Monday, December 29, 2008

Best Books of 2008

I set a reasonable goal of 26 books in 2008, or a new book every other week. In reality I read more like 40 books, but do not have an exact tally since I have returned most of them to the library. I probably skimmed or read parts of another 50 or so books.

The best of 2008 includes one novel and five works of non-fiction; this ratio roughly approximates my reading as a whole.

  1. First Circle by Alexander Solzhinitsin (fiction, although based on true events)
  2. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan
  3. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
  4. All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew
  5. The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why by Amanda Ripley
  6. One Small Boat: The Story of a Little Girl, Lost Then Foundby Kathy Harrison

If I were a good blogger, I would review each of these books in detail. I am not, so take it on my word that each of these five is worth a read. Be forewarned, however, that the final selection is a tearjerker that may make you go out and become a foster parent.

In case this list leads you to believe that I only read serious books, I also read books like
Dean Koontz' Sole Survivor (which drew me in, but had a very lame ending) and 1862 by Robert Conroy (which is offers an intriguing but implausible hypothetical history of British involvement in the US Civil War). I also read my first Jodi Picoult book -- My Sister's Keeper -- which was very good, but not as amazing as I had been led to expect. Unlike many books (Sole Survivor for example), the ending was excellent. The problem was the incomplete character development and utter sappiness. On the other hand, I was unexpectedly impressed with my first Janet Evanovich book -- One for the Money. It was entertaining and did not take itself too seriously.

Anyone have suggestions for what I should read in 2009?


Julie said...

You are a good blogger! As for books to read: I strongly recommend Nourishing Traditions, though I think you probably would have guessed that it would be my suggestion.

Jenny said...

I think Omnivore's Dilemma was excellent but haven't read In Defense of Food yet. If you haven't read it yet, I would highly recommend Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.

I will soon be posting my reading list from 2008 at which point I'll have a better idea what I recommend. :)

reprehriestless warillever said...

I think that In Defense of Food was even better than Omnivore's Dilemma, although there is some significant overlap between the two. The concept is very simple -- to eat well, forget about nutrition and make sure that what you are eating is actually food. If your grandmother would not recognize the ingredients as food, it is not food. I have not read Nourishing Traditions yet, but I gather that the advice is similar.

Kate in NJ said...

Janet Evanovich is from my hometown..not where I live, but where we were raised, so I have read all her books, and I usually enjoy them..only if I have coffee and a jelly donut nearby.
Now you know many of my guilty pleasures. ;-)