When I think back to all the wonderful books I read in ’08, it’s not an easy job to pick the one I loved most. Even now, as I paste in the link for The Art of Racing in The Rain , I ache a little that there is only room at the top for one Book of the Year.
Other books this year moved me, challenged me, entertained me, inspired me, but this was the one that still lingers, months after I’ve read it. I believe this is true for a couple of reasons.
1. The author had an amazingly fresh approach – this book is told from a dog’s point of view – not a yellow Lab actually, but that’s what you see on the cover. That’s what you see when the book is resting closed on your nightstand, waiting for you to return to it. And this particular dog is all that you’d expect from a breed as wise and loyal as Labradors. Enzo is genteel and smart – he’s intuitive, he’s loyal, he’s fallable. And he’s the one narrating the story of the humans who give his life meaning and definition. It’s an amazing concept.
2. I have a yellow Lab.
3. I love yellow Labs.
I know dogs can’t talk, they can’t narrate stories, and they can’t tell Dad that Timmy has fallen into the well. And I also don’t believe in reincarnation, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love this book. It was masterfully written.
And when I mentally list the books that I read in 2008, this is the one that comes to mind first. That tells you something.
There were many others titles vying for second place on my list of most intriguing reads for 2008. Broken Angel by my good friend Sigmund Brouwer was powerfully written. Publishers Weekly called this work of speculative fiction “addictively readable” and I agree, even though a book set in a dystopic future is not a light read. Likewise, Those Who Save Us made me weep and writhe. Any book set in Nazi Germany usually does that to me. It’s hard for me to recommend it because of the subject matter, but it was a moving book that left an indelible impression on me.
I also enjoyed A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell and Whispers of the Bayou by Mindy Starns Clark – expertly-researched books by two wonderful friends. Lastly, My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay, her debut novel by the way, was a terrific read.
I should also mention that in 2008 I read Twilight and The Shack. The first kept me spellbound – it was a veritable page-turner. Anytime you take a old, scary legend like that of the vampire and twist it into something new and untried and romantic, there is delicious tension. I’m not saying it’s Pulitzer material, it’s simply a good page turner. Gotta admire that about it. If you look at Twilight too closely you will see that The Safe Girl loves the Dangerous Boy for one, sole over-arching reason: he’s beautiful. Not the deepest of reasons for loving someone.
The second, The Shack, wasn’t a page-turner for me. It was interesting read, an intriguing read, but with all the hype surrounding it, my expectations were arguably very high. Too high. I was underwhelmed. There were some tasty nuggets there but its notoriety primed me for a theological feast and I left the table rather unsatisfied.
What were your top reads for 2008? I’d love to hear what kept you turning pages this year.
On Friday, I will share what tops my To Be Read stack for 2009