Sunday, November 30, 2008

Favourite Reads of 2008 - A Dewey's Picks

Watch this space over the next few days for lots of this year's top ten reading lists from Deweys, librarians and library wholesalers - we hope to give you lots of gift-giving ideas (don't forget to treat yourself as well!) and add to your must-read piles.

Book reps have no sense of real time as far as publishing goes - we're always reading and selling far into the future. So if I were to consult my reading journal and pick the top ten books I actually read this year, there would at least be four that haven't yet been published (now, isn't that a tease - but boy, is there a great literary spring to look forward to, and yes, we'll blog all sorts of previews in January). So, instead I've picked ten novels that were all published (at least for the first time in English) in 2008. It's been a great year for fiction and it was very hard to narrow the list down, but what makes each of these books stand out for me is the author's unwavering attention to crafting an engaging, compelling and original story that still resonates in my memory. Add beautiful writing, humour, unforgettable characters and an imaginative ticket to a world or historical period that I hadn't travelled to before, and it all adds up to a terrific read. So here are my picks (in alphabetical order by author):

The Reserve by Russell Banks
The Rain Before it Falls by Jonathan Coe
Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner, translated by Lazer Lederhendler
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher
The Open Door by Elizabeth Maguire
A Mercy by Toni Morrison
The Homecoming by Bernhard Schlink
Unforgiving Years by Victor Serge, translated by Richard Greeman
The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews

with an honourable mention to Between Each Breath by Adam Thorpe

My three favourite non-fiction books all happened to fall into the autobiography/biography category this year (more great storytelling!). If you have a biography junkie on your list, I'd highly recommend these:
In Spite of Myself by Christopher Plummer
The Journal of Hélène Berr, translated by David Bellos

with an honourable mention to Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes

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