Booklist's Top of the List

About the Booklist's Top of the List
Every January, Booklist publishes Editors’ Choice: lists of the best books, databases, video/DVDs, and audiobooks of the past year. From these lists, we further select what we call the Top of the List: the single best title in eight categories—adult fiction, adult nonfiction, youth fiction, youth nonfiction, youth picture book, reference source, video/DVD, and audiobook.

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2008 Selection(s)

Adult Nonfiction

Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood. By Mark Harris. Penguin, $27.95 (9781594201523).


“Add Mark Harris to the short short list of film writers who can tell a story. And what a story it is! Harris uses the Academy Award nominations for Best Picture of 1967 (Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and Doctor Doolittle) as the lens through which to view the cultural revolution of the late 1960s as it affected the movies.”
—Bill Ott, Booklist, January 1 & 15, 2008

Adult Fiction

Lush Life. By Richard Price. Farrar, $26 (9780374299255).

“Lush Life is deceptively simple. On New York’s gentrifying Lower East Side, two boys from the projects hold up three men, killing one. Two cops investigate. But Price’s investigation is no mere police procedural, scouring away layers of self-defense in all of his vividly drawn characters. Such is his talent that we care about them all equally.”
—Keir Graff, Booklist, December 1, 2007

Youth Fiction

Little Audrey. By Ruth White. Farrar, $16 (9780374345808).

“Based on incidents from her own life and told in the voice of her older sister, White offers a heartfelt story of what it’s like to be poor, hungry, and sometimes happy. It’s 1948, and Audrey lives in a Virginia coal-mining camp. The first-person narrative allows readers to see clearly the real people who inhabit this world and how hunger or the fear of it taints everything.”
—Ilene Cooper, Booklist, September 1, 2008

Youth Nonfiction

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball. By Kadir Nelson. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Hyperion/Jump at the Sun, $18.99 (9780786808328).

“The narrative showcases the pride and camaraderie of the Negro Leagues. . . . If the story is the pitch, though, it’s the artwork that blasts the book into the stands. Nelson often works from a straight-on vantage point, as if the players took time out of the action to peer at the viewer from history.”
—Ian Chipman, Booklist, February 1, 2008

Youth Picture Book

The House in the Night. By Susan Marie Swanson. Illustrated by Beth Krommes. Houghton, $16 (9780618862443).

“The art is spectacular. Executed in scratchboard decorated in droplets of gold, Krommes’ illustrations expand on Swanson’s reassuring story (inspired by a nursery rhyme) to create a world as cozy inside the house as it is majestic outside. A beautiful piece of bookmaking that will delight both parents and children.”
—Ilene Cooper, Booklist, April 15, 2008


Kamp Katrina. Carnivalesque, DVD, $19.99.

“Kamp Katrina smartly avoids retelling the events of the hurricane or railing against government ineptitude. Ms. Pearl and her husband’s efforts are a story told best at ground level in unflinching detail, devoid of nostalgia, through beautifully bleak—at times psychedelic—images as the couple attempts to create order and raise humanity in a neighborless neighborhood. Powerful viewing.”
—Elliot Mandel, Booklist, October 1, 2008


The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. By David Wroblewski. Read by Richard Poe. Recorded Books, CD, $123.75 (9781436149587).

“Poe’s excellent narration keeps listeners interested in this compelling novel. When Edgar is signing, Poe uses a flat, breathy inflection that seems just right for the intelligent boy, who has lots of thoughts but no spoken words. [Poe] is particularly good reflecting Edgar’s profound grief, mounting anger, and frustration when his uncle tries to take his father’s place.”
—Laurie Hartshorn, Booklist, December 15, 2008

Reference Source

African American National Biography. Edited by Henry Louis Gates and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. Oxford, $795 (9780195160192).

“African American National Biography records the contributions and achievements of more than 4,000 African Americans—slaves, architects, entertainers, dentists, political leaders, artists, poets, and activists. Just paging through the volumes offers some fascinating discoveries along with the essays on well-known figures. A major new standard reference work that most libraries of any size will want to have.”
—Margaret Power, Booklist, June 1 & 15, 2008