Friday, 9 January 2009

My favourite book of 2008

It's that time of year for me! My year-end review for 2008:

books read: 60
biggest increases: children's fantasy, and non-fiction
challenges completed: 6
best reads of the year:
not in any particular order
Tamsin - Peter S. Beagle
Coraline - Neil Gaiman
Something Rotten - Jasper Fforde
The Woman in Black - Susan Hill
The Terror - Dan Simmons
The Night Country - Stewart O'Nan
Owls and Other Fantasies - Mary Oliver
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

and my favourite book of 2008
: Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar

I loved Lonely Werewolf Girl. Of all the books I read, it is the one that keeps coming into my mind, that I keep reliving parts of. The characters are vivid and funny and realistic and the family is dramatic and oh so real, the story is interesting and heart-breaking and affirming, just like life is. And it's about werewolves in the real world, a terrific urban fantasy. I will be rereading this one again soon, just so I can take my time with it this time, and savour it.

I do have to give an honourable mention to Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes. I am almost half-way through reading this collection of poems. The poems are so powerful with emotion, with love and pain, hate and joy, that it is a rollercoaster ride to read them, and I have to take it slowly. It's also an opening into how he saw Sylvia Plath, which brings her to life for the reader, too. Every poem is a revelation of his heart and soul. This is what poetry should be, though it doesn't make it light reading! I am lingering over phrases and words and images as Hughes presents his life with Sylvia, and what she was to him. As a poet myself, I recognize how these poems must have burst out of him, they had to be written, but at the same time they leave him so naked, that they must have been both painful and joyful to write. Anyone who says writing is easy, should try writing a poem or two about something that really hurts, or that the writer feels passion for, for in that passion is also life, or least that is what I'm finding. These poems are about passion, which isn't nice, but without which we could not live. At least, I wouldn't want to, and these poems are about living with that passion with another person. For just moments we get glimpses of Sylvia alive. I'm not a poetry critic, but from my humble perspective, these are poems that are about being alive, and are awesome for the energy and life that comes through them.

All in all, a successful year for me, I read as much as I have in previous years, so my next goal is to increase the numbers of books I read, as always! But to have that many favourite reads, makes it a really satisfying year for me for reading.

The challenges were fun, and certainly helped me read more widely - and add more books! - so I will be continuing with the ones I've already joined. I have to update the list on my sidebar and see what I want to join for this year. I'll write about Carl's sci fi experience later this weekend (click on the sidebar button), as well as Dewey's challenge hosted by Chris and Robin (same, sidebar is linked), and see what else is new and exciting for challenges this year. I am enjoying Becky's 42 science fiction challenge (also linked already),which I have already started on by watching the Dr Who special on New Year's Day in England!! 39 science fiction things to go!!

It's the weekend! Hurray! Happy reading everyone!!


Daphne said...

I have Woman In Black on hold at the library! And I chose The Terror as my favorite book of the year. I want to read Tamsin. and as soon as I locate a copy of The Lonely Werewolf Girl, I'm reading it. :)

Susan said...

I have to come see your post, I'm still catching up on blogs from when I was away! I hope you like The Lonely Werewolf Girl! and the Woman in Black - so very creepy and scary, it still gives me the chills just thinking about it!

Bookwormom said...

I've not read any of the books on your best of list other than Madeleine L'Engle. Her non fiction is wonderful.

Susan said...

bookwormom: I have her Circle Of Quiet, which I read years ago, and have to reread soon, I really enjoyed it too. I think she is really underrated as a writer.

GeraniumCat said...

You're back! I hope you all had a really great time in the UK? Love the York picture, it's a familiar view and reminds me it's time I visited York again.

I've read and loved 5 of your best reads, so I thoroughly approve of your choices.

Chris said...

Fantastic list SUsan! I've loved many of those books as well. And I can't wait to read Lonely Werewolf Girl. It's been on my list ever since everyone started talking about it. Loved The Good Fairies of New York, so I'm sure I'll enjoy that one as well!

Andrea said...

Several of your favorites are on my TBR list! I'm glad to see you enjoyed them so much, it makes me want to read them even more.

I took a poetry writing class in college and it was the easiest/hardest class I took! It was easy because the professor felt that he couldn't grade poems that people wrote thoughtfully and from the heart so everyone got an A if they participate and were obviously thoughtful. It was hard because it's such a personal thing. When you start searching yourself for subjects to write about it's amazing what you bring to the surface. Some of my poems I kept to myself and turned in the ones that weren't as passionate. I admire people who can publish their more passionate poems!

Nymeth said...

I just love your taste, Susan! All the books I've read among your favourites were favourites of mine too.

And wow...I really want to pick up Birthday Letters now.

Susan said...

geraniumcat: Yes, we're back. And I'm so sorry we couldn't meet up!

I think i know which books from my list you loved :-) I especially like that since I've begun blogging, I have most unexpectedly found so many people who do share my taste in books! It's always a delight to go read you because we do like so many of the same things.

Chris: Did you read The Terror? I have to read the Good Fairies of New York, which I picked up in the fall after I got Lonely Werewolf Girl. I love finding new authors that I so thoroughly enjoy! I still can't find Cherie Priest, though, who I've been looking for since your review last fall.

Andrea: you really got it in one. The best poetry leaves something of yourself open to the world, which is what I think can be said about the best art. I can't think of anything more nerve-wracking than reading my poetry out loud to a room full of strangers! Let me know if you read any books I have reviews for, I'll add a link to you :-)

nymeth: thanks! since I love your taste and there are so many books on my TBR pile because of you, I think of you as my blogging friend most likely to lead me into financial ruin :-) and all sorts of temptation! lol irresistible is another word for the books you read!!

It's fun when we share favourites, too. It feels like a community we're building because of our love of books.