I read 332 this year - a new record. I never feel like I'm reading more than the year before, so I don't know how that happens.
13 were audiobooks; the rest I read in print.
Four were volumes of essays: David Foster Wallace, Sloane Crosby, Augusten Burroughs, and an anthology. One was a graphic novel: American Born Chinese
. One was a book of monologues: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!
, this year's Newbery, which I was apparently alone in enjoying. Four were collections of short stories by multiple authors. 71 were nonfiction, and the rest were straight-up novels.
Five were recommendations from maryjotigermilk
; two from Angie Manfredi; one from Arturo; only four from Becky
, which seems odd; one from Claire; one from nerdliberation
; one from Katharine; one from Kurt Cobain (his favorite book was Perfume
by Patrick Suskind); one from Megan; one from my mom; two from Nancy Pearl; one from Raelene; one from Sars
; and one from Yelena. Double Identity
by Margaret Peterson Haddix has the notation "little girl at library"; some random little kid loved it, and I listened to her, and it was indeed good. Most of the rest were ones I reread, or picked up randomly, or learned about from publishers, reviews, or listservs.
Mostly I read only one book by any given author, but there were exceptions, most notably Torey Hayden, Maud Hart Lovelace, and Ann M. Martin.
I read two books written in the nineteenth century: On the Way Home
by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1894), and What Katy Did
by Susan Coolidge (1872). Fifteen more were from the first half of the twentieth century; five from the 1950s; five from the 60s; eight from the 70s; fifteen from the 80s; 62 from the 90s; and the rest were from this century, including 83 from 2008 and three that won't come out until 2009.
It was harder than usual to pick a top ten this year. I read about thirty books that were totally awesome. After a painfully difficult soul-searching, I decided on these eleven, in no particular order.
Tana French, In the Woods
: Lovely intense genre-busting murder mystery, set in Ireland, heavy on police procedure. Couldn't put it down, and I'm going to read everything else she ever writes.
Stewart O'Nan, Last Night at the Lobster
: Short, surprisingly suspenseful novel about the staff at a Red Lobster restaurant on the last night before they're shut down.
Sister Souljah, Midnight
: Long-awaited sequel to The Coldest Winter Ever
. Not nearly as ghetto-fabulous, but compelling in its own way and probably better-written.
Wally Lamb, The Hour I First Believed
: His best effort yet follows the pattern of I Know This Much is True
; middle-aged man goes soul-searching after a family crisis and gets involved with historical family documents whose full texts are interwoven with the main story. Covers Columbine, drug addiction, and dead babies.
Theresa Rebeck, Three Girls and Their Brother
: Daisy's sleeper hit of 2008. I had no idea I'd love this compulsively readable tale of three teenage models and their dysfunctional family, but I finished it all in one late night.
Gene Luan Yang, American Born Chinese
: The only graphic novel I read this year, and I fell in love with it. Three intertwining stories, each independently fascinating, come together in an unexpected way.
Marian Winik, First Comes Love
: You have to have a strong stomach to read this memoir about weird love and heroin addiction, but it's worth it.
Elizabeth Scott, Living Dead Girl
: Even if you get through First Comes Love
, you might not be tough enough for this one. It's the story of a ten-year-old abducted by a pedophile and kept for years, and describes her daily assaults as well as her captor's efforts to keep her childlike after puberty by starving her. Brutal, compelling, mandatory.
Cory Doctorow, Little Brother
: Everyone's talking about this one, and for good reason: the tale of a high school student abducted by Homeland Security after a terrorist attack, and what happens after he's released, is quite possibly the best book of 2008.
David Wroblewski, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
: Exactly the opposite of Little Brother
, this adult novel nonetheless got similar buzz. It's a slow, meandering, perfect story about a boy who can't speak, the dogs he trains, and what happens when his mom wants to marry his uncle.
Patricia Wood, The Lottery
: Narrated by a man with an IQ of 76, it describes what happens when he wins the lottery and his life becomes complicated.