Saturday, December 13, 2008

Why these are the best books of 2008

Of course they're not. Not these books. Not really. On about a million levels. Cos I've not read every book that came out in 2008. I believe that new Geri Halliwell book for little kiddies is very good, for instance. And, who am I be to choosing the *best* books of 2008?

Who made me *The Boss of Books* all of a sudden?

Who? NO ONE, THAT'S WHO. But in my own little world, I am. So nerrr.

The other thing is - who reads just books from the current year? Other than book reviewers. So my little samizdat version of a Best of/Top Ten List has books in it that might be a couple of years old. But they're mainly quite new. But heck, this is purely for my own amusement (probably literally as well as figuratively).

But so what? So there. So here it is. So pppppt to you, matey.

I'm writing a big lot of lists and I don't care who's interested or who isn't.

Unless there's a lovely bespectacled librarian walking past - in which case - Whit wooooo - here, darling, look at the size of my big bookshelf. Look at the hardbacks on that, eh? Fancy a quick bit of Hornby, do ya? I'll give you a good Burroughs...

Etc. Because we know, from the previous post, books make you sexy and cool

So here they are, here it is ... without further a doo-doo -

The Top 10 Books of 2008***
*** note, this list is purely for my own entertainment
  1. What is the What by Dave Eggers & Valentino Achak Deng - Dave Eggers says he tried to write a biography of a boy soldier/refugee from Sudan, but he couldn't get his head round it. So he just started making it up a bit, to make it seem more realistic. And it does. The true life story of Valentino Achak Deng gets you right inside his head. Normally Dave Eggers is a bit show-offy and overbearing, but here it's all about Valentino. It'll make you laugh, it'll make you cry lots and lots. Book of my year. Hurrah.
  2. Motherless Brooklyn Jonathan Lethem - Lots of Lethem's books are amazing, but a few are a bit merrrr... I also loved You Don't Love Me Yet, but when I lent it to someone else she thought that it was merrr at best. Motherless Brooklyn is one that everyone should like. A big fat book for the whole family. If a bit blokey. It's a *romp*. A limo driver with Tourette's syndrome works for a dodgy dealer in Brooklyn. Orphans, Buddhists, shouting your thoughts out loud & love. It's a bit of a detective story as well, which I managed to like despite my previous bloggage about hating detective stories. Whoops.
  3. What was Lost Catherine O'Flynn - Probably the best young writer in Britain. This will be made into a film in about 6 months. I'm sure. A little girl pretends to be a detective in a Birmingham shopping mall. She watches people and searches for criminals. Then she disappears. 10 years later a woman working in a record shop & a security guard have some odd experiences in the shopping mall. I wouldn't call it a ghost story, but I would call it very good.
  4. The Book Thief Markus Zusak - Ok, yeh, so it's another one of these *The Holocaust - for Kids* books, like The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas but the story is a bit more complicated than that. It's a little bit fairy tale-ish, it's about a lad growing up and not fully understanding what's going on in Germany as the Nazis take power and yeah, it's a bundle of laughs, but it's almost too well written. It always feels well written, maybe it's too much like a fable, too poetic. That creates a bit of a distance at times - for me - but it's still beautifully done. Wanted to hate it, but couldn't help myself from staying up late to try and finish it. And then I was sad cos it had ended. Emotionally affecting. It will probably make you cry if you are a crying sort of person.
  5. The Uncommon Reader Alan Bennett - "Once I start a book I finish it. That was the way one was brought up. Books, bread and butter, mashed potato - one finishes what's on one's plate. That's always been my philosophy." So says the fictional version of our dear, beloved Queen in this light, silly, daft little book. See previous blog for slightly more details. I started it expecting it to be silly, daft and pointless. It is, but it's still brilliant.
  6. The Year of Yes: The Story of a Girl, a Few Hundred Dates, and Fate Maria Headley - How did I end up reading this? It must have been the snappy title. She says yes to everyone that asks her out. A bit like that guy who ate Super-sized food whenever he was asked. She went on a date with everyone who asked. The postman. A tramp. I forget who else, but there were a lot. Entertaining and intriguing - and as utterly pointless as most of these sort of books, but I think we all came out at the end of it having learnt something. Can't remember what it was though.
  7. Netherland Joseph O'Neill - Possibly should have won the Booker Prize (not having read many of the others on the list it's hard to comment). It's very languid, it's not very plotty, it's slightly emotionally stunted - well the narrator is trying to recover from the break-up of his marriage by working and playing cricket in New York. I know! A laughter riot! But again, it's very well written. I almost didn't like it while I was reading it, but couldn't stop reading it. That's weird.
  8. Two Caravans Marina Lewycka - Didn't enjoy her first book, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian as wonderful as most other people did. I thought it was a bit too *Carry On* comedy full of wacky foreigners, but Two Caravans surprised me & forced me to read to the end - with the great Sheffield scene. A story about migrant workers coming to Britain and earning nowt and getting abused from all directions. Makes you laugh & makes you think, which is always a good combo, I think.
  9. No Second Chance Harlan Coban - I've already done some commenting on this book here. In some ways it's my absolute best book of the year - when it comes to entertainment value. A guilty pleasure that I'm not even guilty about. I salute you, Mr Coban with your big golden typewriter, as you sit in your big house made of diamonds. Well done, sir. I do wonder if all your books are kinda exactly the same, but taken one at a time, in their detectivey context - wonderful.
  10. That's Me in the Corner Andrew Collins - Mr Collins, or Saint Andrew, as he is known in these parts was the blogging inspiration for me to start writing this bit of bloggage. I have really just copied everything off him. Except he's quicker and obviously very successful in his life. Whereas I am very slow and - no hang on - I've got to be *P O S I T I V E* all the time - whereas as I am maybe lying in the gutter but I am looking up at the stars. In this book, Andrew, in his music journalist guise, gets to hang out with lots of stars. It's my personal favourite out of the three volumes of his autobiography. (In volume two, Andrew seems to be having too much of a good time. I found that very hard to relate to. Being a teenager and being happy? Merrr. Besides, happiness writes white. O the joy of having a crappy life - it gives you something to write about!)


  1. Good list, I agree with the last two but am blank on the others. You can be the boss of books.

    Where are the sandwiches?

  2. Best Butties 2008. I'm not sure. I think it might have been a bit of a big year for couscous in a tupperware box. I have decided on my cheese of the year though.

    Has to be very mature chedder. I've tried various more exotic varieties but OAP chedder does it for me. Controversial comment I know, but I don't care what anyone says. You can keep your bloomin brie!!!
    Although that is nice. More of a summer cheese though.