible.
2. The Gate. By Francoise Bizot ~ Memoir
The memoir of a man who was held captive in a Cambodian camp at the beginning of the Khmer Rouge reign. Poignant, beautifully written.
3. The Other Boleyn Girl. By Philippa Gregory ~ Historical Fiction
The story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII. I know they made a movie of it, but the book is way better. It’s a page turner, for sure. Sometimes I just want one of those, and this one seems to tie pretty well with history.
4. The Street of a Thousand Blossoms. By Gail Tsukiyama ~ Historical Fiction
Japan at the time of Pearl Harbor, 1939; It has themes of Sumo Wrestling, Noh mask making as well as Japan in that era. Beautifully written, as always. Tsukiyama is a must-read author for me. I have loved each of her books.
5. The Fountainhead. By Ayn Rand ~ Fiction
It’s Ayn Rand…Hard to read but completely compelling. I read Loving Frank right afterwards – the similarities are strong between the main character in The Fountainhead and Frank Lloyd Wright.
6. Prisoner in Tehran. By Marina Nemat ~ Memoir
True story of an Iranian woman’s imprisonment in Evit prison in Tehran during the 1980s. Completely compelling – highly recommended.
7. Loving Frank. By Nancy Horan ~ Historical Fiction
The story of a love affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah which scandalized society. Closely tied with historical fact. Hard to finish once I knew how it would end. (Because of course I Googled Mamah and Frank and read the Wikipedia entries while halfway through the book)
8. The Latehomecomer. By Kao Kalia Yang ~ Memoir
Hmong story – eloquent. This is the story about the Hmong I had long wished existed. The book is divided in three parts, the first about life in Laos just before the author’s family escaped, the second about life in Ban Vinai refugee camp, where the author was born and the last about life in MInnesota where they came to live in the U.S. It is so beautifully written, and my young Hmong friends say it tells their own story very well.
9. Love Walked In. By Marisa de los Santos. ~ Fiction
I loved this book. Loved it!!! It is the story of love in its different forms – romantic as well as that of friends. It is the sort of book that I wish had lasted longer.
10. Sweetness in the Belly. By Camilla Gibb ~ Fiction
I started listening to this book on CD in my car, but it was so good I decided I had to read it. The time jumping became too confusing for listening, as well. It is about Muslims in Africa then London. The main character is a young English woman who was left alone as a child in a sufi shrine in Morocco when her parents left town for a weekend and were murdered. She had no other relatives and grows up studying the Qu’ran intensely. No further details here – I loved it.
11. Run. By Anne Patchett. ~ Fiction Outstanding. Must read. The story of a white academic family who adopted two African American boys, and the birth mother of the boys who, without anyone knowing keeps an eye on them their whole growing-up lives. Patchett is so good. (Author of Bel Canto and several other good ones.)
12. Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens, author of The Girls. ~ Fiction Fabulous. Just read it. It is the story of a little girl who is left with a trailer park neighbor when her mother leaves with her current boyfriend and never returns. The story is so compelling. Lansens is another author who is so far completely dependable. (Her first book, The Girls is another I highly recommend. Just didn’t read it this year!)
13. Looking for Alaska, by John Green. ~ Fiction A YA novel set in a boarding school in Alabama. When I began it, I thought it resembled “Catcher in the Rye.” It quickly deviates from that course, and is a thoughtful, compelling read. This was a gift from a young friend who is a prodigious reader. Her taste in literature is impeccable – I loved this book!
If you want to see the entire list for 2008, it is at http://lynnjake.wordpress.com.
I hope you find something to read!