The time has come, the walrus said, to choose my favourite books out of all that I read in 2008. Admittedly the year's not quite over and I may well read something to add to the list, but I'm making it now all the same. These are not necessarily the best written books, or the best constructed or the most interesting, but they are the ones that stand out when I go down the list of all I've read. They are those I enjoyed the most (with one or two exceptions, just to keep the list short). We have one nonfiction and five fiction.
Old Books, Rare Friends by Leona Rostenberg and Madeleine Stern - I made mention of it here, but I guess I never got around to writing up anything definitive about my thoughts on finishing this book. Originally I had planned to choose the best book overall of the year, and this one did spring to mind, but then I decided there were too many good books to just pick one. I loved it, because it smelled of books and history and other lovely things, and I had to force myself to read it slowly.
Fiction (in backwards chronological order)
Grendel by John Gardner - This was read for my Senior Lit class, and I hear a lot of the people who read it for this class have hated it, but I loved it. It sounded of Beowulf, it rolled like Beowulf, it was cold and ugly and sometimes beautiful, and it made me think. At some point I'll write up a full post about it.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson - I know it's been said, but this book is lovely. I posted about it here.
Storming Heaven by Denise Giardina - This was also read for Senior Lit, and was one of those books that I never would have read otherwise. It's historical fiction, but not just in the sense that it's set in a historical time period--it is also based on very particular historical events. I loved it for the balance between the fictional characters' stories and the real events, and there is a post about it here.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer - I suspect this is cropping up in lots of "Best of" lists, but at least it really is deserving. I made a not terribly coherent post about it here, but it combined many of my favourite things--letters, books, history, quirky goings-on, and romance--to be very nearly perfect.
The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice - I read this before I started blogging, so my initial thoughts about it are not preserved, but I loved it entirely. It looks from the cover rather unfortunately like chick lit, and in some ways it is, but I know there are men out there who would enjoy it. It is not, at least, as frilly as chick lit usually is. It is set in England in the 1950s, just as Elvis Presley is beginning to make his mark on the world, and includes the usual crumbling old mansion, all sorts of lovely characters, and a lot of other things. It does a fabulous job of capturing youth, and will probably become one I'll reread more than once.