The Book Shelf - Fiction Read in 2008

I was thinking back over what I've read this past year and landed on a handful of books as worthy of sharing. The list below concentrates on the fiction I picked up in 2008.
  • The Book Thief, Markus Züsak - Written from the point of view of Death, this novel reveals the experiences of a fictional little girl living in WWII Germany. Even though it is listed as youth literature, I believe it is sophisticated enough for adults. On a personal level, while reading I thought of my mother who lived in Austria during WWII and was a similar age to Leisel, the star of the novel.
  • Garden Spells, Sarah Allen Addison - This little novel is a 180° from The Book Thief. It is set in the American South and follows an eccentric and gifted family and their magical garden through a story of self-growth and personal triumph. A quick read, it is fun to escape into.
  • Saving Fish From Drowning, Amy Tan - Taking another sharp turn, this girthy novel about a group of travelers in China and Myanmar (Burma), from the author of The Joy Luck Club (one of my favorite films), is told through the point of view of a friend of the group who has passed away. Bibi Chen, the dearly departed, has the ability to know the thoughts of all of her friends and thus illustrates how two people can have completely different interpretations of the same event. Some of the experiences the group had in their comedy of errors made my skin crawl - and made me happy to be in my cozy bed.
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini - I started off the year with this book. I'd heard a lot of mixed reviews of A Thousand Splendid Suns. I felt that I got a glimpse into the lives of women in Afghanistan. I remember staying up into the wee hours of the morning because I would read something that left me feeling sad or angry and decided to read on until I found something more positive. Of course, when I did, I felt good enough to go on. And so the cycle continued. Personally, I didn't find it easy to read from an emotional sense. In the end, I was very happy that I'd persevered.
Binding theme? I would say that my reading took me on psychological journey into the human condition through the minds of very different women, from a little German girl and Afghan women to Southern belles and Chinese American immigrants.