The New York Times' critics whittled down its list of 100 Best Books of 2008 to just 10 and here they are.
Steven Millhauser - Thirteen StoriesNon-fiction :
Toni Morrison - A Mercy
Joseph O’Neill - Netherland
Roberto Bolaño -2666
Jhumpa Lahiri - Unaccustomed Earth
Jane Mayer - The Dark Side : The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American IdealsIt's a pretty exciting list and all the books are described on the website, and there are links in each case to first chapters - so go explore!
Dexter Filkins - The Forever War
Julian Barnes - Nothing to Be Frightened Of
Drew Gilpin Faust - This Republic of Suffering : Death and the American Civil War
Patrick French - The World is What it Is : The Authorized Biography of V. S. Naipaul