Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Favorite Reads of 2009

It's that time again- when bloggers everywhere list their top favorites of the year. Here are mine, in no particular order because I loved them all.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
, by Winifred Watson. Sunshine on the page. Loved it. Lively fiction set in England between the wars.

Cutting for Stone
, by Abraham Verghese. Amazing instant classic and beautiful surprise. A sprawling epic about love and medicine.

Someone to Run With
, by David Grossman. Fantastically well-written literary fiction about contemporary Israel, it's a story about a young girl trying to save herself and her friends.

Siberia, by Nikolai Maslov. Published in 2006 and a true story, it's far and away the best graphic novel I read this year. A stunner.

The City and The City, by China Mieville. Expertly written politico-science fiction. I really enjoyed this neat, unique novel.

Wild Strawberries, by Angela Thirkell. Light, lovely fun for a summer's
day- an English countryside comedy of manners.

Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout. A beautiful, luminous novel-in-stories about a complicated and fascinating character.

The Children's Book, by A.S. Byatt. Gorgeous achievement by one of the top writers in English today.

School for Love
, by Olivia Manning. Wonderful lesser-known novel about exiles in Jerusalem in the early 20th century.

Sacred Hearts, by Sarah Dunant. Beautiful, suspenseful story about Renaissance-era nuns.

Lavinia, by Ursula K. LeGuin. Can't say enough good things about this post modern take on The Aeneid starring one of its minor characters.

Valley of Strength, by Shulamit Lapid. Fine historical fiction about pre-state Israel about a young mother homesteading with her new husband.

The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood. Great dystopia from one of the genre's best practitioners and a fine follow-up to her Oryx and Crake.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. Beautiful, brilliant young adult coming-of-age story about a young boy growing up on and off the reservation.

Slumberland, by Paul Beatty. A fun, lively, cracking good read about an African-American man searching for a composer in modern Germany.

In 2010 I'm going to pay less attention to current releases and hype and spend more time pursuing my own interests- literary fiction, Russian and Jewish fiction, and those classics I've been meaning to read forever. So that means fewer ARCs and fewer review requests. We'll see how it goes!

31 comments:

MarceJ said...

Nice plan Marie. The Childrens Book I want to read but size scares me :-)

Here is mine
http://teawithmarce.blogspot.com/2009/12/countdown-of-my-favourites.html

thekoolaidmom said...

That sounds like a very good plan :-) If I had spent more time behaving this past year, I might be able to do the same this year ;-)

I too enjoyed Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

Blodeuedd said...

Have not read a single one of those books, but I am always searching for BYatt at the library

nanscorner said...

Great list of books... I added some to my TBR list.

Happy new year!

Charley said...

I haven't read any of those books, but I saw quite a few there that interest me. And hooray to pursuing your own interests in 2010!

wisteria said...

Marie, A great list!! I like your 2010 plan and I also am going to try and be less driven by ARC requests. I need to focus on my love of historical fiction, history and contemporary global issues. Happy New Year!!

JoAnn said...

Great list! Cutting for Stone is the book I most regret not reading in 2009. Miss Pettigrew was one of last year's favorites and Olive Kitteridge is on my list this year, too.

Rebecca Reid said...

What a great list of books. I haven't been reading lots of modern fiction but I keep seeing the same ones on the list and they sound so good!

The graphic novel sounds very interesting -- I'm always looking for more graphic novels to read that appeal to me, so thanks for mentioning it!

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read a single one of those books and only have one in my TBR pile. You tend to read more intellectual books than I do.

Bibliolatrist said...

Mieville is on my list - you made me want to run out and get it right now but I MUST NOT BUY MORE BOOKS -- FOR NOW.

Scobberlotcher said...

Great, diverse list of books. I have Sacred Hearts waiting for me! Speaking of Russian fiction, have you read The Gentle Axe? I just found it at the dollar store and it's a mystery set in Russia. Looks good.

Happy New Year!

"New Years' Day is every man's birthday." - Charles Lamb

Literary Feline said...

Great list, Marie. I haven't read any of the books you mention, but several are ones I hope to read at some point in the future.

Good luck with your goals for this next year. Have a wonderful 2010.

Ellen Steinbaum said...

Thanks for some great-sounding suggestions, Marie. Happy reading in 2010.

Nymeth said...

Completely agree about The Children's Book and Lavinia. And Miss Pettigrew is on my mental list for 2010. Happy New Year, Marie!

Serena said...

wow. I haven't read any of these books this year.

Serena said...

Sounds like you have a great plan for 2010.

Vasilly said...

You have a great list! I'm definitely adding Miss Pettigrew after your description of it. I have The Children's Book on audio right now but haven't listened to it yet. Happy New Year!

John A. Walsh said...

You know what I LOVE about this site Marie? That you turn me onto books that I've NEVER even heard of! Very kind of you......

Hope your Christmas was grand and that your New Years Eve (TONIGHT!) is stellar.

Diane said...

I love this time of year and reading everyone's list of favorites. I LOVED Cutting for Stone as well and I look forward to The Children's Book too.

Hope that you have a Happy and Healthy New Year. May all they books that your read in 2010 be terrific.

Aarti said...

I really need to read Ursula K Le Guin and China Mievelle next year!

reviewsbylola said...

I want to read a lot of the books on your list! I included Sacred Hearts in my Best of 2009 post too.

jlshall said...

Terrific list! Seems like Sacred Hearts made an awful lot of "Best Of" lists this year - it's on mine, too. Just bought The Children's Book and I'm really looking forward to getting started on it, but it'll probably take me half the year to get through it!

Hope you have another great reading year in 2010!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Great list! I'm sure you know I agree with the ones that we both have read!

I hope you have a wonderful new year!!!

Bryan R. Terry said...

What a great list. I love Paul Beatty.

My Best and Worst of 2009 is HERE

Lesley said...

I just added a copy of Siberia to my library hold list - thanks for the heads up on what looks to be a great graphic novel.

Anna said...

I haven't read any of those, but I'll keep them in mind.

Looks like we have similar goals with regard to fewer review books. I want to clear the ones I have off my shelves in the new year.

Wishing you all the best in 2010!

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Beth F said...

Well we don't overlap at all! Happy happy new year.

dolcebellezza said...

I thought I left a comment here about The Children's Book, but apparently not. I loved Possession so much that I bought The Children's Book as soon as it came out this fall...however, my dear friend had surgery on her knee, and I gave it to her as she introduced me to A.S. Byatt in the first place. So, I'll be adding it to my list for 2010; can't wait! You have a great selection of awesome reads.

Marie said...

DolceBellezza- what a great friend you are! :-) Wow. I might buy my friend her own copy but I wouldn't give her mine! :-)

Jeanne said...

Olive Kitteridge and The Year of the Flood are my two favorites of the year as well.

Zibilee said...

So many of these sound like wonderful reads! I am really anxious to start Cutting for Stone and The Children's Book as well as The Year of The Flood. I am so glad to hear that you had so many great reads this year. I think your reading plan for the new year sounds great, good luck with it!