Best Books of 2008

I’m disappointed by the number of books I read last year. I have to remember it doesn’t include short stories, articles and the large sections of books I’ve read to my father (speaking of which, I think Pride and Prejudice should be on here – I’m fairly sure we read the whole thing, if not in order). But most of them were very good, so this is a close-run thing.

Today I choose:

Fiction: The Orphan Tales – Valente

Non-Fiction: My Family and other Animals – Durrell

Graphic: Tales from Outer Suburbia – Shaun Tan


  1. Bellwether – Connie Willis.
  2. Vanishing Acts – Jodi Picoult. Least integrated supernatural elements.
  3. The Rum Diary – Hunter S. Thompson. Most accurate representation of journalistic rum intake.
  4. The Sunday Philosophy Club – Alexander McCall Smith.
  5. The Princess Diaries – Meg Cabot.
  6. The Morning Gift – Eva Ibbotson.
  7. They’re a Wierd Mob – Nino Culotta.
  8. The Orphan Tales: In the Night Garden – Catherynne Valente. Most stories in one & best-deserved win.
  9. The Fourth Bear – Jasper Fforde.
  10. The Pinhoe Egg – Diana Wynne Jones.
  11. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon. Most informative fiction.
  12. Labyrinths – Borges.
  13. The Game – Diana Wynne Jones.
  14. The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice – Valente. See #8.
  15. Little Brother – Cory Doctorow. Most blistering read.
  16. The Yiddish Policeman’s Union – Michael Chabon.
  17. Redeeming Love – Francine Rivers. Most like Da Vinci Code.
  18. Murder Must Advertise – Dorothy Sayers. Longest passage about a cricket match.
  19. Dealing with Dragons – Patricia C Wrede.
  20. Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen – Joanne K. Rowling. Only book I’ve read again for the first time.
  21. The Ladies of Grace Adieu – Susannah Clarke. Most enchanting.
  22. The House of Many Ways – Dianne Wynne Jones.
  23. The Explosionist – Jenny Davidson. Most responsible for me spending more money on books.
  24. The Grand Sophy – Georgette Heyer.
  25. Holes – Louis Sachar.
  26. Sylvester, or The Wicked Uncle – Georgette Heyer.
  27. Lady of Quality – Georgette Heyer. Most surprisingly likeable heroine.
  28. Faro’s Daughter – Georgette Heyer.
  29. April Lady – Georgette Heyer.
  30. Angel Rising – Dirk Flinthart.
  31. Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #37.
  32. The Grinding House – Kaaron Warren. Most lingerling disturbing.
  33. Magic for Beginners – Kelly Link. Easiest to get lost in.
  34. Canterbury 2100 – Flinthart (ed).
  35. The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman.
  36. Size Twelve is not Fat – Meg Cabot.
  37. Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson. Most exercising my comparative faculties.


  1. The Fantasy Artist’s Reference File – Peter Evans. Funniest book this year.
  2. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat – Oliver Sacks.
  3. Sociolinguistics – Peter Trudgill. Most conversation starters (did you know…)
  4. The Puffin Book of Nursery Rhymes – Iona and Peter Opie.
  5. History of the Kings of England (Historia Regum Britanniae)- Geoffrey of Monmouth.
  6. My Family and other Animals – Gerald Durrell. Most copies bought to give other people (6? I think?)
  7. Unbeaten Tracks in Japan – Isabella Bird. Best example of how to write a fantasy epic (without the fantasy)
  8. Bachelor Girls – Betty Israel.


  1. Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi. Most compelling.
  2. March of the Wooden Soldiers (Fables Vol. 4).
  3. Return to Labyrinth, vol. 1. Most disappointing.
  4. The Mean Seasons: Fables Vol. 5 – Willingham et. al.
  5. Batman – A Death in the Family .
  6. Assorted short comics acquired at Supanova
  7. Homelands: Fables Volume 6 – Willingham, et al.
  8. Batman: Black and White – Miller, Gaiman, Lee, Kubert et al. Best presentation of uses of the medium.
  9. Arabian Nights (and Days): Fables Volume 7 – Willingham, et al.
  10. Batman: Black and White volume 2 – Dini, Ellis, Claremont, Azzarello et al.
  11. Tales from Outer Suburbia – Shaun Tan. The only one to make me cry on the bus (I think).
  12. Fables volume 8: Wolves – Willingham et. al. (graphic novel).
  13. Hellblazer: Joyride (graphic novel). Best to read near strangers on planes (heheh).
  14. Rapunzel’s Revenge – Hale, Hale and Hale. Best hair.
  15. Fables 9: Sons of Empire – Willingham et al.

All books are reviewed somewhere on this blog by the relevant month:

9 thoughts on “Best Books of 2008

  1. This is a truly wonderful list. I wish the experience of having read a book could be transferred via telepathy so I could have read all these too, and not run out of time to do so. Having said that, I have read 19 of them.

    Wow. I read 19 books last year. At least. I had no idea. I think I will keep a record this year! Only thing is, do I date it from the start of the Christmas holidays, or from actual January? :)

  2. I am quite glad to get back to reading your blog, and this award list is one of the reasons why: you always tell me about the most interesting books.

    Good seeing you at Aurealis (and nice to meet Aimee too).

  3. Aimee – do keep a record, and start the year whenever you like. The record can be surprisingly helpful when, for e.g., you forget reading Emma.

    Renaye – thanks for the comment and good luck with the reading this year.

    JanetD – thanks for coming back :) Great seeing you and thanks for taking the photo!

  4. I saw where Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book won the Newbery Award for 2009!

    Your reading list is quite inspiring. I came nowhere close to that many books last year, although I DID read over 4,000 pages. Oddly, that was comprised of six books.

  5. Yes! Some very exciting awards going at the moment.

    Your achievement is in itself quite impressive. Oh, and the Ryle arrived – thankyou so much! I keep meaning to write and say thankyou and get distracted reading it :)

  6. A great year of reading! I love that you have bought half a dozen copies of My family and other animals because it really is one of the best family or comedy or animal books and needs to be kept in print :)

  7. :) But I really should have kept track of people to whom I gave it, because it was getting a bit complicated trying not to give it to the same person twice!

  8. Pingback: The interview continues - courtesy Jason Fischer « Errantry

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