Best Page Turning Reads of 2008

So lets say you want to give a gift that will REALLY grab someone’s attention.

Well, no guarantees here.

But these books, I simply could not put down. I read each book in two days or less, spending many precious hours lounging upon my couch or staying up too late in bed. Amazon links are found under the title!

Books I Just Couldn’t Stop Reading Until My Eyes Began To Burn

I. Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

Heartbreaking memoir from the father of a drug-addicted son. Will he recover or won’t he? Will the family reconcile or won’t they? Really pulls on all your emotional strings.

Buy this for: anyone, really. I’d say over-the-age-of-17, but my 15-year-old little sister enjoyed it, so who knows . Bonus: pair this with Tweak, the son’s young adult memoir, for the full effect of the story.

II. Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Steve Harmon is in jail, awaiting a trial for accomplice to a murder. Weeks before, he was a living in Harlem but aiming for college, film school to be exact. So it’s only natural that he tell his story as a screenplay. You’ll be madly flipping pages to find out if Steve is innocent or guilty, or more operatively, if he’ll be convicted or not.

Buy this for: teenaged boys (tough to shop for, I know), those new to the YA bandwagon who may have missed this one, or any budding filmmakers in your immediate family. Check YouTube; I bet they are out there 🙂

III. An Inconvenient Book by Glenn Beck

TV personality waxes poetic about American Politics and Life. Not that I’m actually endorsing the content of this book (my opinions can be found here and here), but I can’t deny that I ate this book up like a bag of candy. Stupid? Perhaps. Fun? Yes.

Buy this for: your conservative Dad (doesn’t everyone have one of those?) or any other relative that likes to argue politics but doesn’t necessarily revere the power of a good citation. Or maybe, if you’re into irony, wrap it up for your best liberal friend who will enjoy both dissecting and ridiculing Beck’s occasionally silly arguments.

IV. the dead and the gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Alex Morales is living in New York City, going to a ritzy Catholic school while his parents work overtime and his two preteen sisters snatch up all the attention. This book is what happens to Alex and his family when an apocalypse of sorts arrives. You don’t have to read Life As We Knew It to appreciate this book, but without the background, I’m not sure I would have swallowed this whole book down in less than 24 hours. Be prepared to have the living daylights frightened out of you.

Buy this for: fans of I Am Legend, older teenaged boys or girls, or anyone who won’t be tempted to build an underground emergency shelter in the backyard. Or maybe people who would. Your call.

V. Complications by Atul Gawande

Who said a National Book Award finalist can’t be compulsively readable? I read Better first, so by the time I hit this one I was already running. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and a writer, gives you an inside look at what being a medical professional really entails. You’ll learn so much about medicine and hospitals and your own body that you’ll be popping out random facts and stories for weeks.

Buy this for: Non-Fiction nuts, any one who’s cried over an episode of ER or Gray’s Anatomy, or an added complement to that season of House, M.D. you picked up on Black Friday for 8 dollars.

VI. Lessons From A Dead Girl by Jo Knowles

Leah and Lainey are best friends. But Leah isn’t exactly the kind of girl you want to be best friends with. But even once Leah has left Lainey behind to join the popular crowd, Lainey still finds herself victim of Leah’s destructive nature. This is a psychologically intense book, and one you’ll be waiting and waiting for everything to just Turn Out Okay Already. This one hooks you in Big Time.

Buy this for: 14-16 year-old-girls who haven’t yet found their spot in the world, fans of Sara Zarr’s Story of a Girl, or adults out there who read Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters over and over and over again. Or am I the only one who does that….

VII. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Christopher McCandless was a privileged boy, freshly graduated from college. He told his parents he was setting out onto the road for the summer, but didn’t tell them he wasn’t planning on coming back in a timely fashion. Months later, his rapidly decomposing body was found in an abandoned bus in the Alaskan wilderness. Jon Krakauer… more like Jon Crack-eur. Ha-ha. I know, I’m hilarious. Anyway, this is a brutal look at the history and psychology of Christopher, and other boys like him who decide that society is just a pile of baloney. An unforunately non-fiction book. But Jon Krakauer has this softly journalistic tone that makes whatever side stories or minute details he includes seem like a scrap of a picture he’s slowly showing you. I picked up this book at about 10 in the morning. I read and read and read until the last page was turned, before 10 at night.

Buy this for: December college grads, fans of Henry David Thoreau who dream of moving out to a cabin in the woods, or fans of the movie version who want to get the deeper story behind this troubling turn of events.


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