Brandon's best reads of 2008

2008 proved to be a busy year and I didn't read nearly as much as I would have liked. However, though I read fewer books than in 2007, the enjoyment factor was much, much higher. Beside novels, there were some good short stories, though I will complain that I didn't read as many quality short stories this year as in past years.

Starting with Novels. In the MUST READ category I came away with three books that were incredibly engaging reading.

Bar none, these three novels were excellent: The Postman by David Brin, Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card, and Watership Down by Richard Adams.

(1) David Brin's The Postman was a riveting adventure story full of thought provoking questions, wisdom, and the richness of a masterful writer. A heroic story of sacrifice set in post-apocalyptic America--this is speculative fiction at its best.

(2) Orson Scott Card's Ender's Shadow was a gripping read. Cards' characters are fascinating and he digs deep into their psyche's. For those who loved Ender's Game, it was highly enjoyable to see the story unfold threw a new pair of eyes. The Ender's Game series, and all it's companion novels prove to be time and again, excellent sci-fi.

(3) Richard Adam's Watership Down is a fantastical story about Rabbits who go on lupine adventures that are both epic and very personal. There is hardship and tragedy, but there is hope and victory as well. Watership down is a combination of Animal Farm, Lord of the Rings, and The Secret of Nimh. The story of these rabbits will live on in my mind until I am old.

I have only one honorable mention: The Caves of Steel, by Isaac Asimov was a fun sci-fi detective story as told by a master of the genre. Good characters, and an enjoyable mystery.

In the category of Short Story I sadly have only one MUST READ. John Barne's, "Every Hole Is Outlined." This was a deep, moving story set in the far future. The tale of a cargo ship out in deep space and a slave and her apprenticeship to the spacecrafts head mathematician. Ghosts, and brilliant prose haunt this moving piece.

Honorable mentions:
-"The Ghosts," by Lord Dunsany

Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully I'll get to more books and more short stories in 2009. Happy reading!


gzusfreek said...

Mmmm. Sounds intriguing. I'll have to pick them up.
I really liked the movie "The Postman". I never thought about the book. I bet it's great.
I'm reading "The Prophet" by Frank E. Peretti. We'll see, the jury is still out. (of course I'm also reading "When the Sky Fell" Chapter one and two, getting ready for it to hit the shelves! and a friends yet to be published work)but I'd love to start on your list of Must Reads! You have me hooked! Especially: John Barnes', "Every Hole Is Outlined." Thanks for sharing Brandon.

Brandon Barr said...

Hey gzusfreek,

Yeah, "The Postman" became one of my top ten books ever read. Very moving. I haven't seen the movie...if it didn't win ten Oscar's then it's likely not as good as the book!!

I have "The Prophet" sitting on the shelf, let me know how much you like it.


Robert Treskillard said...


I've never read "Ender's Shadow", nor its prequel "Enger's Game", but I would like to at some point. Question ... how much different are the two books? Its hard for me to believe that the plot could be *too* different considering it is the same story told from a different point of view.

I would guess he had to design the plot with this in mind, so that he could achieve very different perspectives, even plot twists based on the two characters.

Glad to hear you liked it, and I will definitely try and pick them up in the future.


Brandon Barr said...


Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow are very different. Told from two different perspectives. There are points where they converge in storyline, but one gets an entirely different POV and different struggles. Both are stand alone books.

I highly recommend them. I haven't finished the Ender's shadow series,

But I certainly recommend the Ender's Game series. "Speaker for the Dead, "Xenocide".

Orangehouse said...

I read and loved Enders Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind, and Ender's Shadow. I haven't read any others either. But your post makes me want to go down to the bookstore and look for it.

I really loved the Biblical references at the end of Ender's Shadow, by the way. Was that Ecclesiastees? I can't remember what it was now (and I had borrowed the book so I can't go back and check). I do remember it made me cry with joy and compassion, however. Great series.

Brandon Barr said...

Hi Orangehouse :)

I actually re-looked the very end of Ender's Shadow up...the passage is from the Gospel of Luke:
"Let us eat, and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found."

I agree. A great series. Thanks so much for stopping by. I checked out your blog too. What a nice family you have.

Christabelle said...

Thank you for your comment, I appreciated it. I've read all of the books in the Ender's series including Ender's Shadow. I find the character of Bean facinating and was intrigued by his interpretation of not only the same events, but of Ender himself. Card is an amazing author, I've enjoyed his novels very much. ~Christabelle

Brandon Barr said...

Hi Christabelle :)
I too find Bean fascinating. Card has a unique gift for getting into his characters minds and dredging the depths of of how they view the world. It's truly what makes his books so good.
Thanks so much for stopping by.