Hard to believe it's already Saturday. I head to D.C. this afternoon, before going back to Maine on Monday. If I'm up early enough, I'll post on Monday before I hit the road.
In the meantime, here's the second half of my top ten books of 2008 -- again, not necessarily published this year, but read this year. (The first half of the list is here.)
Lauren Groff, THE MONSTERS OF TEMPLETON. A dazzling first novel, in which the plot is not nearly as important as the powerful setting and back story.
Steve Martin, BORN STANDING UP. The only audiobook on this list, but it would be on the list no matter what medium I found it in. The author's reading of his own work adds a level of understated emotion to this story of the discipline, determination and loneliness required by his stand-up career.
Ammon Shea, READING THE OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages. A too-short memoir of the year Shea spent reading the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary. I don't know what I admire more, that he did it or that he got someone to pay him for it; either way, it's essential reading for anyone who gets drunk on words.
Willy Vlautin, NORTHLINE. A short, spare novel about earning redemption one day at a time, as Allison Johnson learns that running away from her bad choices is only the first step. The edition I read came with a CD of original music that was equally moody and beautiful.
Marianne Wiggins, THE SHADOW CATCHER. Two books in one, as Wiggins tells parallel stories about iconic photographer Edward S. Curtis and her fictional self's search for the secrets about Curtis's life. Not many writers could pull off what Wiggins does here -- a fascinating book that is about the act of its own writing as much as it is about its subject.
On any given day, this list might have included any of these books, too: John Connolly, THE REAPERS; Tana French, IN THE WOODS; Ron Hansen, EXILES; Declan Hughes, THE PRICE OF BLOOD; Laura Lippman, HARDLY KNEW HER; Jack O'Connell, THE RESURRECTIONIST; Douglas Preston, BLASPHEMY; Nina Revoyr, THE AGE OF DREAMING; Jenny Siler, THE PRINCE OF BAGRAM PRISON; and Olen Steinhauer, THE TOURIST, which won't be published until March 2009.