Sunday, January 04, 2009

Best of 2008: books & authors

Every year I try to discover a new author whose books I've never read - hopefully finding one that I'll want to read everything they've ever written or will have written. I don't always find such a writer - but this year I actually found two: Neil Gaiman & Brandon Sanderson.

I read Brandon Sanderson's Elantris because he was chosen to complete the Wheel of Time series after Robert Jordan's passing. If this guy is to be entrusted with that - I want to see what he's done. Elantris was one of the most imaginative pieces of fantasy literature I've read in a long time. Truly amazing in my option. I just started his Mistborn triology and though only a short ways in am still impressed with his story telling, and look forward to reading both the final WOT book and anything else Mr. Sanderson writes.

Neil Gaiman is a truly gifted writer. I read American Gods first. It took me a little bit to get into it, but that was because of my busyness in life at that time and lack of focus then anything with the story. It was a great story though. The next two I read from, Anansi Boys & The Graveyard Book blew me away and I want to read everything this guy has written now. Great, great author!

Specific books. I read a ton of fiction this year - I think probably because of everything going on in my life I didn't want to have a heavy academic diet this year. Read a lot of books that were part of series: The Alvin Miller series by O.S. Card (first 3 amazing, last 3 kinda blah), The Twighlight series by Stephanie Meyer (loved it), Brisinger by Christoper Paolini (superb), and then other single books here or there were also continuations of series (Ender in Exhile was a surprise both in that it came out and that it was fantastic).

I didn't read many books that I didn't care for. On the Road by Jack Kerouac wasn't a bad book - it just wasn't as good as I was hoping. Decent, but I guess I'm just not beat enough for it. The only bad book I read this year was The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson. OK idea - but just a DUMB book. I was really disappointed.

In addition to the series books I mentioned above, most of which were great reads, some other great books from my 2008 list which stood out are: Duma Key by Stephen King (outside of the Dark Tower books, one of this best this decade), UnChristian by David Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons (if you claim to be a Christian you must read this book), Adam by Ted Dekker (one of his better books in awhile I think. More depth to the characters), and I am Legend by Richard Matheson.

But, after 48 books over 365 days, here are my top 5 of the year:

#5 - Your Heart Belongs To Me, by Dean Koontz

I've been somewhat disappointed by Koontz last few books, but this one hit me to the core. It was actually convicting in different ways. He broke from his normal formula/outline for this one and the story hits to the heart.

#4 - Byzantium by Stephen Lawhead

Recommended this book my Josh Weaver & Alex McNeil - the boys didn't do me wrong. This book had everything: adventure, spirituality, redemption, fighting - total guy book. I resonated with the main character's spiritual plight - and was encouraged by how it ended.

#3 - The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

One of my "I've give it a try" books this year was one of my favorite. The two themes in this book that really hit me in the heart were 1) how the ripples of one decision can go into not only the rest of our life but the lives of those most important to us, and 2) how secrets can ruin a family. A tad slow to get going - I thought it was an amazing story.

#2 - Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

I purposely waited to read this book - didn't want to jump on the band wagon. But, I needed to read this book when I did. I appreciated at an incredible depth this guy's journey and his insights and his ideas. I'm going to blog more in the next couple days about this book, so I won't get into things here - only will say this: I want to fall in love with Jesus again.

#1 - Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

I wrote in my review of this book that it is unfortunate that most people won't read it because of its size. What a story, what a depth, what a history, what a book! It is one of the best novels I've ever read!

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