Saturday, December 06, 2008

Best-Loved Books of 2008, #6: Favorite nonfiction collection by a single author

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Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon (McSweeney's)
(Bonus: Top 5 favorite Book Nerd author AND
Book design of your wildest dreams!)

Some of these essays are mere autobiographical fillips; some are semi-sinister trickster tales that mix truth and lies; some are heady considerations of the successes and failings of contemporary literature. All are written with Chabon’s unparalleled wit and richness of language, and engage his favorite themes of genre fiction and Jewishness. Buy it now, if only to posesses the astonishingly complex and beautiful book design by cartoonist Jordan Crane; once this print run is gone it’ll be a plain old book again, like magic ending after the stroke of midnight.

Also, if you're looking to gift (or for some winter vacation reading of your own), one of my favorite books of last year is a Chabon novel now out in paperback. Gentlemen of the Road is the quintessential boys' adventure tale: mysterious strangers, pitched odds, sword battles, captures, rescues, romance (but not too much), and the fate of an empire. Because it's Chabon, the subtext is also rich and freighted, and the characterization far better than it need be. And the afterword, about home, adventure, and storytelling, is one of my favorite pieces of nonfiction of the past few years -- it makes me think and cry, a killer combination. Buy it for your favorite boy, your favorite adventurer, or your favorite reader -- can't lose.

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