Salon Book Awards 2008

December 12, 2008 has released their list of the 5 best fiction and non-fiction books of 2008. Moreover, their introduction to the lists is one of the most articulate descriptions of the joy of reading we’ve read recently:

“The conventional wisdom in publishing holds that tough economic times are good for books, because books provide more hours of entertainment per dollar, more life-enhancing education and more grist for post-materialistic soul-searching than any other form of purchasable culture.

There’s no doubt that escapism pays, especially when there’s plenty to escape from, but great books continue to be published and read, and many of these also provide welcome respite for jittery readers. Remember what it was like to slow down, take the phone off the hook and immerse yourself in a story, true or invented, that made the world around you disappear for hours on end? Or to give yourself the time to understand some important aspect of this world in a deeper and more comprehensive way than any newspaper or magazine can offer?”

After an introduction like that, who could resist peeking at their 10 favorites and making a bee-line to the library, if you haven’t already enjoyed them?

Fiction winners:
2666 by Roberto Bolaño
A Person of Interest by Susan Choi
The Likeness by Tana French
Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen
The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher

Non-Fiction winners:
Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood by Mark Harris
The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals by Jane Mayer
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale
Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are by Rob Walker
The Suicide Index: Putting My Father’s Death in Order by Joan Wickersham