2008 Favorites

Well, the year is almost over.  That means it is time for wrap-up lists, one of my favorite parts of the year!  What are your favorite books of the year?  

Below are my favorite titles published this year:


  • Tennyson by Lesley M.M. Blume- I read this way back in the beginning of the year and it still stays with me. An amazing, haunting gothic tale of the fall of the south, through a young girl’s eyes. I loved it and so did my students.  In my review I said, “This is a novel that intelligent readers will love, because Blume does not condescend or speak down to her readers. In many ways, Tennyson reminded me of Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting. “


  • Diamond Willow by Helen Frost- A more recent read, this verse novel is gorgeous. The theme of the diamond willow branch flows smoothly throughout the story and is accessible to readers of all ages. Helen Frost is a master storyteller and I can’t wait to share this with my students.


  •  Every Soul A Star by Wendy Mass- I love Wendy Mass and I think this is one of her best.  It is a beautiful story with a ton of kid appeal.  Plus, it made me go out and look up more information on solar eclipses.  Plus, I haven’t seen it since I put it in my class library.  My kids absolutely love it, too!


  • Six Inningsby James Preller- I don’t even like baseball and I loved this book!  A great book to hand to boys and girls alike, it goes much deeper than just baseball and deals with life. The characters are realistic and easy to relate to. It’s just a great book all around!


  • The 39 Clues (The Maze of Bones, Book 1) by Rick Riordan- Admittedly, I wasn’t a big fan of this series when the news first broke. Trading cards? Online games? It sounded like a lame ploy to get kids to read. But when I gave in and read the first book, at the insistence of my class, I was hooked! This is a great mystery series full of Rick Riordan’s trademark humor and realistic characters who have unrealistic lives. Needless to say, it is a huge hit in my classroom and we are all desperately awaiting the release of the third book in the series!


  • Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson- Our current read-aloud, my class and I love Chains! Isabelle is a complex, multi-faceted character and her conflict with the American Revolution has made us all stop and think of our fight for independence in new ways.  See my review here.


  • My Father’s Son by Terri Fields- I am a bonafide crime addict. Well, reading about crime, at least. And watching many, many episodes of “Law and Order”. So when I had the opportunity to read and review Terri Fields’ My Father’s Son, I was very excited. And the book did not disappoint! Terri has crafted a fascinating story about a boy whose father is arrested and accused of being a serial killer. I couldn’t put it down.


  • The Underneath by Kathi Appelt- From my review: “The Underneath is all at once tragic, consuming, passionate, full of love, hopeful, and alternately beautiful and ugly. Appelt does the almost-impossible, by threading 3 separate stories into one amazing climax that will renew your faith in goodness and love. It is an adventure, full of magic, myth, and mysticism, of sorrow, of family – of life. Woven together like an elaborate tapestry, the result is gorgeous and awe-inspiring. Our first read-aloud of the year, both of my classes absolutely loved this story.”



  • the dead and the gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer- Susan Beth Pfeffer is single-handedly responsible for many of the voracious readers in my class. I am telling you- hand any reluctant reader a copy of the dead and the gone and they will be begging for more. The companion novel to her Life As We Knew It, takes place in NYC after a meteor has knocked the moon out of orbit. It’s absolutely terrifying, in a fantastic way!


  • What I Saw And How I Lied by Judy Blundell- This sat on my TBR pile until it was nominated for the National Book Award (which it eventually won). The nomination moved it up on the pile, as I finally learned what it was about. (The ARC had no blurb or summary!). Judy Blundell has woven an intricate story, full of dark twists and turns down paths you can’t even imagine. There is murder, intrigue, a fascinating backdrop of World War II, racism, classism, and a classic (but dark) coming-of-age story. This is a gorgeous book and one I would love to see used in classrooms over the next few years!


I read about 150 books this year, as of December 26th.  These are just a few of my favorites.  Ask me again tomorrow, and you will probably get a different list!  But I would to know what your favorite novels were this year.

4 Responses

  1. I am honored and thrilled to have My Father’s Son included on your list of this year’s favorites!


  2. Wow, I’m shocked to see my book here in such company — and grateful to you for reading it. Thanks. I’m not a great reader of contemporary children’s literature, but I did just read The Graveyard which I really enjoyed. Hey, it inspired me.

    I’m with you on the 39 Steps, in terms of my initial reaction to what looks like a huge marketing gimmick. I’m kind of grossed out by the whole thing. It just seems so manipulative. And yet, and yet. Maybe the books are good. They certainly lined up some nice writers.

    Anyway: Thanks for your comments on Six Innings. Have a great new year.

  3. Best Adult Fiction

    WHAT I WAS, Meg Rosoff

    THE CRAZY SCHOOL, Cornelia Read

    MY LIAR, Rachel Cline

    PEACE, Richard Bausch

    REAL LIFE AND LIARS, Kristina Riggle (forthcoming)

    HARRY, REVISED, Mark Sarvas

    BREATH, Tim Winton

    THE CALLING, Inger Ash Wolfe

    OLIVE KITTEREDGE, Elizabeth Strout

    NO ONE YOU KNOW, Michelle Richmond

    MATTERS OF FAITH, Kristy Kiernan

    FALLING UNDER, Danielle Younge-Ullman

    CHANGE OF HEART, Jodi Picoult

    IN THE WOODS, Tana French

    THE LIKENESS, Tana French

    COST, Roxana Robinson

    CRIME, Irvine Walsh

    TRAVEL WRITING, Peter Ferry

    TIME OF MY LIFE, Allison Winn Scotch

    THE LEGAL LIMIT, Martin Clark

    STALKING SUSAN, Julie Kramer

    REPLAY, Ken Grimwood

    THE BELIEVERS, Zoe Heller (forthcoming)


    Best Adult Nonfiction

    PETER JENNINGS: A REPORTER’S LIFE, edited by Kate Darnton, Kayce Freed Jennings, and Lynn Sherr

    REALITY SHOW, Howard Kurtz

    LETTERS TO A TEACHER, Sam Pickering

    INTO THIN AIR, Jon Krakauer

    THE LAST LECTURE, Randy Pausch

    AUDITION, Barbara Walters

    LAWYER BOY, Rick Lax



    Best Young Adult

    WAKE, Lisa McMann

    GYM CANDY, Carl Deuker

    BOY TOY, Barry Lyga


    SOMETHING HAPPENED, Greg Logsted (How could I not???)

    CATALYST, Laurie Halse Anderson

    Every book ever written by Sarah Dessen

    SWEETHEARTS, Sara Zarr

    TWELVE LONG MONTH, Brian Malloy

    GETTING THE GIRL, Marcus Zusak

    CRANK, Ellen Hopkins

    CRACKBACK, John Coy

    Best Middle Grade



    MASTERPIECE, Elise Broach

    Best from the Individual Categories

    Adult Fiction: BREATH, Tim Winton

    Nonfiction: a tie between LETTERS TO A TEACHER, Sam Pickering, and TIME OF THEIR LIVES, Al Silverman

    Young Adult: I cannot possibly be expected to choose.

    Middle Grade: THE WILLOUGHBYS, Lois Lowry

  4. […] teacher named Sarah appears to subsist entirely on books, dry toast, and water. After giving her list of favorites for 2008, she writes: “I read about 150 books this year, as of December 26th. These are just a few of […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: