The Believer’s 2009 Reader Survey: (What Some Jokers Thought Were) The Best Books of 2008


The new issue of The Believer showed up in my overstuffed mailbox today. It’s the film issue, featuring a DVD of short films about Jean-Luc Goddard’s travels in the U.S. My second favorite Jean-Luc! (Seriously, Alphaville is great, but it’s no ST:TNG). The issue also features The Believer‘s annual reader survey. Here are the results, from their website, with our parenthetical thoughts and links.


  1. 2666—Roberto Bolaño (This seems pretty obvious. Go, read it, now. Not that awards mater, but it also just won the National Book Critics Circle Award for best fiction).
  2. Unlucky Lucky Days—Daniel Grandbois
  3. Lush Life—Richard Price (After hearing a great interview with Price on NPR, I really wanted to read this book–and I really don’t care for detective fiction. And I never got into The Wire. I guess it’s not really genre fiction though. I guess I should read it).
  4. The Lazarus Project—Aleksandar Hemon
  5. Netherland—Joseph O’Neill (Heard lots of good things about this, but neglected to solicit a copy).
  6. Vacation—Deb Olin Unferth (Haven’t read it. Like her short stories in McSweeney’s though).
  7. Unaccustomed Earth—Jhumpa Lahiri (Unsolicited promo copy of the new trade paperback edition showed up in the mail a few days ago. I will try to read it).
  8. Arkansas—John Brandon
  9. A Mercy—Toni Morrison (This topped my best of 2008 list only because I hadn’t read 2666 yet–to be fair, however, they’re both great, totally different books, so no real reason why one should top another).
  10. Indignation—Philip Roth (Jesus. Do people still read Philip Roth. Who knew?)
  11. Death with Interruptions—José Saramago
  12. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle—David Wroblewski
  13. Bottomless Belly Button—Dash Shaw
  14. A Heaven of Others—Joshua Cohen
  15. So Brave, Young, and Handsome—Leif Enger
  16. How the Dead Dream—Lydia Millet
  17. Personal Days—Ed Park
  18. A Fraction of the Whole—Steve Toltz
  19. The Drop Edge of Yonder—Rudolph Wurlitzer
  20. Ghosts of Chicago—John McNally (I haven’t read or heard of any of these. Jesus, what am I supposed to do, read all day?)

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