A Mixed Meters tradition now in its third year. Read about 2007 & 2006. Remember, this is not about what was new in 2008, only about what was new TO ME.
1. The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon. First time in my life I've ever finished a novel and immediately flipped back to page one to read it again, cover to cover. An elegantly written, noirish alternate-history murder mystery about a loser Jewish police detective named Meyer Landsman whose supervisor is his ex-wife. (I'd like to start the rumor that Meyer will be played by Mel Gibson in the projected Coen Brothers movie.)
2. The Zappa Album by Ensemble Ambrosius. Yes, a CD of music by Frank Zappa performed by an early music ensemble. Seven Finnish musicians who get the coveted "thinking outside the box" award for this one. Released in 2000 after Frank's death. Try to imagine him saying "The lute needs to be louder to balance the oboe da caccia."
3. Keybreeze. A free computer utility that will make Windows more friendly to 10-fingered users. If you're a good typist and are lumbered with a Bill Gates' OS, stop reading this post now and go install Keybreeze.
4. Bodum Double-Walled Insulated Glassware Delicate, yes. But they'll keep your cold drinks cold fantastically long, even sitting under hot desk lamps and near computer monitors, like mine do. They keep warm things warm longer too - just not as well.
5. Omron HJ-112 Pocket Pedometer I'll write more about this next month. But for now, suffice it to say, this pedometer actually works even while flopping around in my pocket. I didn't think that was possible.
6. Young J. Edgar, Hoover, the Red Scare, and the Assault on Civil Liberties, by Kenneth D. Ackerman.
7. The Rest Is Noise, by Alex Ross
8. The shrimp burrito at La Estrella, on Orange Grove Blvd. in Pasadena
9. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay another novel by Michael Chabon which I wouldn't have read if #1 (above) hadn't been so good. Glad I did. You'll like it too, especially if you like comic books - which I don't.
10. Matter by Iain M. Banks. In my world, a new science fiction novel by Iain M. Banks is always cause for rejoicing. This one, about an artificial planet with concentric levels each home to a different species (just like in an apartment building), too. I wrote about another Banks' novel here.
Bonus Item: My worst waste of time of 2008 - I couldn't finish it. This Is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin.
The pictures in this post: shots I liked which aren't good enough for Mixed Messages. Still, I couldn't bring myself to toss them. They enlarge if you tickle them with your mouse.