The Year in Books

2008 was a slow year personally for book reading.  I wound up reading 49 books this year - not too bad considering all the other things that were occupying my time:

  1. My son
  2. My son
  3. XBox 360 in general and specifically Rainbow Six: Vegas, Gears of War I and II, and currently Fable II
  4. My wife/blogging (tie)
  5. My son

My Fiction Book of the Year for 2008 was hands-down Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (reviewed here).  From a literary and emotional standpoint it knocked me flat on my feet.  Plus it has the benefit (I think, anyway) of being recommendable to anyone interested in a good book - Gilead is one of those rare instances where the story and the language transcend genre.

There were two runner-ups for fiction, and to my surprise they were both fantasy novels - a genre I hadn't paid a lot of attention to for a number of years.  Both The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (reviewed here) and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (reviewed here) combined a masterly love of language, humor, and beautiful imagery to tell wonderful stories that stayed embedded in my head for days and weeks afterward.

Of all the books I reviewed this year, my Nonfiction Book of the Year for 2008 was the first book I read in 2008 and coincidentally the first book I reviewed at Un:Bound.  Consider the Lobster (reviewed here) is an eclectic array of pieces by the late, great, David Foster Wallace, who tragically took his life back in September.  Wallace was and still is one of my literary heroes, and his death hit me like a ton of bricks.  I wrote about his suicide over at Geek Monkey, and to this day I still think about his essays and stories whenever I begin to write anything of length or consequence.

Although I didn't review it for any blogs, I wanted to also give a special mention to American Movie Critics: An Anthology from the Silents Until Now.  It's a fantastic overview of how the art of film criticism has evolved from the silent era to the Internet era, and is full of incredible essays and reviews from people as diverse as Carl Sandburg, Pauline Kael, Roger Ebert and Nathan Lee.  As I start up my film blog I've been using this book as my bible for how I want to structure and express my thoughts on film.  But it's much more than textbook examples of how to write about film - it's also a collection of superb writing from any standpoint.

That's it for 2008.  2009, here we come!