The books of 2008

January 9, 2009

I have always been an avid reader.  One of my worries when we moved to Mexico was that I would struggle to find enough quality reading material to satisfy me.  I used several strategies to make sure I always had enough to read.

I ordered from Amazon.  I used our local English library.  I traded with friends.  I bought books (a suitcase full) when I went to the US in July.  I bought books at Sandi Books in Guadalajara.  I downloaded audio books and e-books from BitTorrent sites.  I bought books online from Amate Books.  And last, but probably not least, I bought books every time I passed through the airport!

I’ve mentioned before that I keep track of what I’m reading, mostly so that I can print out the list once in a while and take it with me when I go to the library or shopping.  I am terrible at standing at the bookshelves saying to myself “Who was the author of that book I read last month that was set in India?”  I can guarantee I will never remember unless I have a list.

I read 73 books last year.  The number kind of shocked me as it seemed to me I’d been knitting and going to the beach and other things quite a bit!

So, here are my top 10 books of 2008, if you are interested: (not in any order, that would be just tooooo hard!)  Sorry about the alignment below, it was a pain…

A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

I love anything and everything by Haruki Murakami.  His books are strange and thoughtful and interesting
and weird.  And smart.And always, always stay with you a long time.


Memoir from Antproof Case by Mark Helprin

This story was very strange.  A man has an intense aversion to coffee…that’s one part of the story – and another is the memoir that he writes to his wife’s son.


Animal, Vegetable, Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver

I love all of her books…and I read several this year.  This book stands out because of my interest in
food and gardening.  She and her family moved to a small rural property and grew all their own
food or bought it from their neighbors.   It started me thinking about where exactly my food comes
from now that I live in Mazatlan.


Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

These short stories are wonderful and complete.   Read them.

Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

A 900 page book of a family where the people really pull you in.  A book that you will carry
with you and read every second you can.


Typical American by Gish Jen

A story about Chinese immigrants in America.  But that really doesn’t describe it.
An engrossing, funny, and painful read.


Fair Warning by Robert Olen Butler

He is one of my favorite authors, up there with Haruki Murakami and Tim Winton.  This book, about the auction world, has a number of twists and really makes you think.  I think my two favorite books of his though are Good Scent from a Strange Mountain and Tabloid Dreams.


The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

I have even more confidence now that I’ve read this book that he is the right man for the job of
President.  He is smart, considerate, thoughtful, and able to see all sides of a problem and bring
people together with a solution.  I am so glad I got to know him better.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

This mystery, set in Sweden, was a real surprise.  I bought this in Guadalajara and had no expectations.  But it is a thoughtful, interesting mystery that I would highly recommend.


The Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

His books are always surprising.  This one will change the way you think about time and how we
perceive the world.

So there you have it.  I’d love to hear what your favorite books were.

Share and Enjoy !

More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in San Antonio Tlayacapan, Jalisco after 11 years in Mazatlán, México.

    1. Great Posts! I had every intention of reading more in MX but alas my crazy commuting schedule has not given the down time I had anticpated.

      I should post everything my 8 year old reads! He is the one getting to read zillions of books and he loves every minute. He is on the Artemis Fowl series right now.

      I did just read “My Father’s Paradise A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdisg Irag” by Areil Sabar. GREAT READ!

    1. American Mommy, Thanks for the recommendation, I keep a list of books I want to read, too!

      It is wonderful that your kids are readers. In my opinion it is one of the biggest gifts that you can give your children.

    1. Blogging and knitting seem to eat up all of my free time. B and L are avid readers and always have their noses in a book. Since you like gardening, I think you would enjoy this website:

      Actually it’s a blog I have been reading for about a year. Very interesting.

    1. Nancy, I LOVE to read also but the only place I buy books is at the Goodwill or Salvation Army – $1 a book. Have you read “Three Cups of Tea” – I read it last summer, but it is STILL with me.
      I’m blessed to have friends to save and give me books when I come up to the States so I never run out. I have NO idea how many I read last year……..maybe I should attempt to keep track.
      I’ve always been an avid reader – it used to drive my mother nuts! I’m grateful that my children and now grandchildren are avid readers also. It so opens the world to us, don’t you think?

    1. Given that English books in Mexico are a bit more expensive, perhaps you should look into an e-reader such as the Kindle or Sony. Download the e-book to your computer and then to the reader. You need a US address and a US credit card to buy the e-reader and the books, but can download anywhere. Check the Kindle store on Amazon to see if the variety of books there appeal to you. Thanks for the interesting blog!

    1. Isla Gringo, Thanks for the gardening website, it’ll be diving in more thoroughly this afternoon!

      Babs, Our library here in Mazatlan is very good, and they have book sales (5 pesos) a few times a year. There’s one used bookstore but most of his books are beach reading kind of books. I have only gone back to the US once since we moved here in Sept 2007 so Goodwill hasn’t been an option for me. But I feel like I’m doing pretty well. Next time we’re in Mexico City I’ll go to the big bookstore there.

      Tim, Both Paul and I are interested in the Kindle, but maybe in its next generation. One problem here for downloading is that they know your ip address is in Mexico. We have tried to download movies at Amazon or do things like watch American TV from the network websites, and always get turned away because they know we are in Mexico. (We have US address & credit card) But we recently heard about, which is a “cloaking device” that makes it appear you have a Texas ip address. So maybe that will help.

    1. Hi Nancy,
      You can download contents of the Kindle store anywhere in the world as long as you have internet connection and a USB cable to your Kindle. Read the FAQ under “Can I use Kindle Outside the Wireless Service Area”.
      The only thing you can’t get this way is the ability to sample the books. That is only done directly to the Kindle via wireless delivery. I have used it in Mexico, France, and Italy. It took longer to type this than it does to load onto your Kindle via computer.


    1. I gave my husband a kindle for Christmas just for Mexico trips. It is always hard for me to carry a suitcase full of books down there. You really shouls look into getting one, it is awesome. Holds 250 books as it comes. You can check out my blog at . I read your blog all the time and look forward to living in Mexico full time.

    1. Nancy,

      Although you are correct that most of my books are the mass market paperback books (although you say you buy in every airport you pass through), a high percentage of the books in the local English-language membership library are ones I donated for lack of shelf space for the larger size paperbacks and hardbacks, so at any given time I may have exactly what you are looking for. Stop by from time to time and check us out.

      I make no pretense of being a full-service bookstore such as Sandi in Guadalajara. There just isn’t enough English-reading population here in Mazatlán…YET.

      If your interest is in quality books, you should get a copy of ‘Gods, Gachupines and Gringos: A People’s History of Mexico’ by Richard Grabman. This very new book is the first ever non-academic history of México in English and really, the first complete history of México to be published in many, many years. It’s getting rave reviews. It is published by my publishing company, Editorial Mazatlán (Mazatlán Publishing Co.), and it is now (FINALLY) on sale at Mazatlán Book & Coffee Company. Soon it will be featured in all of the English-language bookstores in México.

      Also, you CAN get new books in México at a better price than from Amazon, although the shipping is sometimes a few days slower, by buying from Barnes and Nobel or Powell’s Books.

      David Bodwell
      Mazatlán Book & Coffee Company
      Editorial Mazatlán

    1. David, It’s nice that you donate to the Library, it is really a great asset to the community. I’ve bought books from you in the past, I have just not had very regular luck finding books I hadn’t read there!

      I have been wanting to get a copy of Richard’s book, I will be come by sometime this week, I hope the parking place gods are watching out for me.

      We all have our bookstore preferences, I am an Amazon girl, maybe that’s because I’m from Seattle, who knows. But I will buy an interesting book anywhere, for sure.

      Tim & All, Now that the Kindle 2.0 is out I might have to look into that a little more seriously. But you can buy a lot of books for $350.00, and share them with friends when you’re done with them.

      I just got an order in the mail from Amazon today that includes a knitting book “French Girl Knits”, Haruki Murakami’s “What I talk about when I talk about running”, Wallace Lamb’s new book “The Hour I first believed”, Stephanie Kallos’s second book “Sing them Home”, and David Lida’s latest book on Mexico City “First stop in the New World.” I am so excited I hardly know where to start!

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