As ever, these are books I read in 2008, not necessarily or usually books published in 2008. The selection process wasn’t terribly rigorous; I just quickly picked out titles I particularly remember enjoying. I blogged about most of the books I read this year, so rather than go over them again, I’ve provided links to those posts. In the order I read them, these are my picks for the year:
- The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
- Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
- Stalin: Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore
- The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters
- Occupational Hazards by Rory Stewart
- Independent People by Halldór Laxness
- Rivers of Babylon by Peter Pišťanek
- Dry Store Room No. 1 by Richard Fortey
- The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years by Chingiz Aitmatov
- How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by Saša Stanišić
- The Unknown Matisse by Hilary Spurling
Looking at that list, I’ve had a particularly good year for fiction this year, partially because of the Read The World challenge; the Aitmatov stands out as an example of a book I thought was really good and which it’s very unlikely I would have read if I hadn’t been looking for a title from Kyrgyzstan.
The Mitford letters might be the pick of the non-fiction; I knew they’d probably be worth reading, because they were an extraordinary bunch and several of them wrote well, but I wasn’t expecting to enjoy them as much as I did. Like a sparkling, witty and very posh version of Heat magazine, only with Hitler and Evelyn Waugh instead of Amy Winehouse.