Your top five reads from 2009

I know some of you keep lists. :slight_smile:

Top 5:

Echoes from the Dead – Johan Theorin, mystery
The Gone-Away World - Nick Harkaway, SF
The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters, psychological thriller
Three Day Road – Joseph Boyden, general fiction
Middlemarch – George Eliot, general fiction

Bottom 1:

Under the Dome – Stephen King. By far the most disappointing book I’ve read in several years, from any author.

…will be back after consulting Goodreads :).

#1- Mr. American by George McDonald Fraser- I got this accidentally at a used bookstore, I was looking for Flashman novels but they only had this. Just a great read- helped by the appearance of an elderly Flashman but the main character is just as interesting.

#2 -Up to #4 in the Flashman Papers- will count those as one- all are equally great, probably enjoyed Flash for Freedom! the best, so far.

3 -*Duma Key *by Stephen King - I was very excited to see Mr. King back to (almost) old form, until I started reading Under The Dome, which I’m having a really hard time getting into.

#4 Duane’s Depressed by Larry McMurtry- I started this series backwards, very sad, real story.

#5- Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell - this one is cheating but I read it recently after a 6 or 7 ? year hiatus and it was like reading a new book, my life experiences had me seeing things very differently and sympathizing with Scarlet more than I ever had before. Since this was the ONLY book I re-read this year, I feel it’s ok to count it- usually I only re-read books, until I discovered the (free) public library and goodreads.

Top 5
Beloved, Toni Morrison
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Jean-Dominique Bauby
Columbine, Dave Cullen
The Quiet American, Graham Greene
The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell

Bottom 3
Terminal Freeze, Lincoln Child
Paths of Glory, Jeffrey Archer
Will You Take Me As I Am: Joni Mitchell’s Blue Period, Michelle Mercer

Just went through the year’s "Whatcha Readin’ " threads, and it looks like this is the top five. In rough order:

  1. Mary Stewart’s Arthurian Trilogy + sequel. Yup, I’m gonna call them one selection, not three (four)

  2. Brother Gardeners by Andrea Wulf. 18th-century gardeners and botanists, and the rise of the British empire.

  3. The Prodigal Tongue by Mark Abley. The current state and future directions of English as a global language.

  4. The Ancestor’s Tale by Richard Dawkins. Natural history from present back to primordial soup.

  5. Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen. Novel, with an unusual format of extensive marginalia by the 12-year-old protagonist.

I just now finished reading Sharp Teeth, by Toby Barlow. Picked it up on a lark at the library, almost put it down when I saw it was written entirely in free verse, and am so glad I didn’t. It was tremendously compelling, possibly the best book I’ve read all year. (Well, I read Great Expectations this summer, so probably not the “best,” but the one I’ve enjoyed the most). Excellent modern-day fantasy!

Other books I’ve read this year and really enjoyed:
2) I’ll put all the Jim Butcher Dresden Novels in one pile. Great fun.
3) A War in Autumn, the third book in Daniel Abraham’s four-book-long series. Depressing, but really moves forward the plot of the series, and is beautifully written.
4) Where the Wild Things Are. Another modern fantasy in free verse, featuring terrifying monsters. I must have a soft spot for those things.
5) Spin. I think I read it this year–a very strong science fiction epic.

I wish I had better things to say about Great Expectations. Generally I aim for one classic novel a year, and often I love 'em: Treasure Island, The Count of Monte Cristo, these were great. But I dislike Dickens’s characterization, and his free hand with coincidences got really tiring, and the book’s cultural allusions were dense enough to make it exhausting to read; I only finished it out of grim determination and a grudging respect for his complex tying up of all loose ends.

I gave 8 books 5 stars on Goodreads this year, but I find that some of the books I find the most memorable (in a good way) are 4 star books. What can I say? I like flaws.

My top five:

  1. The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters: This book just freaked me out, but it has stuck like taffy. It could be dismissed as just a ghost story, but I loved it.

  2. Harry Sue, by Sue Stauffacher: YA but with a realistic bent. I think I sobbed through 3/4 of this book.

  3. Long Live the Queen, by Ellen Emerson White: Third in a series about the daughter of the first female president. They shouldn’t be as incredibly good as they are, but they are.

  4. Graceling/Fire: Two by Kristin Cashore. If you like fantasy, read them.

  5. The Hunger Games/Catching Fire: Two by Suzanne Collins. If you like fantasy OR science-fiction, read them.

I’m not sure if we’re doing top 5 of this all time or just 2009, because Middlemarch is victorian fiction, but aren’t you just glad you got through it? Longest 900 pages of my life.

koeeoaddi, Columbine is a great read. 12 publishing house is genius as usual.

  1. “Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi” by Geoff Dyer
  2. Lydia Davis’s “Collected Stories”
  3. “Let the Great World Spin” by Colum McCann
  4. “Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City” by Greg Grandin
  5. Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s collection “There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby”

Limited to books published in 2009.

Goes to show that I didn’t read the thread before posting. I shoulda known she’d show up on your list, too.

I still have chills!

I meant top five books read in 2009, regardless of when they were published. I really, really liked Middlemarch. I like Victorian fiction and I like big fat books – maybe that helped. I haven’t managed War and Peace yet though – I get bogged down in the battle scenes.

ETA: jsgoddess, The Little Stranger was Stephen King’s favorite book this year as well.

  1. The Last Season by Eric Blehm
  2. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
  3. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  4. Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins
  5. Where Men Win Glory by John Krakauer

Ahh, I thought this was going to be just books published in 2009 as well. That would have been quite different. I see we also don’t have to limit ourselves to fiction:

  1. The Toilers of the Sea – Victor Hugo
  2. The Next 100 Years – George Friedman
  3. Death Note (12 vol. manga collection) – Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
  4. The Hidden – Tobias Hill
  5. Little Brother – Cory Doctorow

Oh, I’m going to cheat and count books that go together as one space on the list.

Top Five

  1. When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead. AWESOME kid lit, if you know a kid who is an avid reader who hasn’t picked this up yet, put it on your holiday shopping list.

  2. The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer* by Patrick Ness, YA science fiction, bring Kleenex.

  3. Columbine* by Dave Cullen, non-fiction. Great writing but very sad.

  4. In the Woods and The Likeness* by Tana French, mystery.

  5. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, dystopian fiction, mesmerizing.

Runners up: Sag Harbor*, by Colson Whitehead and The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet* by Reif Larson.

Bottom Three:

  1. Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa*, by R.A. Scotti. Interesting topic, stupid writing style.

  2. They Did It with Love by Kate Morgenroth, mystery, almost creepy in how vapid it was.

  3. Ghostgirl, by Tonya Hurley. Awful YA fiction, so cringy because it tried too hard.

  • = published in 2009
  1. For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
  2. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry
  3. It Can’t Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis
  4. The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  5. Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates

The first three were easy, but the last two were more difficult to choose. Honorable mention goes to Love is Eternal by Irving Stone, Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, in no particular order. I also excluded audio books from my list. The best audio book I listened to this year was Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, followed by Jane Austen’s Lady Susan. I read a lot of really good books this year!

The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio – I was surprised by this one; it was truly touching

The Book Thief – the book gives away the ending in the middle and I still bawled .But what can you expect from a book narrated by Death?

The Thirteenth Tale – modern gothic tale for those who pine for gothic tales

For Her Own Good – Anyone who thinks feminism is a crock needs to read this. What the medical profession has done to women in the past (and present) is positively revolting. (“Been giving your husband lip? Put two leeches on your cervix and call me in the morning!”)

The Road – Harrowing, desolate, haunting

2009 was a bad year for my reading habits. I think I put down more stuff than I finished. Three of the top five are vampire novels for cripes sake.

Top 5

  1. Already Dead by Charlie Huston
    A vampire PI in a neo-noir setting. Awesome!

  2. The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
    Vampires are inhuman monsters that kill people while a CDC guy tries to stop the plague. Awesome!

  3. Contagious by Scott Sigler
    Alien-infested humans are inhuman monsters that kill people while a CDC guy tries to stop the plague. Awesome!

  4. **The Guinea Pig Diaries **by A.J. Jacobs
    AJ Jacobs is my hero for subjecting himself to all the weird experiments he does.

  5. No Dominion by Charlie Huston
    A vampire PI in a neo-noir setting. Awesome!

Bottom 5
5. Darwin Awards: Next Evolution by Wendy Northcutt
They ran out of creative deaths. Jim Bob got drunk and hit a tree doesn’t make very compelling reading.

  1. One Second After by William Forstchen
    An EMP pulse shuts down all electronics in the US and half the population turns into raping savages one second after. Only the conservative college professor can save them… :rolleyes:

  2. The Colorado Kid by Stephen King
    Just boring

  3. Relentless by Dean Koontz
    A killer critic is backed by the US government to kill writers who have a sense of humor. OK… :rolleyes: again

  4. Reading the OED by Ammon Shea
    Reading a book about a guy reading the dictionary is boring. Or rather, a guy who’d read the dictionary for fun is a terrible storyteller, who knew?

Great thread! I love finding new books to read.

  1. Housekeeping - Marilynne Robinson. Sometimes I feel like certain books were written for me but no one else would really appreciate them. With this book, I felt that it was written for me and that everyone who reads it must absolutely love it.
  2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami. Super weird and super good.
  3. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens. I’ve owned this book forever, but it’s the thickest book on the shelf and I kept putting off reading it. I’m glad I finally did - it’s probably my favorite novel by Dickens (that I’ve read so far, anyway).
  4. The Other - David Guterson. Much better than Snow Falling on Cedars, which was also a great book.
  5. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency - Alexander McCall Smith. Looking forward to reading the rest of these. Well written, and heartwarming without being sappy at all.

Joe Hill - Wallace Stegner. Boring, and the worst book I’ve read of his. (Angle of Repose was the best book I read last year.)
The Tenderness of Wolves - Stef Penney. My aunt loved it and gave it to me, but I couldn’t even get through it. I got a strong sense of the author trying too hard. The narrative voice jumps from character to character and from first-person to third, which I found irritating. Heavy-handed and plot driven to the exclusion of character development (admittedly, I only got half way through).
Kafka’s Curse - Achmat Dangor. I don’t even remember what this was about. At all.
Drowning Ruth - Christina Schwarz. Another one of my aunt’s recommendations. I slogged through it, but it was pretty bad. If a book’s going to be centered around a secret, that secret had better be pretty darn good. Nope.

wow, really? I thought there was a definite degree of self-absorption in this one, but still I liked the unabashedly personal angle of it. I was just disappointed that she more or less skipped over Joni’s entire body of jazz-infused music (though in view of the title, I guess that makes sense).

Slavoj Zizek - In Defense of Lost Causes
Richard Ford - The Lay of the Land
J.M. Coetzee - Summertime (read this in a single evening - one of the most powerful reading experiences I’ve ever had)
Eugene O’Neill - Long Day’s Journey into Night (why does no one read him anymore? this one was just incredible)
Richard Brody - Everything Is Cinema: the Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard

I also plunged into the works of William Bronk, Gabriel Josipovici, and George Steiner, but all their works are so excellent I’d have a hard time naming just one from each.