Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Best Books of Someone's Opinion!

The end of the year...and holiday book buying time...will soon be upon us, so it is time for The Lists. We...ok, I ... need help with buying the perfect whatever, so there is nothing like a fine list to help us. Best inkjet printer, best 40” LCD TV, best blender, best Hawaiian resort. Big or small, there is a “Best” list out there to guide us.

And admit it, they are just fun. Do we agree, do we disagree, do your think Aunt Millie might like that one?

So, it was with great interest that I read on Omnivoracious , the Amazon book blog, that come November, Amazon has come out with their Best Books of 2008 page, “featuring our Top 100 Editors' Picks, our Customer Favorites list of the year's top 100 bestsellers, dozens more top 10s in categories from Audiobooks to Teens, and--for the first time this year--our top 10 book covers and videos.
My, my, so many 'bests' all in one place, and book 'bests' to boot.

Now granted, I have a bit of a love/hate thing going with Amazon. I admit it; I buy the majority of books that I buy through Amazon. Best selection, best prices, so convenient. Even a huge selection of used books, brought right to the door by the Man in the Big Brown Truck..or that other fellow in the smaller white jeep, also known as the USPS worker.
But at what price? Is it destroying the small, local bookstore. Can any bookstore, even the big Borders and Barnes and Nobles stores compete? Do we risk losing the chance to spent an afternoon wandering the tables and shelves of a cozy store in return for saving a bit of money? And there is something a bit Big Brotherish about the site. Do I want 'someone' knowing every book that I bought and every subject that I 'viewed'. It's a wee bit creepy..even if it is helpful.
Maybe a topic for another day.

But back to the list of the top 100 books of 2008, chosen by the editors of Amazon. First of all, I didn't quite realize that Amazon had editors. But second, what I found shocking was that of the top 10, I had only heard of one. Not read it, but heard of it. I have said it before and I will say it again...I am not nearly as well read as I thought.

  • The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher

  • Hurry Down Sunshine by Michael Greenberg

  • Nixonland by Rick Perlstein

  • The Forever War by Dexter Filkins

  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

  • The Likeness by Tana French

  • Serena by Ron Rash

  • So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger

  • The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon

  • The Ten-Percent Plague by David Hajdu

On the other hand, you have the list of the top customer picks of 2008, books published this year and that sold the most through October.

  • Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pauch

  • Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

  • The Appeal by John Grishim

  • When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

  • In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

  • The Revolution by Ron Paul

  • The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Well, at least I have heard of several of these. Again, I haven't read any of them but I have heard of most of them! It made me feel a little better.
What I found rather interesting, was that the two lists, editor's choices and reader's choices, share only one book, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. Which would seem to mean that this is the one book that I should put on my 'to buy' list.

So any opinions? Have you read any of these, are any on your list for best book of the year. If not, what is your favorite book of the year?
Do you think Aunt Millie will like any of them?


  1. Is the book you know on Amazon's Best of 2008 list "The Likeness" by Tana French? It's also on Publishers Weekly's list of the Best 25 Books of 2008. One of the best in lots of someones' opinions!

  2. I've heard of 2 of the editor's list, and all but one of the customer picks (only one of which I've read part of). Why am I not tempted to rush out and read these books? Maybe because my TBR stack is too high already.

  3. No david, actually the only one that I had heard of was The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I recently read a good review of it somewhere. And then, as I said, it is on both lists, the editor's choice and the best selling. A good sign.

    But now that you mention it, The Likeness rand a bell too, or at least the author's name did. I have a copy of her book In The Woods in my way too tall TBR pile. ali, I feel your

  4. Of all the books, you listed, I've read one. There were a lot that I've never heard of, just like you. I like instant gratification, so I buy my books locally.

  5. Oh, I can be swept up in the instant gratification thing. Remember I bought two books at a ferry depot.

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