Friday, January 01, 2010

Top Books of 2009

I read 48 books last year.
<-- CLICK on the image of me carrying them, for a more detailed account.
A few times I have abandoned a book halfway through, and not just because a book is bad, but sometimes it's because I just lose interest.
This happened especially with several books of non-fiction I started, but did not finish, in 2009.
The listing though, is of books I read in their entirety.
And since the overwhelming percentage of them were fictional, this New Year's Day I am just going to select a few of these, let's say 8, which were especially outstanding. Memorable. Lasting. Timelessly good.

Even a cursory glance through my books of 2009 will reveal that I do not rely on Bestseller Lists to choose what I am going to read next.
And every year, as I myself peruse the previous year's adventures -- I make mental notes to myself.
Things like:
1) You did not read any Shakespeare? And you call yourself a "reader"?
2) Why have you not yet read Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone?
3) You are not reading enough poetry collections.

Then I crack open a beer, and relax.

Here are my 8 Favorite Books of 2009.
[Note: Not necessarily in order of preference, but in order of having read them.]

1) Libra, by Don DeLillo. [1988]
An unputdownable, riveting, fictional speculation on the assassination of J.F.K.
2) Afterlands, by Steven Heighton. [2005]
An 1872 Arctic expedition gone seriously awry. What a joy to discover this amazing author. I've already pre-ordered his new tale.
3) The Hotel New Hampshire, by John Irving. [1981]
Vintage Irving. This one has all the eccentric weirdness you could throw a transvestite bear at!
4) Herzog, by Saul Bellow [1964]
By way of letters and flashbacks, a vivisection of the profound mind of the inimitably perturbed Moses Herzog.
5) Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett [2001]
A South American hostage-taking. The beginning and ending are violent, everything in-between reminding the reader that there are two sides to every story.
6) The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood [2009]
One thing -- you've got to already love Margaret. And I did. Do. Which is to say... may not make you want to marry her, but if you were already hers, you'll want to renew your vows.
7) The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien [1990]
A collection of related stories / vignettes, about a platoon of American soldiers in the Vietnam War. It creeps up on you.
8) The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon [2000]
I will remember 2009 as the year Michael Chabon discovered me. What a terrific, rollicking, book!

All of these books were great!
And I am looking forward to 2010. A year of reading, with every moment I able to give to such adventure. Such vicarious experience. Such pleasure.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, to you, my fellow book-addicts!
And finally, I do not want to verbally single out two favorites among my 8 favorites, [as Margaret Atwood once told me when I asked her what her own favorite book was, "The other ones would find out!"] but I will let the following photograph, laced with steroidal-proportions of subliminal suggestions, make its unspoken impression upon thee.




Melanie said...

Great roundup of some great books! I have to admit that when I saw Heighton's new book in the publisher's catalogues, I immediately thought of you :)

cipriano said...

Melanie, I greatly encourage you to read anything you can get your little paws on, by this author.
He is terrific.
The Shadow Boxer was another novel that would have made it to my top ten......

Alyce said...

I know I added Herzog to my list earlier this year when you reviewed it. I haven't read any of the others on your list either, but am planning to read at least one book each by John Irving and Margaret Atwood this year.

Sam Sattler said...

Nice list, Cip. I've had "Libra" on my TBR list forever and never seem to get to it. It intimidates me for some reason. :-)

cipriano said...

I encourage you towards the Herzog book, and Irving and Atwood.... mmmm...... they are both so very good.

Oh, DO read it.
You live so close to some of the events described in the book, wow, you've just got to read it some day. Magnificently written.

Anonymous said...

Sam, I also encourage you to try Libra. It is a big book but a fast read. DeLillo is a brilliant writer and has researched the whole event meticulously, yet the book reads quickly and there is never a dull chapter in it.

Dorothy W. said...

Happy New Year! Those are eight great books, some of which I've enjoyed myself, and others of which I hope to get to. I hope you have a wonderful 2010!

Stefanie said...

Great list! You did some really good reading in 2009! One I've read, one I am reading and many of the others I've been wanting to read for ages. For some reason I have a huge urge to put Heighton's book on my TBR list now too. :) Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Cippy!
Well it floored me to read that you never got to The Moonstone! Sacrilège!!! I'll even lend it to you if that's what it takes (and I am normally averse to lending).
I read a few on your list and have a few others on my TBR shelf and others still on my TBB list (to be bought). I may try the library on a few of them...then again I may not...
2010 should be full of surprises!

Anonymous said...

Hey, me again.
I just finished checking out your complete list of reading for 2009 and noticed something: you sometimes read the same author back to back. I never do that. What makes you decide to read the same author back to back?

cipriano said...

I agree with you, Sam [and all other people] should read Libra.
Heighton is a beauty writer. You must get him. You will like the image of him, on the dustjacket!
I also wish you a terrific 2010! A year of much reading, much cycling.
I've GOT to get to The Moonstone this year.
Your question about "back-to-back".... it is not really a planned thing, but I mostly read with a partner, and sometimes it just works out that we sort of want to FOCUS on an author that has impressed us, from time to time.