Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Top 10 Books of 2008

I pretty much read constantly, usually 2-3 books at the same time. It was a hard thing to do, but I've managed to narrow down the books I've read this past year to the top 10 I would recommend. The last 3, I've already blogged about so I will simply link you to those posts. These are in no particular order, except the first one, because it was my absolute favorite.

Crossing California by Adam Langer
This book examines the lives of 4 families in Chicago from '79-'80. A mix of races, religions and social levels, these families are interwoven in many ways when the book begins, their relationships only becoming more complex as you go along. Perspective shifts from character to character, parent and teens alike. The story will suck you in while creating a unique window into the past. After I read this book, the ONLY thing I wanted to read was its sequel, which you should also check out. It's called The Washington Story.

Rumo and his Miraculous Adventures by Watler Moers
Set in the crazy-awesome continent of Zamonia, Rumo, a sentient dog-like hero, is searching for his "silver thread" - a mysterious scent he "sees" and follows to his people's city-fortress and his one true love. But finding them is just the first part of his quest. To win his love's heart, he runs off to do something to prove his love, only to return to find the entire city-fortress deserted. The rest of the book is about how Rumo saves his entire species from being forced to kill each other off as gladiators and his love from the crazy torturing techniques of a robot killer. If that doesn't pull you in, I don't know what will.

A Door into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski
This sci fi novel examines the differences between personal power and "power" over others by setting up two planet moons that circle each other, one a mechanized, highly stratified society, the other a nanotech using, biological manipulation expert, egalitarian lesbian ocean society. Sounds fun, right? The story covers how the lesbians stand up to the invasion force of the mechanized planet, even as it threatens to destroy their eco-system, lifestyle and their very existence. A great amount of detail goes into creating the lezzie ocean world and it comes alive in an impressively easy manner - not like some sci fi books. If you're interested at all in ecology, not giving in to bullies or lesbian love, you should read this book.

Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar
I don't usually read vampire or werewolf books as a rule, but this one just looked so interesting that I broke with tradition and read my very first werewolf novel this year. Lonely Werewolf Girl doesn't just cover the story of any old werewolves. It's all about the ruling family of werewolves in Scotland and there wayward daughter, Kalix, a laudanum addict who runs away to bum homelessly around London after her parents banish her werewolf boyfriend. Rescued from the werewolves hunting for her by a couple of humans, Kalix's life becomes permanently entwined with theirs as she is pulled into the battle for control of the ruling family and must decide whether to lose herself in oblivion or to take her place on the werewolf council. This book was way more fascinating than it had any right to be.

Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe

Wataru's life sucks. His dad left and his mom attempted suicide, so in a desperate try to change his life forever, Wataru enters the magical land of Vision where he can make any wish he desires after he reaches the Tower of Destiny. But there's a classmate of his also there, and only one can have his wish granted. This and a myrid of other problems along the way assail our hero, who has to earn 5 gemstones to gain entrance to the Tower. Along the way to collect these gems, Wataru becomes a totally different person who ends up wishing something completely different that he planned. Even though this is translated from Japanese, it is still totally absorbing and reads wonderfully. It's a bit of a read though at 824 pages! Not for the faint of heart.

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

This is another book that, like Crossing California, switches between differing character perspectives: Diana, a National Park Service employee who observes coyotes, Garnett Walker, a grouchy old farmer who lives in the nearby town, newly widowed entomologist Lusa Maluf Landowski and more. Examining the interconnection of species' survival, human relations and nature as a whole, Prodigal Summer is a celebration of how the natural world enriches our lives and the ability of humans to change. This line of dialogue pretty much sums it up: "Everything alive is connected to every other by fine, invisible threads. Things you don't see can help you plenty, and things you try to control will often rear back and bite you, and that's the moral of the story."

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
This book will make you cry if you're anything like me. The Memory Keeper's Daughter tells the story of a doctor who delivers his own twins. This is 1964 where mother's were gassed for the birth and the only witness to the birth is the doctor and his nurse. When the twins are born and the girl is discovered to have the same disease that killed the doctor's sister when he was a kid, a tragedy his mother never recovered from. Desperate to save his wife from the same state of constant life-long depression, the doctor convinces the nurse to take his daughter to a home. Instead, she leaves town with the baby and sets up a new life in another town with the girl as her own daughter, thanks to the mostly-blank birth certificate the doctor rushed her out with. The story switches between the two families as they struggle to cope with what happened, although only the doctor and his now ex-nurse know what really happened since he told his wife that their daughter died. Tragic and beautiful all at the same time, this book is about decisions that change your life and living with them after.

Bento Box in the Heartland by Linda Furiya
This is a memoir, the best I've read in a long time. Go here to read my post on it.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Alexie Sherman
This is a great fictionalized reality about the state of Indians on reservations. Go here to read my post about it.

Postsingular by Rudy Rucker
A fabulously insane sci-fi story that boggled my little head. Go here to read the post.

Related posts:
My Top 5 Web Comics
My Top 10 Authors

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1 comment:

dangerousdaisy said...

Memory Keeper's Daughter - like most movies made from books, the movie blows and keeps too many people from reading the book which is eons better.

You have impecable taste.