Not all these books were released in 2008, some are actually pretty old. But if I read them in 2008, and they had a lasting effect on me, I put them in the list. The first one in my list is not the best, it is just the first one in my list. All of them were exceptional in their own right and therefore made it on the list. So sit back and have a look at what I’ve been reading.
I think I’ll start with, The Painted House, by John Grisham. I bought this as a used book at our local library here in Büdingen Germany. It was probably a left over from some soldier who moved on to Iraq or back home to the US. Either way, it was in good condition and only € .50.
The Painted House became an instant obsession and I tore through it in just over three days. I read it on the train and in bed at night and it was a warm and fascinating companion. This book is set in the American rural south in the early fifties.
In fifty-two the Arkansas Delta and cotton region are still populated with dirt poor cotton farmers who eke out a dusty existence with barely enough to eat and devoid of all modern facilities. Out houses are still used and running water and electricity are luxuries. America is at war with Korea and the conflict has taken its toll. While most of America is moving into modern homes with television and air-conditioning, time stands still in the Delta. This spellbinding story is told by seven year old Luke Chandler. A small boy who is surprisingly tough and mentally agile, Luke often understands situations and sees nuances we adults take for granted.
It’s picking season and the Chandlers will hire the Hill People (Ozark Mountain folk) and Mexicans to help pick their crop. The Mexicans are late to arrive and the newly hired family from the Ozarks has a couple colorful members. The oldest son of the Hill People is Hank, a huge brute with nasty temper and urge to brawl. Their Daughter, Tally, is slim and sensual and soon becomes a thing of interest to the newly arriving Mexicans. The Mexicans too have their hands full with characters. One of the Mexicans is tall and handsome with a knowing leer. They call him Cowboy and his interest in Tally is obvious. Hank sees this and doesn’t like it at all. The thought of his sister with a Mexican is simply unacceptable.
The Painted House offers and evocative view of a forgotten time and place in America. And as the story unfolds at the Chandler farm and small near-by town, young Luke begins a frightening coming of age adventure that includes murder, honor and luring sexuality.
Check back for whats next on my list of faves.