Top 5 Books of 2008

Anagrams by Lorrie Moore

When I discovered Lorrie Moore on a cross-continental flight, I believed she was writing just for me: depressed, witty, and hopeful. Her debut novel is structured in a way that makes meaning flexible, a recapitulation of character. She believes that if circumstances change, we are still the same soul. We are not a collaboration of events, but the unfolding of some small, fiery truth.

The Breakdown So Far by M.A.C. Farrant
Local author M.A.C. Farrant’s collection of 70+ witty shorts – “for those of us who have lost both our way and our attention span” – are a delight. Mixing the mundane with the fantastical, she creates a cast of enduring characters who fumble through attempts to make a meaningful existence.

The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman
Full of imagination and love for the little things of life, artist Maira Kalman offers proverbs from her abundant life. The book is worth the cover price just for her photo essay, a series of pedestrians walking away. Uncertainty was one of those books that I savoured: only reading when I was relaxed and undistracted.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Road is a horrific, tender and holy book. I don’t believe I’ve read or seen a father/son relationship as convincing or beautiful as this before. Cormac McCarthy’s stark prose offers soil for hope to rise up out of the violence and oppression of this post-apocalyptic world.

The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinski

I learnt as much about Africa from Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski’s book as I did by living in Tanzania for four months. Spanning four decades of African independence wrought with violence and growing pains, Kapuscinski relays his wisdom on the world’s most diverse continent through a collection of vivid stories.

The Unlikely Runner-Up:

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
A self-help book that is actually helpful, Michael Pollen explains good eating in layman’s terms: why what we’re eating is no longer real food, and what we can do to start eating right again. Full of practical, down-to-earth information, In Defense of Food is a quick, easy read.

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5 Responses

  1. I haven’t read any of these. What’s your top recommendation?

  2. For you, probably The Shadow of the Sun, but you should also check out Cormac McCarthy someday.

  3. Kalman’s book is pretty amazing. Thank you again for sharing that one. And your review of The Shadow of the Sun really makes me want to dive right in.

  4. Anagrams or The Road? I’ve heard Moore compared to Miranda July (or rather vice versa). Do you agree?

  5. I can see why the comparisons between Moore and July have been made, but I like Moore much better. She’s a stronger writer, and she doesn’t delve into the strange sexual territory that July does.

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