Catching Up On 2008’s Best Books

November 25, 2009

We know it’s a busy time what with all the family and social events of the holidays upon us but there should always be a part of every day spent reading something you enjoy. This year has produced a plethora of books with long holds lists so we’d like to recommend some of last year’s best books that you may have missed or overlooked. What better way to pass the time while you wait for your turn to read The Help or The Last Symbol?

2008 was a great year for book lovers. Check out any of the long-lists for the major literary awards and they were full of viable contenders. Here are a few we’d like to recommend again:

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga ~~ “In this novel about India’s class struggles, an amoral chauffeur who has risen up from his poor village, relates to the Chinese premier how, with bloody entrepreneurship, he got ahead in life.” Adiga’s next book, Between The Assassinations, is on award short-lists this year and also comes highly recommended.

The Elegance Of The Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery ~~ “In this bestseller from France, a friendship develops between a disillusioned 12-year-old girl and the concierge at her family’s exclusive Paris apartment.” Packed with reflections on the wisdom that comes from disappointment and success and only with age contrasted with the wisdom and cynicism of youth. Too brief a treat so don’t miss out on her Gourmet Rhapsody.

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry ~~  Barry is no stranger to award short lists and The Secret Scripture won last year’s Costa Award for good reason. This is one of the most beautifully written and memorable books we have enjoyed recently and it is hauntingly narrated in the audio version–also available on our Overdrive downloadable audiobook service. “Barry explores long-held secrets, love, corruption, and tragedy in this tale of a 100-year-old mental Irish patient, Roseanne McNulty, whose recollections of her life do not match the record.”

Sea Of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh ~~ “During China’s 19th-century Opium Wars, a crew on the Ibis–a motley cast of Indians, Americans and French–form bonds that are destined to last through generations. This is the first volume in the planned Ibis trilogy.”

Netherland by Joseph O’Neill ~~ “A Dutch banker living in London recalls his years in New York just after 9/11–and his life-altering friendship with a cricket-playing, idealistic Trinidadian entrepreneur.” Netherland won the 2009 Pen/Faulkner Award for fiction.

A Case Of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif ~~ “In 1988, Pakistani dictator Mohannad Zia ul-Haq was killed in an airplane crash. This satirical novel imagines what could have happened–from curses to conspiracies.”

Home by Marilynne Robinson ~~ “Her Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead looked at the life of John Ames; here she focuses on the family of hs best friend, the Reverend Robert Boughton. A National Book Award finalist, Home won the 2009 Orange Prize.

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith ~~ Short-listed for the Man-Booker Prize, this book won the CWA Ian Flemming Silver Dagger in 2008. “In the last days of Russia’s Stalinist era, a war hero discovers a series of brutal child murders–and sets out to challenge the state.” Don’t miss the sequel: The Secret Speech.