Tuesday, December 30, 2008

End of Year Wrap-Up

Well, it's the end of December, with 2009 looming, inescapable and inevitable. So what better time to compile a list of my favorite books from 2008 than right. this. moment. All of these were read during this year, but not necessarily published this year. I try to keep up on the new releases, but there are so many great (and, let's admit it, mediocre) books from years past that it's hard to keep up with everything.

Out of 64 books read in '08, here are my top 10:

1) PAINT IT BLACK by Janet Fitch -- see the review to find out what all the fuss is about.

2) OUT STEALING HORSES by Per Petterson, translated by Ann Born -- again, check out the review.

3) MAN IN THE DARK by Paul Auster -- masterfully written, an author in full command of his voice and his craft. The ending is a bit of a disappointment, but the whole package is terrific.

4) INDIGNATION by Philip Roth -- it's been a while since I've liked a new Roth novel, but this one was a return to form. Read the review for more.

5) LEAVING PICO by Frank X. Gaspar -- mainly known for his poetry, this first novel is full of rich, stunning details and a story that avoids potential cliches and instead gives truthful, real moments that culminate in a journey well worth taking.

6) THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO by Junot Diaz -- not sure it was worth the Pulitzer, but a terrific read. Check my review for more.

7) THE HOUSE OF PAPER by Carlos Maria Dominguez, with wonderful illustrations by Peter Sis and translated by Nick Caistor -- check out the short review.

8) MAKING A LITERARY LIFE: ADVICE FOR WRITERS AND OTHER DREAMERS by Carolyn See -- a must-read for anyone attempting to make a life as a writer. Top-notch advice from someone who really knows her stuff.

9) TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW FOR SURE by Dorothy Allison -- heartwrenching, disturbing and raw, this autobiography from the author of BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA is ultimately an uplifting and motivational read.

10) ELECTION by Tom Perrotta -- A really quick read, full of sharp dialogue and four different narrative points-of-view, all handled brilliantly by the author of LITTLE CHILDREN, one of my favorite novels.

I also liked quite a few of the novels I had to read for UCLA, including SUMMER by Edith Wharton, TARZAN OF THE APES by Edgar Rice Burroughs, THE PROFESSOR'S HOUSE by Willa Cather and GOD'S LITTLE ACRE by Erskine Caldwell. THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway was also a tremendous read, my second go at his first novel. And lastly, I also really loved the writing style, if not the book as a whole, of DAS KAPITAL: A NOVEL OF LOVE AND MONEY MARKETS by Viken Berberian (check out the review).

For 2009, I'm looking forward to reading:

Janet Fitch's first novel, a young adult tale called KICKS
More stuff by Paul Auster, including TRAVELS IN THE SCRIPTORIUM & THE NEW YORK TRILOGY
Richard Price's LUSH LIFE
The first novel by my friend Alia Yunis, THE NIGHT COUNTER (coming out in July)
David Ebershoff's THE 19TH WIFE
Gayle Brandeis' SELF STORAGE

and anything else that crosses my path or excites my frontal lobe.

HAVE A GREAT 2009!!!