best reads of the year

This is the time of year when my husband, the music fanatic, spends a lot of time reading best albums of the year lists and talking about what albums would be on his list — if he had a list, that is, because he never actually makes one.  But he enjoys thinking about it and debating the merits of his favorite albums of the year and arguing with friends over which were actually the best.

So I decided to join in the list-making fun, but thought I better stick to books and leave the music to him.  And, you know, I actually made my list.

I have to admit, though, it’s harder than you think.  For one, I realized that I only read about 16 new books this year.  If I made a top 10 — or even top 5 list — based on 2009 releases only, I’d have to name a pretty high percentage of the books I read, which kind of defeats the purpose of making a list in the first place.  So I decided my list would be based on everything I read — and that I would keep in to only 5, in order for it to include less than 10% of my total readings.  (Except then I cheated and used 2 books in one spot.  But it’s my list, so I get to make the rules, right?) And then I’d name my favorite new book of the year as well.  And so, without further ado:

bookhopping’s Top Books Read in 2009
(in alphabetical order)

The Book Thief
Markus Zusak

A beautifully written piece of YA historical fiction that is creative, funny, and incredibly moving.  This is a book I’ve been recommending and giving as gifts ever since I finished it.

The Guernesy Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Another historical novel that incoporates both comedy and tragedy and expresses its story through a range of well-developed voices.  The title may be awkward and the format unconventional, but the story within is absolutely wonderful.

The Help
Kathryn Stockett
bookhopping’s Best New Book of 2009

The compelling narrative of three very different women whose lives have been shaped by the culture and injustices of Mississippi in the mid-20th century and who are intent on doing what they can to change the status quo.

Hunger Games/Catching Fire
Suzanne Collins

Two YA books, but one entirely thrilling story that isn’t quite finished. Sixteen-year-old Katniss’ struggle for survival, her fierce instinct to protect her family and friends, and the non-stop danger she unwittingly brought upon herself easily made for the most adrenaline-inducing read I experienced this year, if not ever.   The third book of the trilogy can’t come quickly enough.

The Thirteenth Tale
Diane Setterfield

A hauntingly beautiful tale about story-telling and identity-seeking written in a nearly timeless manner that creates a world all too easy to disappear into.

There appears to be a lot of historical fiction on this list — the first three definitely qualify, and there are pieces of the genre in Setterfield’s novel as well.  I’ve always enjoyed historical fiction, but have never considered myself a fan of it above other genres, so it’s interesting that my favorite books of the year leaned in that direction.  I’ll have to pay attention to future historical fiction reads to see if my appreciation for the genre is growing, or if I just ran into a number of excellent examples of it this year.  Otherwise this list represents my general reading pretty well — about half YA, and largely dominated by female authors and protagonists.

What made your favorite-of-2009 list? Or would, if you actually made a list?


~ by Molly on December 31, 2009.

5 Responses to “best reads of the year”

  1. I have The Book Thief and The Help in my current stack. I LOVED the other three you listed, so I’m very excited for those two!

    Columbine was my favorite non-fiction new book of 2009.

  2. I would have had Guernsey on my list too, but read it right before Christmas a year ago so as to give it to my sister! I liked it very much but thought it read very much like an old favorite author, D.E. Stevenson. I would be very surprised if the authors had not read her body of work.

  3. I absolutely loved Thirteenth Tale — found myself running up to people saying, “Have you read this? You really should!” And thanks to your recommendation, The Gurrnsey Literary et al, was one of my year’s favorites as well.

  4. […] Step 1: Check out my “best reads of the year” post […]

  5. My choice would be the Book Thief, because I have heard incredible things about it both here and from other readers, and I have not had the p=opportunity to read it yet.

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