Monday, December 28, 2009

Top Ten Books of 2009

It's no secret that I love to read. I am an avid reader. Have been since I was a wee lass. In fact, I have a hard time going to sleep if I don't read at least a few pages after I lay down each night. I just love the way a good book can suck you down into its world. I suppose I am an escapist.

I do believe in the transformative power of literature. Of it's ability to lift us up, transport us, transfix us. To scare us silly. And perhaps most importantly, to bring us joy.

The following books were those that most inspired me in 2009.

1. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak: Told from the perspective of Death, this is the wonderful, sad story of a young girl in WWII Germany. I loved this book. I cried, happy and sad tears.

2. Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman: (genre: Supernatural) After he saves a young woman, Richard Mayhew finds himself thrust into a fantastic world under London. In a mad chase to find the murderers of the young woman's family, he finds himself as well. I loved this book! LOVED. IT.

3. Water For Elephants - Sara Gruen: (genre: Fiction) Great book. When I checked it out, the librarian said I would cry. Well, I didn't, but I can see why he (I know, right?!) would say that. It was touching and vivid, a taste of circus life in the 30s. As well as the sadness and frustration of an old man living in a retirement home.

4. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins: (genre: Young Adult/Fiction) The sequel to The Hunger Games. I loved that book and this one did not let me down. It kept me riveted from the get go, wondering what was going to happen and surprised at plot twists. Now, the torture of waiting for the third (and I hope final) book to come out. Check out my full review at Blissfully Domestic.

5. The Guernsay Literary and Potato Peel Society - Mary Ann Shafer: (genre: Historical Fiction) A truly wonderful book. Told through letters, this book is engaging and emotional. I was reading it on the treadmill when I got to a certain part (when you read it, you'll know where I'm talking about) and I started crying. At the gym. It's that good.

6. The Motion of the Ocean - Janna Cawrse Esarey: (genre: Non-fiction/Memoire) A couple makes a trans-pacific journey on their sailboat discovering more than just how to navigate an ocean. An engrossing and beautifully written book. Check out my full review at Blissfully Domestic.

7. The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman: (genre: Young Adult) The tale of a young boy who after being orphaned as a toddler is raised by the ghostly inhabitants of a local graveyard. A beautiful and well written tale.

8. This Is Where I Leave You - Jonathon Tropper: (genre: Fiction) Shortly after separating from his wife, Judd Foxman's father dies. As a last wish, his father requested that his wife and four children sit shiva, a Jewish tradition where the family stays in the family home to mourn the dead for seven days. Not an easy task given just how dysfunctional the Foxman family is. At times painfully graphic, this novel is intelligent and heartbreaking and real.

9. The Maze Runner - James Dashner: (genre: Fiction, Young Adult) When he awakens at the bottom of a black hole with faces looking down at him from the only opening at the top, Thomas has no idea what has happened or what to expect. What he finds is that he has been placed among a group of boys living in a compound at the center of a maze and all he wants is out.

10. How I Became a Famous Novelist - Steve Hely: (genre: Fiction) After being fired from his shady job writing college entrance essays, Pete decides he'll find fame and fortune by writing a novel. A charming faux-memoire that kept me thoroughly entertained and questioning my own thoughts on popular fiction.

11. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon: (genre: Fiction, Supernatural, Mystery) Daniel finds a book written by an unknown author when he is 10. As he grows older, a search for the author leads him on the chase of a decades old love story.

12. At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream - Wade Rouse: (genre: Memoire, Comedy) Fabulous gay man drags his equally fabulous boyfriend to a remote Michigan cabin to find his inner Thoreau. Funny, touching, and insightful.

13. Life As We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer: (genre: Young Adult) The diary of a young girl's experience after the moon is struck by a meteor, causing massive environmental backlash on Earth. I loved this book!

Alright, so not all of these were published in 2009. But that is when I read them, and since this is my blog, they're the top books of 2009. Also, there are 13 books on my list. Cause I couldn't narrow it down to 10. Bite me.


  1. Oooo...I have an almost identical post that I am working on right now. Well...there are different books on my list...and mine is also of the books I read this year vs when they came out.

    Did you know that the third in the "Life as we knew it" series comes out in February...I think it's Feb. Did you read "The dead and the gone?" I didn't like it as's a companion piece rather than a sequel...but it's much bleaker. The third evidently ties the two together.

  2. So many from your list I have yet to read!!! Thanks for this, and I do forgive you for not putting any of the Twilight books on here! (heehee...;)) From your list, I've only read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and I loved it... I'm about to start Water For Elephants, I've heard it's great!

  3. Someday - I'm gonna make your list.

  4. Wow. I'm impressed that you read all that in a year. I love to leisure read, but I just can't find time after all the professional reading and time sucking of my career-by-a-thread. I read ONE book in the leisure category in 2009, and even then I did it reluctantly. People kept bringing it up to me, so finally I read the thing myself. It took me SIX months, but I finished it.

    I have, however, read several books out loud to my daughter in the past year, so perhaps those count? Charlie and the Chocolate Factory followed by the Great Glass Elevator. Henry Huggins. The first four Little House books (we'll finish all nine before we're done--she loves these books!). Charlotte's Web. Those are just a few of what we covered this year, so maybe that's not so bad after all?

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  5. now I have a new list to add to my kindle! my two favorites for 2009 were
    The Help

    The Forgotten Garden

  6. I call myself a reader but than I look at this list and realize I've only read ONE book on here. That is not cool.

    What's really not cool is that I haven't read anything since October because I've been so busy. This will be rectified. I swear it.

  7. I'm right with you, sister! I love to read; always have to have a book to read, no matter how busy life is.

    I'm reading the Zion Covenant series by Bodie and Brock Thoene right now; set in 1938 in Vienna and Prague; lots of history, religion, a bit of romance thrown in. Very good.

    Catching Fire is on my nightstand. It's next, I swear.

  8. Thanks for sharing your list. I definitely heard great things from everyone who has read Water For Elephants. It's on my must read list as well :)

  9. Some of these sound really, really good. I think that I need to go make a wish list at Amazon right now!

  10. I'm reading a book that is 8 years old, but brand new to me. "The Lovely Bones" By Alice Sebold. Next on my list is one by Mitch Albom, but I can't think of the title of it right now. It's sitting in my suitcase to take home. My mom turned me on to Mitch Albom with "The Five People You Meet In Heaven" which was an excellent book.
    The highlight of my year with reading was getting a comment from Syrie James on my blog! That was so cool!
    Love your booklist, and I, like Brandy, have only read one of them. I definitely will be looking into some of these. Thanks for the recs.

  11. By the way, it's called "For One More Day" By Mitch Albom....:)

  12. I loved "Water For Elephants". I will check out some of the other books on your list. But I better do it quick before my life gets really crazy!

  13. Wow! 7 looks kinda spooky cara! lol. I would probably like 12 and 13 best of all this list. Maybe the crying one from the librarian, lol.

    I'm not much a fiction reader but if someone really says a book is worth reading, I'm on it.

  14. I am so writing down this list. I love to read. I love getting lost in a book...

  15. You know I check your bookshelf link all the time, right?

    Thanks for the list. We have some 2009 favorites in common and I look forward to checking out more of your recommendations as well.

  16. Thanks for the suggestions...I loved Water for Elephants. The other titles sound interesting!

  17. Potato Peel Society is on my list for 2010. And I liked Water for Elephants a lot. I am planning a Top Ten for later this week to cover '09!

  18. I love that your list has 13. Because 10 is so very last year.

    I may need to jump into some of those, they all sound good. Now if I could just stop this annoying habit of sleeping every night so I would have some acutal time...

  19. Awesome list! I too love to read, and see several on your list that I will definitely check out sooner rather than later! I always have a pile of "to be read" but I usually put anything recommended by friends near the top, LOL!

    Right now I am reading Ed Viestur's biography, "No Shortcuts to the Top." He is an American mountain climber who has climbed all 14 of the world's highest peaks. Very engaging writing and fascinating peek into the world of Himalayan climbing. I definitely recommend it!

  20. Thanks for the list. Some on it mirror my own, but there are some on here I'll be adding to my "to read" list for 2010. Currently loving "The Help" and wishing I didn't put off reading it b/c I was afraid it wouldn't live up to the hype.

  21. In my eReader:

    *Water For Elephants
    *The Guernsay Literay...(this was one of Tiffany's faves of the year.)

    In actual book form, next to my nightstand:

    *The Book Thief (was told I'd cry.)
    *The Graveyard Book

    Read this year:
    *Life As We Knew It (and its sequel, The Dead and the Gone)
    *The Maze Runner
    *Catching Fire

    (You know how I feel about those final 2. Faves of the year, hands down.)

    Currently I'm rereading all 7 Harry Potters. Other faves of the year (all YA...don't judge):
    *Wake--Lisa McCann
    *Fade--Lisa Mcann
    (the 3rd and final in this series, "Gone," is released in early February.)
    *The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockart
    *Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
    *From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg
    *The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart
    (these last 2 are younger YA)

    Disquiet, by Julia Leigh
    2666 by Roberto Bolano
    both excellent, both very strange & beautiful.

    Longest comment ever.


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