Best Books of 2008

Editors' Picks: Top 100 Books

Best of 2008
It took us almost a whole year of reading to find our favorite book of 2008: Philip Hensher's The Northern Clemency, a late addition to the fall publication schedule after it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. A fat and fulfilling novel of two families in Sheffield, England, during the '70s, '80s, and '90s, The Northern Clemency inhabits the lives of more than a dozen characters with the kind of brilliant observation and imagination that reminded us of recent favorites like The Corrections, The Emperor's Children, and On Beauty.

You can browse through all our top 100 editors' picks for 2008 below, and find many more editors' picks and customer favorites in our Best of 2008 Store.


Showing 1 - 28 of 100 Results
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1. The Northern Clemency
The Northern Clemency
by Philip Hensher
3.3 out of 5 stars (47 customer reviews)
Currently unavailable
Alfred A. Knopf
October 30, 2008
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, November 2008: The Northern Clemency begins at the perimeter of a late-summer party, amidst a din of neighbors gossiping one moment and navigating awkward silences the next. But once you encounter the Glover family--in particular, their languidly handsome teenage son Daniel--there's no turning back. ... Read more

2. Hurry Down Sunshine
Hurry Down Sunshine
by Michael Greenberg
4.2 out of 5 stars (119 customer reviews)
In Stock
Other Press
September 9, 2008
Hardcover

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Price:$16.79
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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, September 2008: Michael Greenberg's spare, unflinching memoir begins with a bang: "On July 5, 1996, my daughter was struck mad." Hurry Down Sunshine chronicles the summer when fifteen-year-old Sally experienced her first full-blown manic episode—an event that in a "single stroke" changed her identity ... Read more

3. Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America
Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America
by Rick Perlstein
4.0 out of 5 stars (157 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
Scribner
May 13, 2008
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, May 2008: How did we go from Lyndon Johnson's landslide Democratic victory in 1964 to Richard Nixon's equally lopsided Republican reelection only eight years later? The years in between were among the most chaotic in American history, with an endless and unpopular war, riots, ... Read more

4. The Forever War
The Forever War
by Dexter Filkins
4.6 out of 5 stars (248 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
Knopf
September 16, 2008
Hardcover

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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Filkins, a New York Times prize–winning reporter, is widely regarded as among the finest war correspondents of this generation. His richly textured book is based on his work in Afghanistan and Iraq since 1998. It begins with a Taliban-staged execution in Kabul. It ends with Filkins musing ... Read more

5. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel (Oprah Book Club #62)
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel (Oprah Book Club #62)
by David Wroblewski
3.2 out of 5 stars (2,061 customer reviews)
Usually ships in 2 to 4 weeks
Ecco
September 19, 2008
Hardcover

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List Price:$25.95
Price:$19.40
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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, June 2008: It's gutsy for a debut novelist to offer a modern take on Hamlet set in rural Wisconsin--particularly one in which the young hero, born mute, communicates with people, dogs, and the occasional ghost through his own mix of sign and body language. ... Read more

6. The Likeness: A Novel
The Likeness: A Novel
by Tana French
4.0 out of 5 stars (618 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
Viking Adult
July 17, 2008
Hardcover

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From Booklist
*Starred Review* French’s debut novel, In the Woods (2007), introduced Dublin Murder Squad detective Cassie Maddox and earned unanimous critical praise. Cassie is back, and French has written another winner. The body of a young woman is found in the ruins of a old stone cottage in a dying ... Read more

7. Serena: A Novel
Serena: A Novel
by Ron Rash
3.8 out of 5 stars (611 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
Ecco
October 7, 2008
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is n... Read more

8. So Brave, Young and Handsome: A Novel
So Brave, Young and Handsome: A Novel
by Leif Enger
4.2 out of 5 stars (168 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
Atlantic Monthly Press
April 22, 2008
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Significant Seven, April 2008: A gritty western couched in the easy storytelling style of a folk ballad (think 3:10 to Yuma as sung by the Kingston Trio), Leif Enger's highly anticipated second novel (his first was Peace Like a River) tells the story of outlaw Glendon Hale's ... Read more

9. The Lazarus Project
The Lazarus Project
by Aleksandar Hemon
3.6 out of 5 stars (67 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
Putnam Juvenile
May 1, 2008
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, May 2008: America has a richer literary landscape since Aleksandar Hemon, stranded in the United States in 1992 after war broke out in his native Sarajevo, adopted Chicago as his new home. He completed his first short story within three years of learning to ... Read more

10. The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America
The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America
by David Hajdu
4.2 out of 5 stars (69 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
March 18, 2008
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Significant Seven, March 2008: I may be alone here, but when I read Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, a whole strata of American artists came to life for me. Ever since then I've been waiting for a book like David Hajdu's The Ten-Cent Plague ... Read more

11. The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America
The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America
by Thurston Clarke
4.6 out of 5 stars (71 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
Henry Holt and Co.
May 27, 2008
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, June 2008: When Senator Robert F. Kennedy entered the presidential race during the chaotic year of 1968, anarchy appeared to be gathering on the horizon. America was coming to grips with an unwinnable war in Vietnam and unacceptable social policies at home. The Last ... Read more

12. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson
3.9 out of 5 stars (4,999 customer reviews)
In Stock
Knopf
September 16, 2008
Hardcover

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Price:$17.46
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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, September 2008: Once you start The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, there's no turning back. This debut thriller--the first in a trilogy from the late Stieg Larsson--is a serious page-turner rivaling the best of Charlie Huston and Michael Connelly. Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected ... Read more

13. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 2: The Kingdom on the Waves
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 2: The Kingdom on the Waves
by M. T. Anderson
4.1 out of 5 stars (22 customer reviews)
In Stock
Candlewick
October 14, 2008
Hardcover

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Price:$18.27
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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, October 2008: With the publication of The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Volume I back in 2006, M.T. Anderson assured readers that his gripping account of the American Revolution from the perspective of a young slave in colonial Boston would continue. Volume I received ... Read more

14. Sitting Bull
Sitting Bull
by Bill Yenne
4.2 out of 5 stars (20 customer reviews)
In Stock
Westholme Publishing
April 28, 2008
Hardcover

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Price:$20.45
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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Significant Seven, April 2008: As a celebrated warrior, shaman, and leader of the Lakota tribe, Sitting Bull was both a fascinating and frightening icon to the expanding United States, a 19th-century cross-cultural superstar who was at once a friend to Buffalo Bill and the emblem of Native American ... Read more

15. Netherland: A Novel
Netherland: A Novel
by Joseph O'Neill
3.3 out of 5 stars (213 customer reviews)
Currently unavailable
Pantheon
May 20, 2008
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Joseph O'Neill Joseph O’Neill was born in Ireland and raised in Holland. He received a law degree from Cambridge University and worked as a barrister in London. He writes regularly for The Atlantic Monthly and is the author of two previous ... Read more

16. Home: A Novel
Home: A Novel
by Marilynne Robinson
3.8 out of 5 stars (219 customer reviews)
In Stock
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
September 2, 2008
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, September 2008: "What does it mean to come home?" In one way or another, every character in Home is searching for that answer. Glory Boughton, now 38 and lovelorn, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Her wayward brother Jack also ... Read more

17. Duma Key: A Novel
Duma Key: A Novel
by Stephen King
4.2 out of 5 stars (1,015 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
Scribner
January 22, 2008
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Significant Seven, January 2008: It would be impossible to convey the wonder and the horror of Stephen King's latest novel in just a few words. Suffice it to say that Duma Key, the story of Edgar Freemantle and his recovery from the ... Read more

18. Lush Life: A Novel
Lush Life: A Novel
by Richard Price
3.7 out of 5 stars (255 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
March 4, 2008
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Significant Seven, March 2008: No one has a better ear and eye for the American city than Richard Price, and in Lush Life, his first novel in five years, he leaves the fictional environs of Dempsy, New Jersey, where Clockers, Freedomland, and Samaritan were set, for a few ... Read more

19. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
by Michael Pollan
4.4 out of 5 stars (782 customer reviews)
In Stock
Penguin Press HC, The
January 1, 2008
Hardcover

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Price:$14.63
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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Significant Seven, January 2008: Food is the one thing that Americans hate to love and, as it turns out, love to hate. What we want to eat has been ousted by the notion of what we should eat, and it's at this nexus of hunger and hang-up that ... Read more

20. The Underneath
The Underneath
by Kathi Appelt
3.9 out of 5 stars (143 customer reviews)
In Stock
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
May 6, 2008
Hardcover

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From School Library Journal
Grade 4–8—Appelt brings Southern Gothic to the middle grade set. Three separate but eventually entwined stories are told piecemeal. There is the tale of an abandoned, pregnant calico cat who finds shelter and friendship with the bloodhound, Ranger. He is the abused and neglected pet of Gar Face, a ... Read more

21. Knockemstiff
Knockemstiff
by Donald Ray Pollock
4.0 out of 5 stars (153 customer reviews)
Currently unavailable
Doubleday
March 18, 2008
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Significant Seven, March 2008: A quick Internet search for "Knockemstiff, Ohio" reveals a lazy nexus of shabby houses and dirt roads in southern Ohio, lacking a post office and grocery store, but rich in legends of epic fistfights and swamp-dwelling ghosts. Donald Ray Pollock, a ... Read more

22. A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes
A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes
by David Tanis
4.2 out of 5 stars (40 customer reviews)
Usually ships in 2 to 4 weeks
Artisan
October 1, 2008
Hardcover

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List Price:$35.00
Price:$25.49
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Both a meditation on the powerful rites of cooking and serving a meal and a gentle but serious education in doing both, this book by the part-time head chef at Berkeley's renowned Chez Panisse is an impressive ode to the simple beauty of fo... Read more

23. Pravda: A Novel
Pravda: A Novel
by Edward Docx
3.3 out of 5 stars (15 customer reviews)
In Stock
Mariner Books
March 19, 2008
Paperback

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List Price:$13.95
Price:$10.85
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From Publishers Weekly
Docx's second novel (after The Calligrapher) wrings out all the theatrics to be had from unhappy urban-dwelling twins, their sexually voracious father and dead Russian mother. Twins Gabriel and Isabella Glover, both 32 and leading lackluster lives—she at a New York PR firm, he the editor in London of ... Read more

24. 2666: A Novel
2666: A Novel
by Roberto Bolaño
3.9 out of 5 stars (213 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
November 11, 2008
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, November 2008: It was one thing to read Roberto Bolaño's novel The Savage Detectives last year and have your mind thrilled and expanded by a sexy, meandering masterpiece born whole into the English language. It was still another to read it and know, from ... Read more

25. Alinea
Alinea
by Grant Achatz
4.7 out of 5 stars (78 customer reviews)
In Stock
10 Speed Press
October 1, 2008
Hardcover

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List Price:$60.00
Price:$39.27
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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2008: The dishes at Grant Achatz's award-winning Chicago restaurant Alinea are entirely new, yet what diners taste often resurrects their most cherished food memories. Achatz has said that flavor is memory, and of all the ways in which Alinea appeals to the ... Read more

26. The Cellist of Sarajevo
The Cellist of Sarajevo
by Steven Galloway
4.4 out of 5 stars (258 customer reviews)
Out of Print--Limited Availability
Riverhead Hardcover
May 15, 2008
Hardcover

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From Publishers Weekly
Canadian Galloway (Ascension) delivers a tense and haunting novel following four people trying to survive war-torn Sarajevo. After a mortar attack kills 22 people waiting in line to buy bread, an unnamed cellist vows to play at the point of impact for 22 days. Meanwhile, Arrow, a young woman ... Read more

27. Collections of Nothing
Collections of Nothing
by William Davies King
3.7 out of 5 stars (13 customer reviews)
Currently unavailable
University Of Chicago Press
July 25, 2008
Hardcover

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Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, December 2008: One of the oddest memoirs of the year may well be the best. William Davies King is a theater professor who over his fifty-plus years has gathered, in countless binders and boxes, a vast collection of things nobody else wants: cat-food labels, ... Read more

28. The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Book 1)
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Book 1)
by Suzanne Collins
4.6 out of 5 stars (22,784 customer reviews)
In Stock
Scholastic Press
September 14, 2008
Hardcover

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List Price:$18.99
Price:$12.59
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Reviewed by Megan Whalen Turner If there really are only seven original plots in the world, it's odd that boy meets girl is always mentioned, and society goes bad and attacks the good guy never is. Yet we have Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, The House of the ... Read more

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