2008 Reading List

2008 BOOK LIST
European Literature
Muriel Barbery The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Marjane Satrapi The Complete Persepolis
Mary Ann Shaffer The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Leonie Swann Three Bags Full
Sheridan Hay Secret of Lost things
North American mystery writers
Karen Maitland Company of Liars
Thomas Perry Silence
Archer Mayor The Catch
John Connolly The Reapers
Kathy Reichs Devil Bones
Michael Koryta Envy the Night

(MN authors)
John Sanford Virgil Flowers
Larry Millet Sherlock Holmes
Vince Flynn Extreme Measures

British mysteries
Elizabeth Ironsides A Good Death
PD James A Private Patient
Susan Hill Man in the Picture
Ian Rankin Exit Music
Dick Francis
Alexander McCall Smith The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday
The Incredible lightness of Scones
Martha Grimes Dakota
Stephanie Barons The Barque of Fraility
Michael Cox The Meaning of night
Lauren Groff Monsters of Templeton (no)
Classic romance
Joanne Harris – Girl no Shadow (Chocolat)
Dorothy Sayers Gaudy Night

Notable fiction
AL Kennedy Day
Sara Donati Queen of Swords
Tana French In the Wood, the Likeness
Kate Morton House of Riverton

Notable nonfiction
Jeffrey Toobin The Nine
Clive James, Cultural Amnesia
Thomas Friedman Hot, Flat and Crowded
Simon Worrall (2003) The Poet and the Murderer (Emily Dickinson)
Michael Pollan In Defense of Food
Randy Pausch The Last Lecture
Mark Kulansky Salt: world history
Larry Millet Strange Days DangerousNights
William Least Heat-Moon Roads to Quoz
Joshua Kendall The Man who made lists
Paul Collins Sixpence house
Eds. Adventures in Smithsonian Libraries
1001 Foods (so so)
Don George (ed) The kindness of strangers
Bill Bryson Shakespeare (2007)
Steven Johnson The Ghost Map (cholera)

Series novels
Charles Todd (Insp Rutledge) A Pale Horse
Ruth Downe, Medicus, Terra Incognita
Kate Ross, The Devil in Music
Susan Hill (Simon Serrailler)
John Harvey (Frank Elder: Flesh and Blood; Ash and bone. Charlie Resnick: Lonely Hearts; Rough Treatment

Laughing out loud novels
Michael Palin the Python years
Douglas Adams

Favourites by women authors
Kate Atkinson, will there be good news?
Andrea Barrett The air we breath
Geraldine Brooks People of the Book
Diane Setterfield the 13th Tale
Elizabeth Kostova The Historian
Jennifer Lee Carrell Interred with thr Bones
Harriet Doerr Stones for Ibarra
Stef Penney Tenderness of Wolves
Armchair Traveler
Tony Horowitz A Long Strange Voyage
Simon Winchester Man who loved China
John McPhee Uncommon Carriers
Edward Hoagland On Nature: essays
Andrew Greig Kingdom of Experience
Short Stories
Patricia Hampl, The Florists’ Daughter
Marianne Wiggens – the shadow catcher/ Evidence of things unseen
Essays
Michael Dirda, Readings, Bound to Read Classics, anything
Children’s books
Terry Pratchett, Nation
Walter Moers, The City of Dreaming Books
Naomi Novik Victory of Eagles(series)
Berkeley Breathed Pete and Pickles
Gregory Maguire What the Dickens?
Mark Reibstein Wabi Sabi
Science Fiction
Dave Duncan The Alchemist’s Code (series)
Greg Maquire Lion among Men(WickedIII)
Unknown Category!
Craig Fergusson –Between the bridge and the river. (2006)
2008 BOOK LIST-Comments
European Literature
Muriel Barbery The Elegance of the Hedgehog
I was absolutely captivated by this book. Bring kleenex, but enjoy every moment of Paris, the French, the writing, the emotions. I do have several Parisian friends who don’t especially like it (not ‘true’)
Marjane Satrapi The Complete Persepolis
This was quite an educational book(graphic novel) this year, and then I got the dvd. Both should be required reading/ viewing. Persian history, immediate history/story of a precocious 10 year old, teenager, adult – the lasting effects of intolerance.
Mary Ann Shaffer The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
This was just absolutely charming to read. I liked the series of letters, with room to imagine, but also personal details. I miss letters. It captured the despair of the war, but also the hope to go on with life in Britain. “An epistolary novel about people in love with books” “love between a Nazi soldier and an English nurse; between a scribe and an orphan; between a spunky woman and a humble man”.
Leonie Swann Three Bags Full
I am still laughing, 3 months later. Detective Sheep! German translated into Irish (Anthea Bell). The ‘wrong kind of grass’ ;-0 the busybody (miss maple-cleverest of the sheep, perhaps in the whole world; Othello a black Hebridean 4 horned ram with a mysterious past; Gabriel – a very odd sheep; cloud – the wooliest sheep) and intriguing new writing. ‘Genuinely odd” “best (or only?) sheep detective novel you will read all year” Irish village of Glennkill, Shepherd George murdered with a spade; great puns! Light.
Sheridan Hay Secret of Lost Things
An absolute MUST for anyone who loves books. New Zealand and New York City and the mysteries of Bookstores at the turn of the century.
North American mystery writers
Karen Maitland Company of Liars
This was a surprise find and wonderful read – Plague years in Britain. Man/Woman narrator of a ragtag bunch who are trying to survive. What life does to us and what we do to ourselves.
Thomas Perry Silence Never an easy read because you don’t like what humanity is/has become/ that you are forced to see. I still miss the Jane Whitefield series, and his best are still The Butcher’s boy and Metzer’s Dog. Unforgettable.
Archer Mayor The Catch
I always love reading about Vermont, and enjoy the progression of Gunther’s life, and his staff. I often miss Vermont, and love the dose a year.
John Connolly The Reapers This man still scares me to death. Read only with the lights on – start in order of publication. His command of the language still amazes and delights me – how this Irishman got under the New England skin ….
Martha Grimes Dakota
I have so enjoyed her novels, all of her series. This one is more fragile. The young girl on her own, running. This is a second book, complete in itself- yet with character development, and a plot that continues. Very memorable donkey!
Kathy Reichs Devil Bones I wish it was less predictable. I now expect a series, so little other than the murder will be resolved. Back on with old blue eyes, same family troubles. Like the Canadians though!
Michael Koryta Envy the Night
What a surprise – first thought of Harlan Coben, but not as edge of your seat/pants. More like John Connolly, very descriptive, thoughtful, suspenseful with unpleasant reality. Liked the characters (although the male was 25!) In Rhinelander WI. Frank III. Hmmmm…First novel Tonight I said goodbye, Edgar nominated. Several more.
(MN authors)
John Sanford Virgil Flowers
At last, new blood from Sanford (Lucas is getting old and predictable!) Just like this new guy, and interesting MN communities. I can still smell the smoke from the fire in the first scene. Both books have been excellent.
Larry Millet Sherlock Holmes
Vince Flynn Extreme Measures This is normally way too macho for me, but on a quiet weekend, it rearranges Wash DC.
British mysteries
Elizabeth Ironsides A Good Death
The writing is so beautiful you want to take the Sunday snowed in next to the fireplace and read to absorb the details. Except that the life will always be a lot harder than surface appearances.
PD James A Private Patient
Dagliesh doesn’t appear for half the book – and we are impatient to continue his story, even thinking the last book surely was an end. So delight to have more character analysis/lives detailed, murder committed and tried. It still felt like Dorothy Sayers, how can there be no more? But several other new British authors (to me) will help. Especially Susan Hill.
Susan Hill Man in the Picture
I still shudder thinking about this – not quite Dorian Grey, but definitely not a pleasant experience. But a wonderful read! Novella with more punch than many novels.
Ian Rankin Exit Music
Somedays you wonder how you will live without more Rebus. Gritty Edinburgh, Scotland, life. But, there will be other characters!
Alexander McCall Smith The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday The Incredible lightness of Scones
I love Scotland in any form, but especially with the insight and humanity that he writes with. These are gentle, delightful, pleasant, happy, laugh out loud with some of the inside jokes 😉 Oh to be back.
Peter Dickinson. Some Deaths before Dying, Death of a Unicorn. PDJames liked him “learned detective mysteries” enough for me to read him. Also acclaimed writer of children’s literature.
Women’s voices/characters – the victims and the antagonists. Fascinating characters in their times – typical British detection of my youth….
Stephanie Barons The Barque of Fraility
Jane Austen in any form is delightful. Gentle reader, just enjoy.
Michael Cox The Meaning of night
Scholar of Oxford Ghost stories, Victorian Detectives. Story of Edward Glyver, booklover, scholar and murderer. Victorian London. Kills a redhaired man to see if he can – so that he can go about his real mission of killing his foe. Incredible detail, images, real life. Beautifullly crafted, and so unpleasant.
Lauren Groff Monsters of Templeton
I was so disappointed in this book – I didn’t like any of the characters…James Fennimore Cooper/
Cooperstown thinly disguised but frankly just plain weird. “Fiction is the craft of telling truth through lies” will I remember the names? Generations fathered by different people.
Classic romance
Joanne Harris – Girl no Shadow (Chocolat)
Johnny Depp comes through again. This was as interesting sequel, from the daughters point of view. Fanciful, but so accurate in french detail.
Dorothy Sayers Gaudy Night I still think this is the ultimate romance novel, mystery second. And I have read it too many times (nae).
Notable fiction
AL Kennedy Day I find her a tough read – always have, but this won the Scottish Saltire Literary award this year. It can be dense in places, both in character and in writing (where exactly are they from?) Very british voice, yet another war story, incredibly crafted though; the most literary of the lot, not the most likable.. It rips, tears, shreds, hurts, redeems, deserves awards.
So much of the book is ‘carpe diem’ – I never really recognised Day as the main character – got stuck on “Alfie”. Vasyl just plain annoying.
Sara Donati Queen of Swords
Tana French In the Wood, the Likeness
The Irish Troubles, from within the police force. Huge creep factor, we are so uncivilised. The second book, redeemed some of the first – you do care about these people, but learning how much is out of our control isn’t pleasant. Games people play, which destroy other lives. Carrie Maddox, detective is contacted because a look alike is found dead, so the previous story ( novel) continue. Edgar award for first novel, Clarian Best Fiction. Other awards.
Kate Morton House of Riverton Read this too close to seeing Atonement. More of the same, although interesting. Later book disappointing – you have read this all before and it needs serious editing.
Selden Edwards The Little Book – began writing this in 1974…as a young English teacher. Layer and refine til 2007. First and only novel. Keep the day job.
Notable nonfiction
Matthew Battles Library an Unquiet History
Libraries accumulate and preserve but also shape, inspire and obliterate knowledge – this books is a fountain of detailed, interesting information! I knew the muslims had saved so much of the information from early Europe/Greece/Rome, but not why, or that they enthusiastically strove to acquire information for over 1000 years. The book explores what books mean to us/individuals/cultures (and has some nice correlations with books we read this year – medicine, People of the Book, Smithsonian, etc). Very engaging, someone else had dog-eared it!
Jeffrey Toobin The Nine
He writes so well, informative, insightful, downright scary on the people that influence and make our laws. Not a pretty picture. I feel some of his restraint, can hear his opinions, love his historical anecdotes.
Clive James, Cultural Amnesia this will take you the better part of the year to read, because so much needs to be digested. And creates diversions and memories. Enjoy every moment!
Thomas Friedman Hot, Flat and Crowded Yeah, well, it is Friedman – every one of his should be recommended reading. But he needs editing! This was too long, very repetitious, and from my point of view, naïve – too trusting of the human race. I would like the hope that we aren’t wiping ourselves off the planet, but think it is going to take a lot more effort and more people being involved.
Simon Worrall (2003) The Poet and the Murderer (Emily Dickinson)
Forging in any century is an interesting profession. Many interesting details, the librarian who wanted to buy the ED poem, spending the towns money, and the machinations of how to buy, sell, and stay alive in the business.
Michael Pollan In Defense of Food
His other books are much better, but he is always work reading/thinking about.
Randy Pausch The Last Lecture
Wow. Make that list as a young adult, attain so many goals and then have life taken from you, and still go with grace. This is extremely powerful. I would like to see the DVD.
Mark Kulansky Salt: world history
(also wrote Cod and The Basque History of the World) really was a world history and emphasizes everyday life, over millenia! Not just relevant to ‘serious cooks or foodies’ as some would have. I of course liked the ancient salt (and why some of the salt we buy today is so expensive!).
Larry Millet Strange Days DangerousNights
A New twist on life in the Twin Cities, with photographs. Quite an era.
William Least Heat-Moon Roads to Quoz
They are shorter side trips, not one complete road trip, and they involve a companion, but his writing is still so full of the ‘little details’ that make up life.
Joshua Kendall The Man who made lists
Probably more than you ever wanted to know about Roget’s Thesaurus, and the man/child/family. But I found it utterly fascinating. Excellent detail (although I wanted more) and especially how it is being updated.
Paul Collins Sixpence house
I wrote nicer things about it than I remember. Wimp. Gives it all up to go to Wales (Hay on Wye, paradise of book lovers) but ‘can’t take it – more American than he realised!’ Anglophile and bibliophile, but only on his terms! ‘quaint; American in search of a British life that he can’t lead’. Others quoted quiet charming adventure with humerous anecdotes. I started off thinking someone really understands what it means to be a book lover. But Dirda is much better.
Eds. Adventures in Smithsonian Libraries
1001 Foods (so so)
I was expecting to find delicious foods, recipes, places to find them, instead it was by category, (fruits, veggies, desserts) and a vague description of each. Not impressive. Good photos.
Don George (ed) The kindness of strangers
Jan Morris, Simon Winchester, Dave Eggers and 25 others. Personal accounts of experiences. Fran Palumbo – Highland Remedy – delightful ‘Scotland’ her first published story “scenery mirrors my own interior landscape: grey, drizzly melancholy, yet she can’t dislike this place” Jan Morris – first essay in 1936, 40 books on history/travel, autobio and fiction. Welsh, want to read the world (2003). Absolutely elegant. Simon Winchester – exc essay on seeing green turtles lay eggs on the Ascension Islands, while hitchiking a plane ride home!
Bill Bryson Shakespeare (2007)
I wasn’t sure why he wrote this volume – slim, 195 pages of his distillation of the voluminous works on and about Shakespeare. Many by scholars, of which he doesn’t even attempt to be. So this is his opinion, an effort to make Shakespeare accessible. Supposedly a sifting of facts to get a readable, enjoyable ‘true’ account. Clearly however it is full of his opinions about ‘the facts’. To be fair there are a lot of ‘we just don’t know’, and there is the perspective of why we will never know, and also what we don’t know of others from this time period or profession. I have to say the BBC production years ago was more balanced and informed.
Steven Johnson The Ghost Map (cholera)
Great historical detail!
Series novels
Charles Todd (Insp Rutledge) A Pale Horse
I waited until I had time to start at the beginning – to read the series. A complete delight. Wonderful stories, perfect pitch in detail/location/characters and history. I couldn’t wait to read the next, the next and latched onto the new one during the holidays! WWI soldier turned detective in Scotland Yard, haunted by the killing and his imaginary ‘friend’ Hamish who comments on local events.
Ruth Downe, Medicus, Terra Incognita
Read the character list and then tell me you can’t finish this series! Roman doctor in Britain, an outsider in any culture. Wonderful gritty depiction of life then, characters now.
Kate Ross, The Devil in Music
I wept when I discovered she died of cancer at this her fourth book, with SO much left to the character.
Susan Hill (Simon Serrailler)
John Harvey (Frank Elder: Flesh and Blood; Ash and bone. Charlie Resnick: Lonely Hearts; Rough Treatment
Complex, fast paced police procedurals but also Graham Greene-stylist with details. Like the clean simple realistic prose (not Hemingway) Rough slice of English life ‘from cold grey industrial Midlands/Nottingham’ One of the most chivalrous buglers since Raffles – I really quite liked him “Polish, the lover, a catburgler in armani suits, quite surprised to look in the mirror that it wasn’t Cary Grant” The Plot is resolved, but the characters aren’t. Harvey now lives in London and is a Publisher, Slow dance Press, home to many poets on both sides of the Atlantic. You can tell in his writing.
Laughing out loud novels
Michael Palin the Python years
I cannot believe you could write down as much stuff while living life to the hilt – and then write it all up into a funny, insightful, thoughtful, provoking, factual account of 10 years!! I feel rather inadequate.
Favourites by women authors (just read these – they are ALL excellent – as well as ALL their other novels!)
Kate Atkinson, will there be good news?
Andrea Barrett The air we breath
Geraldine Brooks People of the Book
Diane Setterfield the 13th Tale
Elizabeth Kostova The Historian
Jennifer Lee Carrell Interred with their Bones
Harriet Doerr Stones for Ibarra
Stef Penney Tenderness of Wolves
Armchair Traveler
Tony Horowitz A Long Strange Voyage
This man has a way with travel words. Even about my relatives. Although I barely recovered from his Cpt Cook ‘details’! And he is married to Geraldine Brooks. Talent multiplied and respected.
Simon Winchester Man who loved China
John McPhee Uncommon Carriers
This man can write about anything – much like Garrison Keillor speaking – here it is on transportation methods across the US – trucks, barges, etc. Detailed, the nuances of each culture accessible. Some one else can take the trouble while you enjoy the experience!
Edward Hoagland On Nature: essays
I recommend ALL of his books, every essay, every word. He can put his ego in there, but the presence of nature, his experiences, the value of life on earth is captured.
Andrew Greig Kingdom of Experience
Hiking in the Himalayas so much better than Into Thin Air (later), him with the hairshirt. These are people who know what they are doing and value the experience. All of his books are excellent, much of fiction has hikers.

Short Stories
Patricia Hampl, The Florists’ Daughter
MN Memoir – incredibly well written.
Marianne Wiggens – the shadow catcher/ Evidence of things unseen
Essays
Michael Dirda, Readings, Bound to Read, Classics, anything The library has most of them, as do most bookstores (at least on the East Coast) – every essay describes my life, my love of books, the books I have read, re-read.

Children’s books
Terry Pratchett, Nation
Any year with Terry Pratchett in it is a GOOD year. This was no exception. A stand alone, non Discworld novel too. Hugely enjoyable, thought provoking, incredibly descriptive, wonderfully innovative. I hope he can enjoy all his remaining years, and write many more novels – of any kind. I was distraught with his diagnosis. Please come to Mayo.
Walter Moers, The City of Dreaming Books
One of the BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR. What a pleasure, huge imagination. German original, translation and illustrations brilliant. Once I got past the booklovers being dinosaurs (fully a chapter) imagination stretched and this was fabulous! (Much like Hugo Cabriolet last year).
Naomi Novik Victory of Eagles(series)
The fourth book, Napoleon history rewritten with dragons, and coming of age of both dragon and boy. Life is unfair, unexpected and untidy. Get used to it and make icecream. She is doing exceptionally well with this series. I truly enjoy the dragon character development.
Berkeley Breathed Pete and Pickles
I will always miss Opus, but I love his animation, his stories, his creations. His books are treasures.
Gregory Maguire What the Dickens?
What else can he do with a rogue tooth fairy!? What a pleasure to read for the laugh out loud moments – a tooth fairy who doesn’t know he is one? Tinkerbell trying to steel grandma’s false teeth, grandma having the last laugh, adults being children and children understanding adults.
Mark Reibstein Wabi Sabi (the illustrations are amazing!)
Science Fiction
Dave Duncan The Alchemist’s Code (series)
Excellent Sci Fantasy series – Nostradamus has a sidekick, who helps keeps life on an even keel, and solves murders, while also trying to keep a courtesan/ the love of his life. Intriguing, great history, interesting commentary on Venice!
Greg Maquire Lion among Men(WickedIII)
A third perspective on the original story.

Unknown Category!
Craig Fergusson Between a Bridge and a River– (2006) Heavens, a Scottish transplant, writing with brilliant vocabulary and lively expression, (and sometimes incomprehensible Glasgow idioms) made this very comic, very American (how did he get Las Vegas down quite so pat?) and raw. Not a pretty story in many respects, but having seen his Late Night show, you can hear his voice and that also makes the story.

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