the best of ought eight - the words edition

It's that time of year again when everyone and their dog starts compiling their year-end best-of lists. Since I hate to be left out of the fun, I've decided to do the same. This year, I'm doing the top eight in three different categories, books, movies and music. Some of the chosen ones may have been published/produced/released in years other than '08, but since this is the year I happened to find them, this is when they get counted. I know, it's very solipsistic of me. Deal.

First up are the top 8 books that I read this year. See if you can figure out was unwittingly a theme.

Best Books of 08

8. Freakangels | Warren Ellis:
I'm a huge fan of the graphic novel (or comic book if you must), especially well written and well drawn ones. I'm also a huge fan of Warren Ellis. He's a brilliant man. In this series, he tells the story of 12 kids who were born at the exact same time on the exact same date and possess uncanny abilities that the rest of the human race don't. When the kids were 17 they got together and ended the world in some way not yet explained, and now they're trying to make good.

7. Ender's Game | Orson Scott Card: This series has been out for a very long time and for some reason, despite its popularity, I completely missed it. In a world where people have to petition the government to have a third child, the human race finds itself fighting an alien race for its very survival. Will it find salvation in a twelve-year-old boy who was born a Third?

6. World War Z | Max Brooks: Zombies! I love me some zombies. Mr Brooks uses a journalistic documentary approach to tell the story of the last war (hopefully) that humans will ever fight. Against zombies. It's much more brilliant than it sounds. Well written and highly imaginative.

5. The Hours | Michael Cunningham: I had to wait a long, long time before I read this book so that the movie would vacate my brain. Not that I didn't like the movie, because I did, very much, but I wanted to make sure my brain could be as untainted as it possibly could be. I'm happy with my decision as I think I fell in love with the characters reading this as I did watching it.

4. The Pesthouse | Jim Crace: In an America that is slowly dying from some unexplained disease, its citizens have reverted back to the ways of simpler times as the knowledge of technological things has also disappeared they are left to fend to themselves without the benefit of hospitals, computers, cars or even super markets. Rumors have spread far and wide about life being better in Europe so many of the people undertake the arduous journey to the east coast to buy passage on one of the many fabled ships arriving every spring. This is the story of two such travelers who meet on the road, fall in love and try to make a stand together.

3. The Yiddish Policeman's Union | Michael Chabon: In a fictional America of the not-so-distant-past, the Jewish citizens have been exiled to The Last Frontier where they have established an uneasy peace with the natives of that land. On the surface, this is a story of one tired, lonely, alcoholic police detective who is just trying to solve a murder of one of the community's most famous denizens. Beneath that are political, socio-economic, religous undertones that give this tale a very biting edge.

2. A Thousand Splendid Suns | Khaled Hosseini: Hosseini shines again in this follow-up to his brilliant debut, The Kite Runner. Here he continues his history of his homeland, Afghanistan, but this time it's through the eyes of two very disparate women who come to find their lives and fates entertwined. It was terrifying and hopeful, heartbreaking and joyful all at the same time. He has a way of showing the basest of human beings and their horrible actions against members of their own species and shining a light so brightly through their victims that it makes you almost willing to forgive everything we've ever done to each other.

1. The Whole World Over | Julia Glass:
Glass is one of those rare authors who can make the lives of ordinary people seem somehow extraordinary and beautiful. In this go-round she once again details the lives of a New York family and their struggles to co-exist through life's ordinary trials as well as its extraordinary ones.

Honorable mention shout outs go to:

Complete Stories | Flannery O'Connor
Man Gone Down | Michael Thomas
Daughters of the North | Sarah Hall


LSL said...

Love the list-making!

Word verification: unbort. Is this some right-wing conspiracy?

Rebel said...

re: #1 - any book with that much bread on the cover has got to be a good thing.

re: #7 - The enemy's gate is down!!!

Call It Courage said...

Thanks Sean! You are helping me populate my To Read list of 2009.