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message 1: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 361 comments Each year at New Year's, my sister, friend and I come up with our book awards for the year. It's great fun, especially because you can make the categories as traditional or diverse as you like (I especially have fun with "Favorite Setting" and "Would Make a Great Movie").

Anyway, I'll spare you the list, but just wondered if any of you have a "Top Ten" (or whatever number!) list of books you read in 2008. If you want to jot a few notes about what you loved most about them, that's great, too.

message 2: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 361 comments Favorite Novels (in no particular order):

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters
(those of you who read it for the group, and loved it, know why!!!)

Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space
(this is a YA read; space pirates in Victorian times--absolutely hilarious and very well written. The only novel to fill (even if only slightly) Harry Potter's shoes!)

The Moonstone
Wonderful characterizations! I still laugh at Miss Clack whenever I think of her.

JANE EYRE (can't believe I waited all this time to read it!!!)

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
(another YA novel--this one is soo sweet and reminds me a bit of "Little Women" but with younger sisters)

Honorable Mentions

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians

Summer at Tiffany

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Favorite Children’s Books:
Sophie and Rose by Kathryn Laskey;;
Zen Ties by John J Muth;
Scarecrow by Cynthia Rylant;
Dahlia by Barbara McClintock;
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen;

message 3: by Dottie (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:46AM) (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments The Picture of Dorian Gray - Wilde (5)RGBC

Fahrenheit 451 - Bradbury (5)RGBC

The Enchanted April (4) CC

On Chesil Beach - Mc Ewan (4+) CR

Bridge of Sighs - Russo (4+) CR

The Whistling Season - Doig (4+) CR

The Golden Notebook - Lessing (5) CC

Surfacing - Atwood (4+) CR

The Blood of Flowers - Amirrezvani (4+) (Thanks, Sandy!)

Ella Minnow Pea - Dunn (5) RGBC

Water for Elephants - Gruen (4+) ?

Counselor Ayres Memorial - Machado de Asis (4) GR

Esau and Jacob - Machado de Asis (4) GR

The Hand and the Glove - Machado de Assis (3) GR

Vida - Piercy (5)

Empires of Sand - Ball (Thanks here must go to Bob M.! Without his reco of Ball's book Ironfire some years back, I would never have picked up this one which I also loved.)

The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue - O'Brien CC

Dracula - Stoker RGBC

Frankenstein - Shelley RGBC

The Catcher in the Rye - Sallinger (5) RGBC

Okay -- the numerals are the stars I gave -- the letters are the groups responsible for my reading these particular books during this year -- thanks to Classics Corner for O'Brien and Lessing as well as my revisit to Enchanted April, to Rory Gilmore Book Club "girls" (and the "boys" who show up from time to time as well) for my return visits with old long-time favs like Bradbury, Wilde in concert with a new fav Dunn's Ella Minnow Pea and for getting me to read classics long unread -- Dracula, Frankenstein and another book which goes onto the all-time fav list -- The Catcher in the Rye, GR (Goodreads) gets a big thank you for my intro to Brazillian author Machado de Assis and as always the "constant" in my online book life, Constant Reader, gets credit not only for those listed but for others as well. I can tell I've been under good influences all around here because I've pulled twice the titles out of the hat as I normally would have been able to do in years past.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

My absolute favorite as a nonfiction has been
Putin's Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy.
I am currently pretty much interested in Eastern Europe and Russia, so I picked it up when I saw it in a bookstore without really knowing what it was about - I only recognized Politkowskaya's name and knew she had been shot because of her political criticism.
It's such a great book showing how the political situation in Russia really is.
I can only recommend it.

My favorite fiction last year was:
The Catcher in the Rye (picked up thanks to you guys)
Emma (also thanks to you)
Wuthering Heights
Dr. Fischer of Geneva or: The bomb party
The Stranger

message 5: by Synova (new)

Synova | 20 comments Favorites for this year:

Jane Eyre - I can't believe it took me so long to read it
the Twilight Series - pure escapism who could resist?
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell - not great literature and extremely offensive, but so funny that I almost wet my pants laughing.

message 6: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
What a great idea for a thread, Kathryn! I myself came up with a number of "book awards" this year... a lot of them were book club reads in this group and others in Goodreads, and also friend recommendations.

Books That Made Me Go "Wow" category
The title says it all.

A. Fiction
1. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
>>A feminist dystopia which leaves you astonished and horrified.
2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
>>This creative breakthrough is sweet and sad at the same time.
3. Blindness by José Saramago
>>A crumbling society described in never-ending paragraphs. Some parts of the story were quite disturbing for me.

B. Non-fiction
I actually don't do a lot of non-fiction because I'm more into novels. I think I only read about four non-fiction books this past year but two of them stood out.
1. Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer
>>Intense, mesmerizing and tragic.
2. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
>>An author takes us with her on a journey of a lifetime.

Finally-Tackled Classics category
I didn't get to read many classics at school despite my majoring in English literature, so I'm compensating nowadays.

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
>>One tough lady tackles the ups and downs of life and love.
2. Dracula by Bram Stoker
>>This blood-sucking creature has paved the way for subsequent vampire fiction.
3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
>>This represents the five Austen books I read this year. One more to go next year, Mansfield Park, and I'll be officially Austen-literate.

Pleasant Surprises category
These are the ones which I walked into with modest expectations but turned out to be worthwhile reads.

1. Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
>>Sweet and funny, with a clever way with words. I'm looking forward to reading more from the author.
2. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
>>A lot funnier and lighter than I expected, but still has the trademark Gaiman style.
3. After Dark by Haruki Murakami
>>The first time I read a Murakami book I couldn't finish it, but this one is short, simple and meaningful.

I'm Just Not That Into It category
None of the books I read this year were awful or anything, but here are some that were less than impressive.

1. PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
>>The writing felt amateurish, and some parts could have been more brief.
2. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
>>Some stories in this collection are quite funny, but others barely made me crack a grin.
3. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
>>Maybe it's because I haven't read drama in a long time, but this one didn't really do it for me.

Will This Book Ever End? category
These are the books that took a great chunk of my time to read.

1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
>>I would've enjoyed this better had it been more succinct and to the point. There was too much build up before the action and numerous god name-dropping.
2. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
>>I read the abridged version, but even that felt long-winded. Luckily the plot-driven story sustained me till the end.
3. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
>>The translated version I read was rather awkward, and the book's latter half was more interesting than the first.

message 7: by Deborah (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:39AM) (new)

Deborah | 283 comments It was a banner year for reading, but I have to say my favorite read last year was Bel Canto. Trying to describe this book is like trying to describe love.

Other faves were:

Three Cups of Tea
The Time Traveler's Wife
Water for Elephants
The Count of Monte Cristo

And thanks, GiGis, for bringing the Marches back into my life this holiday season. I wound up reading all three Alcott books (four if you count Little Women as two).

message 8: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Bel Canto is a marvelous book, isn't it? One may quibble over the ending or not but for me the overall effect of it was positive.

message 9: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Kathryn, The Moonstone is on my shelf right now, and I very much want to read it, but the sheer size of it always seems so daunting! Good on you!

Dini, great response! As for The Time Traveler's Wife, I read it in English - which is my first language - and honestly I felt the same way... it took too long. I think for me it was the whole trying to get pregnant thing - it went on infinitum.

I hadn't really thought about my faves of the year. I'd probably have to do categories as well (like Dini). But I don't want to think about it right now because I'm really into my current read and want to get back to it!! Okay, plus I'm craving chocolate. LOL See you soon - off to read! Hee!

P.S. Clever with the book awards categories, Kathryn!

message 10: by Stella (new)

Stella (stella_exlibris) | 57 comments Great thread Kathryn! (Loved your categories Dini!)

Best of 2008

Desert Island Books I Have Discovered:

Outlander (or Cross Stitch) by Diana Gabaldon - loved it so much, I had to re re-read it 3 weeks after having finished it for the 1st time, even though it was around 800 pages

Emma by Jane Austen - read it for the 1st time, and LOVED it! It's a very close tie between P&P and Emma for my favourite Austen novel. Loved its witty humour, its endearing characterizations, the heartwarming blossoming love, loved Emma's funny good intentions, and of course Mr. Knightley. :-)

Best Paranormal:

Bitten (and the Women of the Otherworld series) by Kelley Armstrong: her writing quality is exceptional, brilliant!

(Twilight and) Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

Just Loved Them:

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

These are the very best I can think of (I'm rather crtical) right now.

Dini, I hated the Timetraveler's Wife. Found it boring, dull, dragging and the quality of the writing not good at all, which was an even greater disappointment, since the initial idea was so great and original! I wanted to get back those hours I spent reading it! grr

Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner) (perpetualpageturner) books i loved in 2008:

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Things They Carried
Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus

Guilty Pleasure books that I loved:

the whole Twilight series!

message 12: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 361 comments I'm loving all these posts and getting some great ideas for reads in 2009! ;->

Dini, your categories are great!!!

Michele, I, too, was a bit daunted by the sheer size of "The Moonstone" but I must say that, for me (and my husband, we both read it) that it did not drag one bit. Collins is a master of characterization and the narrative is from six (if I remember correctly) POVs so rather than finding it dull and thinking it long-winded, I was actually bummed sometimes upon switching narrators as I liked each so well I didn't want his/her commentary to end!

Literary Multitudes (literary_multitudes) | 49 comments Great thread and great categories! :-)

I must admit I didn't read too much last year and right now thinking about it, nothing come to mind... (but I must have read some good stuff...). But I loved reading your favorites.
And I'll be better in 2009. :)

message 14: by Amy (new)

Amy | 2 comments I just joined this group and am looking forward to it. Also, glad to see some of my favorites listed in this discussion.

Stella-Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford is one of my all time favorites. Love in a Cold Climate by her is also very good.

Oh, and I just started reading The Time Traveler's Wife and I just can't get into it. I am glad I am not the only one.

Some of my favorites this year...

The Blackstone Key: A Novel I couldn't put this one down. The sequel comes out in April and I can hardly wait.
The Night Journal
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Lover's Knot: A Someday Quilts Mystery

And good, quick , perhaps guilty reads...
AustenlandPicked this one up in a "must read anything Austen related" phase
Mr. Darcy's Diary ditto from the one above :)
Ex and the Single Girl I picked this one up on a whim at the library and was pleasantly surprised. I plan on reading more by this author.

message 15: by Chris (last edited Jan 06, 2009 11:21AM) (new)

Chris | 1 comments I'm new to this group too and I clicked on this thread to get some recommendations to read.

My favorites this year were:

Atonement: A Novel
Wrack and Ruin: A Novel
American Wife: A Novel
Unaccustomed Earth

message 17: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
I had a great time creating my "award categories", and I'm glad you guys like it too :)

I've been hearing a lot of good comments lately about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Might be interesting to check it out.

And to Amy and Chris -- welcome to the group!

message 18: by Stella (new)

Stella (stella_exlibris) | 57 comments Welcome Amy and Chris!

Amy, I'm reading Love ina Cold Climate right now, and hugely enjoying it! I just love Nancy Mitford's so very strange, sarcasticly witty yet realistic writing. And her characters! don't get me started! :-) I can so picture Uncle Matthew yelling in the house with the gramophone as background music, and those children hunts! had me laughing out loud on the bus! :-D

After LiaCC, I plan to read a biography about the Mitfords (The Mitford Girls by Mary S. Lowell if I remember correctly), because after discovering Nancy's world thorugh her novels, I'm fascinated and wants to know more about these exceptional women.

Kathryn, I discovered Wilkie Collins this year, read The Woman in White, which I found great! (and I don't know how I could forget about it while compiling my list) What you say you enjoyed so much about The Moonstone - the evr changing POVs- is also what I loved! It gave us a much more complex and layered version of the story, yet, you could never know if you could trust the narrator or if he/she was lying. And that suspense and insecurity gave the whole story and the writing a new quality. Would recommend The Woman in White too, it is very enjoyable!

message 19: by Synova (new)

Synova | 20 comments Stella,

have you read the rest of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series? I read Outlander years ago and loved it, and now I eagerly await each new installment. (since the books are so long she takes quite a while)

message 20: by Stella (new)

Stella (stella_exlibris) | 57 comments Synova wrote: "Stella,

have you read the rest of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series? I read Outlander years ago and loved it, and now I eagerly await each new installment. (since the books are so long she takes quite a while) "

Synova, I Have only read the first 3 yet, but I'm planning on reading the rest too! I fell so madly in love with outlander, that I re-read the whole novel twice in 2 weeks!(at first it started out me re-reading just a few passages, which grew into whole pages, then complete chapters, and then I couldn't stop!)

I read Dragonfly in Amber quite fast too, and liked it (though the urge to re-read right after I have finished it didn't possess me, maybe because of the heartache and a bit more sinister storyline), and my reading of Voyager dragged a bit. I have read in reviews that the 4th is very much praised and that many people found Voyager (and Fiery Cross maybe? but I'm not sure) the "weakest link", so I hope the 4th will get me back in the saddle :-) Wonderful series! and the way she writes her characters mm..

message 21: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 361 comments Thanks, Stella. I plan to read "The Woman in White" very soon! :-)

Dini, I hope you enjoy "Guernsey Literary..." when you read it. I know some people were disappointed in it, but I really enjoyed it! It's not brilliant literature, but is still a good story with great characters and some interesting historical background. Plus, yes, it is a story about people who love to read--what could be better!? ;->

message 22: by Katie (new)

Katie Burdett (burdek) My favorites of 2008
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society---I adored this book and didn't want it to end. A wonderful book!
The Twelve Little Cakes
Wish you Well
Time Travelers Wife
The Good Earth
Count of Monte Cristo
Bel Canto

message 23: by Elizabeth (last edited Jan 07, 2009 06:06PM) (new)

Elizabeth Kathryn, Fantastic thread idea! Thanks! :)

My Favorite fiction piece was Life of Pi just because it was so different and the ending had a great twist. I also enjoyed: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

For the first time this year I read a lot of non-fiction and I am so glad that I did. I learned a lot and enjoyed some high quality reading. Here are my favorites:
Slave by Mende Nazer - I couldn't put this book down and it left me completely stunned. My copy has now been passed around to at least 5 different people (that I know of) and they all felt the same way that I did.

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers byLoung Ung which had a similar impact on me as Slave. There is a sequel which I plan to read this year.

And finally...Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O'Brien. This book is very sweet and an amazing story that I never even considered before.

message 24: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Amy, I read Mr. Darcy's Diary this year. I thought I'd done a little review, but I must have just talked about it in one of the threads in this group. It was fun.

Stella, The Woman in White is sitting right next to The Moonstone on my shelf - both waiting to be read! I very much want to read both, but I think I want to go with The Moonstone first because years ago I saw the Masterpiece Theatre enactment of it and was fascinated. I wanted to read No Name like crazy after reading a chapter of The Polysyllabic Spree a couple years ago, but then I read the next chapter... and took it off of my list. LOL! Gotta love that Hornby! (Okay, I know some of you didn't, but you must admit that turnaround was really funny!)

message 25: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Old favorites re-read this year:

*Fahrenheit 451
Harry Potter 1 & 2
**Two Jane Austen novels (not in my all-time fave of hers, though)

Newly read books that made the greats list:

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
The Tale of Despereaux
The Big Sleep
*The Thin Man

Other fabulous reads:

The Magician's Nephew
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Eat, Pray, Love
*The Code of the Woosters

Honorable mentions:

*The Song Reader
A Thread of Grace
*Ella Minnow Pea

(The star indicates it is from Rory's original list.)

I wanted to mention that I have been, over the past several years, reading through a mystery series. Several of the books in the series have been phenomenal reads. But for some reason, I just can't seem to put a mystery book on this list - no matter how amazing. Okay, I lied. I've at least two up there already! LOL So I'll just mention the Lynley Mysteries by Elizabeth George are worth a go at. They are long, but good. And of course, some are better than others. The one I started a couple of days ago is riveting - I'm off to read more of it now!

message 26: by Natalie (last edited Jan 07, 2009 10:18PM) (new)

Natalie | 23 comments Deborah wrote: "It was a banner year for reading, but I have to say my favorite read last year was Bel Canto. Trying to describe this book is like trying to describe love . . .

Wow, so glad I came across your comment, Deborah! Bel Canto is my hands down fav for this year as well and, like you, I am - nearly! - at a loss to describe its' magic. After reading it, I listened to the audio version which was somehow even more enchanting: I find Patchett's books particularly well-suited to this medium, or maybe it's just the great readers . . .
Beyond the lyrical writing, one notices the same theme developed beautifully in all her works. That is, an unusual circumstance creates strange bedfellows: two radically different groups of people are unwilling intimates, soon to discover - just below the surface - a commonality, a connection on the essential, deeper level. They come to appreciate, to love each other. If you haven't, check out The Magician's Assistant and Run.
For the record, I also really liked Atonement & When Madeline Was Young this year.

message 27: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
So I went to add The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to my bookmooch wishlist per your recommendations... holy crap! I've never seen so many name on a wishlist there! There are HUNDREDS of them. I'm thinking this is one I'll have to buy, or keep an eye out for at the use bookstore.

message 28: by Stella (new)

Stella (stella_exlibris) | 57 comments I'm so glad so many of you have liked Miss Pettigrew.. I haven't read it yet, but saw the film, and fell instantly in love with the story, bought the novel, the audiobook, so that's on my TBR in 2009 list, it's encouraging to see that you have enjoyed it all so much :-)

message 29: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker | 315 comments I think Peyton Place was probably my favorite read of the year.

Honorable mentions go to The Bell Jar, Mash: A Novel About Three Army Doctors and The Godfather.

I didn't read as much as I would have liked or should have in 08. I plan on making 09 a much better year.

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