Other Recommended books Richard and Judy Book Club Uncategorized

Top ten reads in 2008

2008 has been an amazing year of reading for me. Thanks to the Internet I have read many more great books than in other years. In fact about five of my all time top ten will come from books read (but not necessarily published) in 2008. In previous years, I picked books from the shelves of a bookshop, or library, based on the cover, and blurb on the back. I found some good books this way, but most were disappointing.

This year, thanks to sites like Story code, and through reading the recommendations of bloggers, with similar book tastes to me I have found a much higher quality of reading material.

My top ten for the year are:

1. A Fine Balance– Rohinton Mistry

2. Fingersmith – Sarah Waters

3. Random Acts of Heroic Love– Danny Scheinmann

4. Water for Elephants– Sara Gruen

5. Paperchase– Marcel Theroux

6. A Thousand Splendid SunsKhaled Hosseini

7. A Kestral for a Knave – Barry Hines

8. The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick

9. Middlesex– Jeffrey Eugenides

10. The End of Mr Y – Scarlett Thomas

Thank you for visiting my site in 2008! Have a happy, wonderful year of reading in 2009!


Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen

Books Before Blogging Review

I finished this book about six months ago, and remember it as a beautifully written, well researched book, with a great ending.

It is set during the American depression, and centres around Jacob, who finds himself working for a circus after he is unexpectedly orphaned. Life in the circus is described so vividly that I feel I could recognize each individual animal if they were ever put in front of me.

The story alternates between Jacob’s life in the circus, and Jacob as an old man, living in a nursing home. It is very cleverly paced, and full of twists and turns.

This book transports you to another world. It has a cast of amazing characters, and a very satisfying ending, with a clever twist. You can’t ask for more in a book! Highly recommended.

Also reviewed by: Dreamy Bee

Pulitzer Prize Recommended books

Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides

Books Before Blogging Review

I finished reading this book about 8 months ago, and I remember it as an interesting, insightful book about life as a hermaphrodite.

The book spans eight decades, and three generations of a Greek family who migrate to America in the 1920s. The main plot is told by 41-year-old Cal, who was born with an indeterminate gender. Raised as a girl, Cal realises that this was the wrong decision, and reverts to being male at the age of 18.

The first half of this book was pretty average – the relationship between the grandparents didn’t seem very plausible. The second half of the book, however, was one of the best pieces of writing I have ever read. It was touching, clever and I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommended – especially for reading groups.

Booker Prize

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha – Roddy Doyle

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha won the Booker Prize in 1993. It is the first Roddy Doyle book I have read, so I didn’t really know what to expect. 

It follows Paddy Clarke, as he grows up in 1960’s Dublin, witnessing the break down of his parent’s marriage

He has a real talent for being able to describe the thoughts and feelings of a ten year old boy:

I prefer magnifying glasses to matches. We spent afternoons burning little piles of cut grass. I loved watching the grass change colour. I loved it when the flame began to race through the grass. You had more control with a magnifying glass. It was easier but it took more skill.

I found some scenes touching, and I managed to read the whole book fairly quickly, but the plot meandered about a bit too much for me, so I didn’t get drawn into it fully. His childhood had very little in common with mine, so this may be another reason I was not as enthralled with this book as others seem to be. I was only born in 1978, so have no nostalgia for the 60s, and I was never a little boy, who had fights and played jokes on my teachers!

It was OK, but I think I’d only recommend it to older people, who would be able to fully appreciate the nostalgia this book has to offer.


Friday Finds – Count the Petals of the Moon

I saw Count the Petals of the Moon Daisy, by Martin Kirb, listed as someone’s favourite read of 2008, so had a quick look on Amazon, and saw it had some great reviews. I’ve added it to my wish list, and will try to get hold of a copy in 2009.

Has anyone else read it? If you have, please could you put a link to your review in the comments section. Thank you!


Happy Christmas!