December 08, 2008

TOP 10/ten Best Book in the year 2008

1. 'The Garden of Last Days' by Andre Dubus III

The Garden of Last Days
is instantly interesting and engaging, it grabs one's attention and holds it to the last page. It is compelling, thought-provoking reading that requires the reader to bring a "willing suspension of disbelief" for full appreciation. Strippers are human, too. Hijackers are human also. It is this last characterization that causes the most dis-ease as we read, but the effort is well worth the journey.

2. 'Hold Tight' by Harlan Coben

If there was ever a novel that called for a sociological flow chart, Hold Tight, a community murder mystery, is it. Harlan Coben has constructed a yarn with multiple points of view - a patchwork of tragically affected people connected to an incident of callousness and bad taste that festers into murder and suicide. And no one participant has any way of knowing how it all connects.

3. 'My Revolutions' by Hari Kunzru

My Revolutions is a thrilling novel in which idealism, anger, and social ambition fuel protagonist Michael Frame's involvement with a group of radical activists who protest the Vietnam War in 1960s London. The main character's turn to terrorism runs a recognizable course and offers striking insight into the modern tensions between individual and family, nation and state.

4. 'Outliers: The Story of Success' by Malcolm Gladwell

In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell dissected the phenomena of social epidemics; and in Blink, he discussed the nature of split-second decision-making. In Outliers, Gladwell, the founding father of pop-sociology, examines high-achieving individuals and questions what makes them different from everyone else.

5. 'Serena' by Ron Rash

Set in Waynesville, North Carolina during the depression, Ron Rash's novel Serena traces the story of a wealthy lumber baron and his ruthlessly ambitious wife. Think Lady Macbeth in Appalachia.

6. 'Sharp Teeth' by Toby Barlow

Sharp Teeth
takes the werewolf myth to new heights. It poses the question, "if there were werewolves - not just a single werewolf or even sporadic instances of lycanthropy, but lots and lots of werewolves - what would they do?" According to Toby Barlow, they would form packs like wild dogs, except they wouldn't be dogs - they'd be men

7. 'State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America'

State by State is beautifully bound as something approximating a 1950's textbook and contains essays on 50 states by 50 writers. Each contribution adds something unique to this collection of geographic essays with styles that range from Anthony Doerr's lyrical meditation on the Tukudeka Indians of Idaho to Jonathan Franzen's imagined conversation with New York State's publicist. The individual pieces, often eccentric and personal, are best taken one a day with adequate rumination before attempting to digest another.

8. 'Unaccustomed Earth' by Jhumpa Lahiri

Unaccustomed Earth finds Jhumpa Lahiri at the rising peak of her literary powers. These stories are longer (nearly novella length in some cases) than those in Interpreter of Maladies, her Pulitzer Prize collection of short stories. These new stories reveal a clear progression of her literary power from that first collection to her first novel, The Namesake, to now.

9. 'The Story of Edgar Sawtelle' by David Wroblewski

In The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, far and away the best debut novel of the year, David Wroblewski creates a beautifully imagined world filled with people who grapple with real issues. There is even a dog, Almondine, who shares her thoughts with us. This may be fiction, but it has the feel and punch of Life.

10. 'When Will There Be Good News' by Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson has intertwined what first seem to be many separate stories, giving an added sense of mystery: you know all the characters will connect, but the how and why aren’t always obvious; and the twists to get them there can make your head spin.