TSS: Top five books I read this year and looking ahead

Without any adieu, here are the top five books (out of 70) I read this year, in descending order:

  • gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson: I just read this one this past week, and I was more than pleasantly surprised. It reminded me of Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes, for some reason, and that’s not a bad thing. I hope to get to a review here sometime this week.
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry: For some reason, my wife thought this would be a book that I wouldn’t like. I loved it.
  • Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog by Boris Akunin: I saw the second one of this mystery series at our local library, but they didn’t have the first one, for some reason, so they ordered it. I’m glad they did. While the second one didn’t live up to my expectations, the first one was definitely a very good start, plus it introduced me to a Russian author of whom I had never heard.
  • Left To Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza with Steve Erwin: For months a woman at our church said this was a book I had to read. I told her I was interested in borrowing it from her. Finally, after months and months, I read it– and I was overwhelmed. A must read for Christians and those of every faith or no faith because of the power of forgiveness exhibited within.
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie: This one was far and away my favorite book of the year. I’ve gushed over this so many times and it still is my most popular review right next to The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. Just read the Alexie book already. You won’t be disappointed.


Earlier this week, I went to the library and as usual, I went a little crazy, meaning that I’ll never finish all these books in three weeks. Somehow I felt like I was in the mood for biographies:

  • Crossing Over: One Woman’s Escape from Amish Life by Ruth Irene Garrant with Rick Farrant: My wife’s already read and said it was very good.
  • American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, The Woman Who Defied the Puritans by Eve LaPlante
  • Lost Honor: The Rest of the Story by John Dean: I had read his Blind Ambition years ago, and it was one of those biographies that stand out in my mind for some reason, so I thought why not give this one a try.
  • Down From Troy: A Doctor Comes of Age by Richard Selzer: I have previously read Taking the World in for Repairs and Mortal Lessons: Notes from the Art of Surgery and was wondering if our library had any other books by him. This was the only one they had. For some reason, and I’m not quite sure why, since I’m not really into reality hospital shows or the like, but Selzer, a retired professor of surgery at Yale Medical School, has a way of dissecting not only the human anatomy, but also the human condition in a…well…humane way.
  • The Cry for Myth by Rollo May: I remember reading Man’s Search for Meaning by him years ago and being extremely impressed, so again I thought why not give him another try.
  • Mars by Ben Bova: I saw the third in his series on the new bookshelf and since I’m usually a stickler for reading series in order, I wanted to see if unlike the Sister Pelagia series, the library actually had the earlier books in this series. Lo and behold, they did. At 502 pages, this is the one I’m least likely to finish before three weeks are up. I remember Bova from high school. He was a popular writer with one of my friends.
  • The Green Revolution: A Mystery Set At The University of Notre Dame by Ralph McInerny: I say I’m usually a stickler for reading series in order. However, when I learned that this book was out of order, I began reading it anyway. It’s a mystery set around the real-life downfall of the Notre Dame football team. I wanted to read the Father Dowling mysteries also by McInnerny, in order, but alas, our library didn’t have the first in the series. Somehow I doubt they have the first in this series either, so I might just have to settle for reading this series out of order.


Another book for which I might look in the near future, based on the recommendation of a friend, is Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, the Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind by Bruce Watson. I’ve always heard of the notorious case, but really know nothing about it or why it was so notorious.

11 responses to “TSS: Top five books I read this year and looking ahead

  1. I’ve got Left to Tell on my TBR list this year. I’ve heard only good things about it. Happy New Year!

  2. Pingback: Across the Page » TBR in 2009: A nonbinding resolution

  3. You have several intriguing titles here. I’m going to put ‘Left to Tell’ on my list.

    (I loved ‘The Giver’ too!)

  4. Akunin’s book is sitting here in my TBR collection thanks to your review of it. 🙂 I am really looking forward to reading that one. And I agree, the Outsiders is well worth reading.

    I hope you have a Happy New Year!

  5. The Giver is one of my all time faves. I read gods in Alabama a couple of years ago for book club and we all really enjoyed it.

    I also have a stack of library books that I’m not quite sure will get read completely by the due date.

    Happy reading in 2009!

  6. I get too greedy in book shops and the library!
    Have you read enough crime fiction this year to take part in my Best Reads for 2008 activity?
    It is at http://paradise-mysteries.blogspot.com/2008/12/your-best-crime-fiction-reads-in-2008.html

    All the best for 2009.

  7. It looks like it was a good year of reading and a good day at the library! Happy reading!

  8. Newbie to Sunday Salon. I read ‘The Giver’ this year and found it to be quite interesting. Thought provoking. Especially for a young adult book. I used to read sci fi books all the time when I was younger and have gotten away from them. However, Mars looks pretty good. Will have to put it on my wishlist.

    Happy New year!

  9. I’ve never read any of the books on your list – I have read American Gods (as shown in your sidebar), and thought it was an excellent book.


  10. I read gods in Alabama a couple of years ago, and was also surprised by how much I like it. I find that a lot of Southern fiction is self-consciously quirky, but this wasn’t. I have another of Jackson’s books in TBR Purgatory, and once her most recent novel comes out in paperback, it will join the shelves too.

  11. Great list! I have yet to read the Alexie book, but it won’t be long now. It’s a book I might be interested in teaching to my college students in our children’s/adolescent survey.

    Crossing Over sounds fantastic!