The Flips Flipping Pages gathered on the last day of January 2009 to talk about their best and worst reads of 2008. It was supposed to be done ala-Show and Tell. Since most of my books have been boxed, I could not show my books. So I prepared this image instead. My absolute worst read was Heaven is Real. Never mind that is is badly written, repetitive, and solipsistic. What I didn't like about this was that it's so unbiblical, I think the devil itself wrote this. It deserves to burn, hence the lower right image. I just did not want to talk about it and dignify it, so my official worst read was Lauren Weisberger's The Devil Wears Prada. A slightly more entertaining take on the devil.
I saw the movie first and loved it. I suppose this only works in film, with the fashion montages, Meryl Streep, and Emily Blunt. The movie is crisp, fast-paced, and sharp-witted. The book is a major disappointment. Writing is mediocre, cumbersome, and tries too hard to be witty. I'm guessing it was just the Anna Wintour allusions that made this book a bestseller.
Check out my top 10 reads. Noteworthy are:
Lolita - Best Writing
I did not want nor expect to like this, but the I was blown away by Nabokov's writing. It takes great skill to make readers sympathize for such a despicable character.
Review at: http://islandhopper.blogspot.com/2008/11/lolita-by-vladimir-nabokov.html
To Kill A Mockingbird - Best Message
Review at: http://islandhopper.blogspot.com/2008/12/to-kill-mockinbird-by-harper-lee.html
Balzac and The Little Chinese Seamstress - Most Charming
and The Best Cinematography in the Movie of My Mind
Review at: http://islandhopper.blogspot.com/2008/11/balzac-and-little-chinese-seamstress-by.html
The Shack - Most Thought Provoking
Review at: http://islandhopper.blogspot.com/2008/11/shack-by-william-p-young.html
And the Best Read for 2008 was not the best written, not the most famous, not the one that made me cry. I chose it because it was the one that was most personal, the one that I could relate to the most, the one that struck a chord. A Celibate Season is about a husband and wife separated for a season due to the wife's work. This reminded me so much of the 7 months I spent working in Hanoi, Vietnam -- the loneliness, the misery, the growing independence, communicating through written words, the challenges to be faithful, and eventually the realization that very few things are worth the prolonged separation of husband and wife who want to keep a marriage healthy. Review at: http://islandhopper.blogspot.com/2008/11/celibate-season-by-carol-shields-and.html
2008 was definitely about books. I have never ever bought and read as many books as I did last year. I was hard put to choose the one best book, but there were many, many good reads. I felt so accomplished having set aside that much time for reading. The FFP book discussions challenged me to read books I wouldn't normally read, expanded my comfort zones, and forced me to form and express opinions about books. I discovered authors. I learned. I enjoyed. I met people even more passionate than I was about books. Thousands of pesos spent on books. Hundreds of miles and hours walked in search of books. Tens of square meters of floor space disappeared under mountain piles of books. The experience of falling in love with books over and over again -- just priceless.