Q4U: Books We Loved in 2008

Okay, I know, I’m almost seven hours late with this post. Sorry! Another Christmas party last night… by the time I got home I couldn’t think of anything but sleep. Is it Friday yet? Oh yeah, it IS Friday. Phew…

So here’s today’s post, our almost-the-end-of-the-year version.


What was your favorite book in 2008?

It doesn’t have to have been released in 2008, just something you read this year. Fiction or nonfiction. Try to limit to three or fewer if possible.

As for me, if you’re going to ask me my favorites… this was my first year being an agent and I simply could not find much time for pleasure reading. Almost everything I read was pre-published. In 2009 I want to rectify that. Tell me what you loved so I can catch up!

Rachelle Gardner is a Christian literary agent affiliated with WordServe Literary Group in Colorado.

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Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. The Domestic Intellectual on December 30, 2008 at 2:57 PM

    >I’m a newbie reader of your blog compliments of Abraham Piper’s blog. 2007 was a great year for reading…. 2008, not so much. Here are two that I have really relished.

    1.(a new favorite) The Death of Adam by Marilynne Robinson

    2.(an old favorite) Till We Have Faces by CS Lewis

  2. ~ Brandilyn Collins on December 28, 2008 at 11:45 PM

    >Rachelle, I am late in reading this post. Just wanted to say thank you for showing Dark Pursuit as a fav of yours in 2008!

    Lotsa love, ~ Brandilyn

  3. Christina Berry on December 22, 2008 at 2:43 AM

    >I just answered the same question over on Chip’s blog: Deception by Randy Alcorn. Plot twists to make any writer insanely jealous. More humor than any other book I’ve read that’s full of murder. One of those that you can read without critiquing craft and can recommend to ANYONE, believer or not.

  4. christa on December 21, 2008 at 1:51 PM

    >The TWILIGHT series–all four of them!
    THE DEAD DON’T DANCE-Charles Martin
    THE SHAPE OF MERCY-Susan Meissner

    All of the above are to blame for my backlog of ungraded papers.

  5. RumorsOfGlory on December 21, 2008 at 8:41 AM

    >Two books that I would talk with you about at a cocktail party would be "Made to Stick" by Dan & Chip Heath and "Same Kind of Different as Me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

  6. Crystal Laine Miller on December 20, 2008 at 7:52 PM

    >BTW, I love these Q4Us on your blogs. Quite clever. I would love to have a forum like that.

    I judged in a published book contest, was a reviewer for a magazine and read books for other entities–it seems all I did this year was read. (Not counting manuscripts–but not as many as you’ve read by a long shot.)

    Anyway, I really liked Ginger Garrett’s In the Shadow of Lions. Still, that’s a hard choice because there were many books I loved, and it seems that they were mostly historical fiction (romance, especially) or suspense or mystery.

    The ONE book I read for ME was actually a love/hate book called The Fat Smash Diet by Ian K. Smith, M.D. Yeah. Just for me. Loved it as it was healthy, caused results. Hated it because it ruined my eating out fun. But my specialty at one magazine to review is health books–but I found this one on my own. Funny. Irony?

    Anyway, I’m redoing this book as I have fallen off my wagon and now have to go back to phase I. At Christmas. Uphill both ways. In the snow. Alas.

  7. Marian on December 20, 2008 at 2:25 PM

    >How Not to Write a Novel by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman. It’s bitingly sarcastic, but very informative and helpful for writers.

    I sometimes find I learn better from stories of what’s done wrong than from examples where everything is right.

  8. Dara on December 20, 2008 at 1:42 PM

    >*Ghost in my last review. Argh, I hat making typos 😛

  9. Dara on December 20, 2008 at 1:39 PM

    >1. Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen–Better than I thought it would be! As much as I love Christian fiction, it’s hard for me to find a book that I like because of the message being too overt. This one was really good in that it was historical (a plus in my book!) and that it confronted an issue of a young woman giving birth to a child out of wedlock when such a thing was shameful and “tainted” the family. It’s about birthing houses set up for unwed mothers–the redemption factor was subtle, which is what I really enjoyed. It may be one I’ll actually have to purchase.

    2. Peony in Love by Lisa See–Very unique…most of the book deals is based off of an old Chinese play and a book/commentary written by three wives about the play…except the main character, the first wife, is a ghose through most of it. An interesting view and story using the old Chinese beliefs concerning the afterlife.

  10. natalie on December 20, 2008 at 8:42 AM

    >My favorite read was The Confessions of Max Tivoli. If anybody is interested, it looks SO MUCH like Benjamin Button. I thought BB had to be based on Max and then I read about the F. Scott Fitzgearald story it came from. Max Tivoli broke my heart in a good way. The writing is spectacular. The story is wonderful. I’m so glad I found it (it came out a few years ago so its in paperback). As far as popular fiction, I read the whole Twilight series, and liked them initially – but I’m disappointed with how the series ended. I applaud any book that gives a teen reason to read, but something about T-light irks me and I can’t figure out what it is (maybe just the extreme over exposure). Still, I think if someone can read the series and just have fun with them and not get psycho obsessed, they’re fun. My friends and I call them junkfood lit. I liked The Host more.

  11. T-Anne on December 20, 2008 at 2:18 AM

    >Beth Moore- Breaking Free!!!!! So wonderful!

  12. Meredith Teagarden on December 19, 2008 at 11:26 PM

    >I loved The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. Also, I loved Lisa See’s Snowflower and the Secret Fan.

  13. Anonymous on December 19, 2008 at 10:52 PM

    >My favorites from 2008 have been “My Hands Came Away Red” by new Moody author, Lisa McKay, “The Shack” by William P. Young, and “A Constant Heart” by Siri Mitchell.

    — Sarah Salter

  14. Christina S. Nelson on December 19, 2008 at 8:57 PM

    >I just finished The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner and it was great. Uncharted by Angela Hunt really left me thinking.

    Merry Christmas!

  15. Yvonne on December 19, 2008 at 7:06 PM

    >Madeleine L’Engle ?

    I love her books! I’ve got a few of them but hadn’t heard of “Walking on the Water”. I’ll have to look for it.

  16. kfeldotto on December 19, 2008 at 6:56 PM

    >Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee
    Soul Cravings by Erwin McManus
    Chasing Fireflies by Charles Martin


  17. Mark Crumpler on December 19, 2008 at 6:15 PM

    >1. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
    2. I Told the Mountain to Move (Patricia Rayborn)
    3. Praying for Dear Life (Tom Steagald)
    4. Made to Stick (Chip and Dan Heath)
    5. Tell it Slant (Eugene Peterson)

  18. Myowne on December 19, 2008 at 5:49 PM

    >I read so much that it really is hard to pick just a few to name but one book that has stuck with me thru this year is Shauna Niequist’s first book, “Cold Tangerines.” It really helped me see life with a more positive perspective. I also am reading Ted Dekker’s latest “Sinner.” I wasn’t a big fan of his at first but I really am enjoying this one.

  19. Janet on December 19, 2008 at 4:40 PM

    >Beloved by Toni Morrison.

    Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn.

    Neither one new, but both very, very impressive.

  20. Dal Jeanis on December 19, 2008 at 3:46 PM

    >So Far,

    YA Fantasy (Light Urbanish sans vampires or weres)
    Prom Dates from Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore

    Literary Fantasy (Postapocalyptic type)
    The Pesthouse by Jim Crace

    Contemporary Romance (Light Southern Gothic flavor)
    Tied to the Tracks by Rosina Lippi

  21. Rebecca LuElla Miller on December 19, 2008 at 2:52 PM

    >Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee (NavPress)
    Waiting for Daybreak by Kathryn Cushman (Bethany)
    The Feast of Saint Bertie by Kathleen Popa (David C. Cook)


  22. Lea Ann McCombs on December 19, 2008 at 2:21 PM

    >Read? Like, a book? Who can read when they’re in writing mode?

    Writing and editing have totally ruined pleasure reading for me! Now when I pick up a book by a favorite author, all I see are mistakes! My inner child is constantly whining: “Hey! How come they get to (choose one)head-hop, begin 3 sentences in a row with gerunds, use passive voice, over-use telling instead of showing, eight pages of description narrative, three chapters of backstory, etc…

    I look forward to one day getting to read with out that inner voice rewriting every sentence!

  23. Nicole on December 19, 2008 at 2:20 PM

    >”their”????? should have been “there”. YUK, I hate doing that.

  24. adrienne on December 19, 2008 at 2:05 PM

    >My favorite this year was Life of Pi.

  25. DCS on December 19, 2008 at 2:03 PM

    >The Moonshine War, by Elmore Leonard

  26. Paula on December 19, 2008 at 1:47 PM

    >Some of my favorites were:

    “How to Solve Your People Problems” by Dr. Alan Godwin

    “The Appeal” by John Grisham

    A little self published book called “Growing Up Ugly” by Donetta Garman

    My last pick is “The Husband Project” by Kathi Lipp. This book officially releases on Jan. 1st, but I got a sneak peak. Funny and insightful.

  27. Mark on December 19, 2008 at 12:59 PM

    >Most intriguing:

    Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind by David Berreby

    A slow read for me though. I have to put it down every few pages and cogitate.

  28. Cristin on December 19, 2008 at 12:50 PM

    >The best book I’ve read this year is an older one:

    “Walking on Water” by Madeleine L’Engle.

    I borrowed it from a friend. Hopefully I’m getting it for Christmas because it’s one I’d like to read more slowly and probably several times.

  29. Zoe on December 19, 2008 at 12:43 PM

    >In the order in which I read them:

    1. The Kite Runner
    2. Possession by A.S. Byatt

  30. Christy on December 19, 2008 at 12:34 PM

    >2008 was a big YA year for me.

    I read all four books in the TWILIGHT series and the first five Harry Potters.

  31. Anonymous on December 19, 2008 at 12:15 PM

    >betty a. says…

    1. Empathy: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

    2. Laughs: Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg

    3. Thought-provoking: The Shack by Paul Young

    4. Feminine perspective: Woman Egypt by Jehan Sadat

  32. Camille Cannon Eide on December 19, 2008 at 12:10 PM

    >I’ve been a cave-dwelling writing machine this year, so not much pleasure reading. I have a To Be Read list and I’ve recently hit a few of them now that the novel is done.

    Sorry, Rachelle, my major favorite book this year you’ve not only read, but I think you edited(?).
    I just finished Lisa Samson’s Embrace Me. Oh wow. WOW. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for a long time after putting it down. What an amazing writer, what tremendous insight. Her other books top my stack now.

    I also liked Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees and Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees.

    I have a LONG TBR list, and a teetering stack of books on my desk. With a few days off between holidays, I will lock myself away and read.

    (Right. And I ALSO fantasize I’m a hot novelist traveling around doing booksignings and schmoozing with Lisa Samson and Stephen King.)

  33. Nicole on December 19, 2008 at 11:28 AM

    >Demon . . . a memoir, Tosca Lee
    Black Sea Affair, Donald Brown
    Zora and Nicky, Claudia Mair Burney
    Try Dying; Try Darkness, James Scott Bell

    And so many more . . . but their were a few notsogood ones, too.

  34. Patricia W. on December 19, 2008 at 11:23 AM

    >Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man by Claudia Mair Burney. Really good Christian romance with characters that look and sound like me.

    Single Sashimi by Camy Tang. Best of the Sushi series to date. First non-suspense book I read where I was actually aware of the rising stakes, scene by scene, chapter by chapter with a physical reaction.

    But the best was Riven by Jerry Jenkins. For the controversial topic and the non-stereotypical handling of it as well as the masterful writing.

  35. Yvonne on December 19, 2008 at 10:53 AM

    >”Faith of Our Father” by Henry Gordon Green

    This is a simple story of a farmer who lived a life doing right by his family and neighbors. It is written so well, that I actually sobbed over an old horse!

  36. Anonymous on December 19, 2008 at 10:38 AM

    >Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

    My daughter met the author at a book signing in Grand Cayman and presented me with a signed copy on Fathers Day. Cool huh?

    Merry Christmas. Thanks for the blog.

  37. Jennifer White on December 19, 2008 at 10:36 AM

    >My two absolute favorites from this year are “Same Kind of Different as Me” by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. Also, I loved “The Friday Night Knitting Club” by Kate Jacobs.

  38. Melinda Walker on December 19, 2008 at 10:19 AM

    >Loved the Twilight Saga. Stephenie Meyer nailed so many aspects of a great story: opposing worlds collide, incredible emotional tension, vivid story world.

    The Wedding Machine by Beth Webb Hart. Deft portrayal of serious life issues interspersed with lighthearted wedding atmosphere.

  39. Cheryl Barker on December 19, 2008 at 10:09 AM

    >My favorites from this year are not new books, but are definitely worth reading any time:

    Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

  40. Rosslyn Elliott on December 19, 2008 at 9:40 AM

    >A Constant Heart, by Siri Mitchell

    Excellent perspective on what Elizabethan court life was *really* like. Portrays Elizabeth I as a woman made narcissistic and tyrannical by her power, very well-written

  41. Dayle James Arceneaux on December 19, 2008 at 8:57 AM

    >1. Havah by Tosca Lee.
    2. Winter Haven by Athol Dickson.