The best, most riveting story of this year may not have been between the covers of a book at all. Reality was a big contender for the high-drama, rich-narrative prize in 2008.
And yet, the books kept coming — and charming, and diverting, and illuminating.
“Black Flies.” “Beautiful Children.” “Stray Dog Winter,” “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” “Netherland.”
Dexter Filkins sent front-line dispatches on “the forever war.” A deaf mute named Edgar Sawtelle got the critics and Oprah singing praises. Jhumpa Lahiri was back. Toni Morrison found “Mercy.”
We’ve called in some great readers for their picks of the great reads of 2008. And we’d like to hear yours.
This hour, On Point: One big whack at the best books of 2008.
You can join the conversation. What book kept you reading late into the night this year? What got the rave reviews in your book club? Which books are you wrapping up for holiday presents?
Joining us from New York is Liesl Schillinger, a regular contributor to The New York Times Book Review and a columnist for the Times’ Style section. She also writes for New York magazine, Slate, and O magazine.
Joining us from St. Louis is Kris Kleindienst, co-owner of Left Bank Books, an independent bookstore. A fixture in St. Louis since 1969, the enterprise is expanding with a second location opening tomorrow.
And from Santa Monica, Calif., we’re joined by Mark Sarvas, host of the literary blog The Elegant Variation. His book reviews have appeared in the Los Angeles Review, The New York Times, The Denver Post, and elsewhere. His debut novel, out this year, is “Harry Revised.”
The New York Times has posted its picks for the Ten Best Books of 2008, along with its 100 Notable Books of the year. Meanwhile, its Paper Cuts blog surveys some of the other notable lists around the web.
The Washington Post offers a gallery of its Ten Best Books of the Year.
And here are our guests’ lists of favorite and noteworthy books of 2008…
- American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld
- The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski
- American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, by Jon Meacham (hear the On Point interview)
- The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed
- The Wordy Shipmates, by Sarah Vowell
- The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein
- The Hour I First Believed, by Wally Lamb
- The Oxford Project, by Peter Feldstein and Stephen Bloom
- Annie Leibovitz at Work, by Annie Leibovitz (hear the On Point interview)
- Books: a Memoir, by Larry McMurtry
- Netherland, by Joseph O’Neill
- Nobility of Spirit: A Forgotten Ideal, by Rob Riemen
- Reappraisals, by Tony Judt
- How Beautiful It Is And How Easily It Can Be Broken, by Daniel Mendelsohn
- The Journal of Jules Renard, by Jules Renard
- Paris Review Interviews, Volume III, edited by Philip Gourevitch
- Immovable Feast: A Paris Christmas, by John Baxter
- Stray Dog Winter, by David Francis
- State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America, by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey
- The Complete Robuchon, by Joel Robuchon
Novels and short stories:
- Black Flies, by Shannon Burke
- The Sacred Book of the Werewolf, by Victor Pelevin
- Family Planning, by Karan Mahajan
- Beautiful Children, by Charles Bock (hear the On Point interview)
- Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri
- Our Story Begins, by Tobias Wolff
- Playing with the Grown-ups, by Sophie Dahl
- The Grift, by Debra Ginsberg