By Laurie Hertzel

Of the 70 or 80 books I read in 2008, more than a few stand out. Charles Baxter, for sure. A friend sent me "Feast of Love" this summer, and it was so good I started writing down choice sentences, but had to stop because I was pretty much copying out the entire book. It's not a new book, but who among us reads only new books? Not even book page editors.

I loved Ron Rash's "Serena," too -- a modern-day Lady Macbeth whose evil will take your breath away. Blake Morrison's memoir of his father -- again, not a new book, but a powerful one. Tony Horwitz's history of America. Helene Cooper's memoir of growing up in Liberia. Jhumpa Lahiri's short stories. Peter Duffy's histories of the Bielski brothers' heroism, and of the Irish famine.

Do you keep track of what you read? What blew you away last year? What do you wish you could get everyone to read? Shoot me an e-mail at We'll run your recommendations on future Sundays.

Also ...

• "The Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railway: A History of the Lake Superior District's Pioneer Iron Ore Hauler," by John Gaertner, has been published by Indiana University Press (368 pages $49.95). Gaertner, the author of a previous railroad history, lives in Minneapolis.

• "My Father Myself," an essay by Siri Hustvedt, appears in the Winter 2008 issue of Granta, which is on newsstands this week. Hustvedt is originally from Northfield.

Scarletta Press of Minneapolis will publish "Yankee Invasion: A Novel of Mexico City," Ignacio Solares' award-winning 2005 novel. The book, newly translated by Timothy G. Compton, comes out in May.

• "Masterpiece Photographs of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts," by Christian Peterson (128 pages, $39.95), has been published by the University of Minnesota Press. The book includes photographs by Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans and Arthur Rothstein. Peterson is the associate curator of photography at the MIA.