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The Observer's picks for best of 2008: Books

Elizabeth Fox

Issue date: 12/5/08 Section: Focus
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2008 was definitely a hit or miss year in books. We had disappointments from bestselling authors on all ends, from Palahniuk's horribly provocative Snuff to Klosterman's lukewarm Downtown Owl. While some familiar authors managed to hold the attention of their audiences, lesser-knowns emerged from what appeared to be nowhere, only to publish books with apt detail, thorough analyses, and just the right amount of sardonic wit. This trend of progression has proven positive, and here are the top 10 books of the year to justify the change.



10. A Mercy by Toni Morrison

Prize-winning, African-American laureate Toni Morrison continues her string of emotionally striking fiction with A Mercy, a novel about the struggles of women, servants, African-Americans, and Native Americans during the course of the 17th century. Morrison's unwavering trademark narrative takes full flight and engrosses the reader in the strife of four abandoned women in a world of slavery and prejudice.



9. Lush Life: A Novel by Richard Price

Though this pick is seemingly aimless and without plot, Richard Price successfully delves into the depths of urban class struggle with Lush Life. It departs from his other works in location, tone, and character communication - instead of a fictional town in New Jersey, this work is set in Manhattan, the story told through interactions between simple people with simple struggles. This does not mean his work is unorganized or inept; in fact, it's what makes Price the master of American crime fiction, and Lush Life one of the top novels of the year.



8. The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hajdu

Armed with unconventional humor and a decent understanding of popular culture, critic David Hajdu ventures into the comic book scare of the 1950s. When McCarthyism was at its zenith, famed superheroes like Batman and Superman were held accountable for poisoning America's youth with ultraviolence, and more obscure titles became known for their blatant innuendo and vulgarity. Hajdu's analysis of this laughable threat to our nation's moral fabric proves interesting (and relevant) in the form of eloquent wit, fun facts, and an awesome cover.
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In This Issue

News

  • Black History Month luncheon
  • Empowered by credit cards
  • Have you heard about: Engineers Without Borders?
  • Integrity Week to kick off
  • Robert Petit lecture elucidates Cambodia's "killing fields"
  • Student State of the University Address looks for improvement
  • Survey results provide new details of SAGES progress
  • Tuition increase scaled back amid tough times

Sports

  • A strong finish, finally
  • Browns fans should rethink rivalry
  • Dukes, Gardella place at Wheaton Invitational
  • Hockey: Against Pitt-Greensburg, third period and power play problems
  • Spartan Spotlight: Bryan Erce
  • Swimmers get wins in last meet before conferences
  • Throwback Weekend: Old-school jerseys are a growing trend
  • Track: Case, Mellon go head-to-head in first dual
  • Women's Basketball: Henry's last-second layup lifts Spartans

Fun Page

  • Crossword Answers
  • Jumble Answers
  • Sudoku Answers

Opinion

  • Editorial: Modest tuition hike shows consideration
  • Engineering solutions to climate change not ideal, but worth studying
  • Letter to the editor: Putting life on hold for inauguration is over the top
  • You don't have to hate Valentine's Day: expand your options

Focus

  • Alternative girl band makes its Cleveland debut
  • Case Men's Glee Club sings their hearts out for another year
  • Fantasies come true
  • Film based on self-help book falls flat, despite star-studded cast
  • Listen Up
  • Local band makes name for itself, even across the Atlantic
  • Rocker teaches how to make a band work in new book
  • The Buzz
  • The Secret Ingredient: Popcorn Paradise
  • The Spartan guide to style: Preparing to spring forward
  • The Worst Case Scenario: Saving the economy
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