Saturday, January 10, 2009

Best Books Read in 2008

My Previous Best Books: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007.

I read 18 books last year, with one I finished on the very last day of the year: Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. I like the list. A nice mix of fiction and non-fiction.

My favorite non-fiction was The Outlaw Sea, by William Langewiesche. This book explores the open sea, and its inhospitable nature. There are pirates, storms, and descriptions of ships as they're being disassembled for parts. I felt it blended in well with Uncommon Carriers, by John McPhee, which I read later in the year (and which was my second favorite).

Honorable mentions: Ball Four (Jim Bouton), Hammer of the Gods (Stephen Davis).

My favorite fiction was Then We Came to the End. This is a novel set in a modern workplace, and it concerns itself with petty rumors, office politics, and layoffs. In other words, it's a fiction of the lives led by many people in the white-collar world. It has a lot of spot-on observations, and a tricky literary point of view (it's told from the first person plural ("We saw him come out of the elevator"), with a brief interlude to take on another character's point of view). This was Joshua Ferris' first novel, and it's a winner.

Honorable mentions: Tree of Smoke (Denis Johnson), American Pastoral (Philip Roth), Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (Philip K. Dick).


  1. I plan to read the Malcolm Gladwell book and will read the office politics novel you recommended.
    Check out and They allow you to keep track of a virtual bookcase. I've been on shelfari and I keep track of the books I've raad as well as books I'm planning to read via the site. Here's to more great books in 2009.

  2. Great post Rick. I will definitely be following a couple of your recommendations.

    Mike H (fellow Arlingtonian :))