When I sat down to write this post, I was going to give you my top 5 reads of 2009. I only read 42 books so anything more than that seemed like a cop-out. But I read some really good books this year and I could only get my favorites list down to 10. With one honorable mention. I know – it’s pathetic. But I have actually ranked them so you can see my top five. You will also notice that there is significant overlap with this post and my husband’s below. Mostly because as soon as one of us loves a book, we incessantly nag the other to read it (in 2009’s case, it was all me nagging I think). My next post will be a year-end reading recap with stats and other fun figures, but for now here are my top 5 10 11 books of 2009.
Honorable Mention: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
A surprisingly enjoyable read that I couldn’t bear to leave off this list. It is a book about a teenage girl at a private boarding school who tries to break secret society traditions and gender roles. And she likes P.G. Wodehouse.
10: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
After creating this list, I realized that I failed to review a number of my favorite books. And I read this one almost a year ago now so it’s hard to remember what it was exactly that I liked about it. I guess I feel like it’s one of those great coming of age stories that all girls (well boys too but they’ll be hard to convince) should read like To Kill a Mockingbird or Little Women.
9: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
As much as I love happy endings, I also love tragic ones. I loved this story so much as I was reading it, but the way it ended sealed its fate on this list.
8: The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
A fantastic series for young readers and equally enthralling for adults. This year I read all three MBS books and while I enjoyed all of them, this one was the best by leaps and bounds. I was looking for a new group of kids to start following and Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance were just what I needed.
7: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
This book took me ages to read. I really struggled to get into it. I don’t know if it was my mood at the time or my desire to love this book as much as everyone else, but it just wasn’t working for me. Then I decided I was reading it no matter what. And I fell in love with it. I’ve just learned that my attention span for epic novels (this, War and Peace, Middlesex, etc.) is just something I will probably struggle with no matter how good they are.
6: Peony in Love by Lisa See
Part of why I love reading is because of the knowledge I gain through each book. Peony in Love (and all of See’s novels) are full of history and culture that I knew very little about. The characters in this book are based on real people and the book that the story revolves around is a real book. The way that See manages to shape this into a story is simply amazing.
5: Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace
I think I will always remember 2009 as the year I discovered Betsy-Tacy. I wish I had read it as a child so that I could have reread it 10 times by now.
4: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Everyone I’ve discussed this book with has said that it took them some time to get into the novel. Me? I was pulled into the story immediately. It revolves around one apartment building in France and its diverse and eccentric tenants. Our two narrators are a 12-year-old girl intent on killing herself and a middle-aged concierge hiding her true passion for high culture and the book is full of philosophical ramblings and right place, right time interactions. Tell me you don’t want to read that book.
3: Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy
I never reviewed Love Begins in Winter. I’m not sure why because I have so many good things to say about it. The book is made up of five short stories about chance encounters, hope, and (you guess-it) love. It is remarkably written – one of those books that makes you realize how wonderful language can be when manipulated just right. This was a spur of the moment buy and read and I’m thankful I wandered into that bookstore in St. Louis and picked it up.
2: The Hunger Games (review) and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games/Catching Fire make the list at #2 because this series was my most enjoyable reading experience of the year. I got completely lost in the books and cannot wait for the third book to come out in the fall. They weren’t the “best” books I read this year, but reading is entertainment and entertain me these did.
1: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (review)
I apparently never reviewed this book and thus my thoughts about it are escaping me, but I know for a fact that it is my favorite book read in 2009. It was one of those books that gets as close to perfect as possible. The language was beautiful, the story was beautiful, and the characters were beautiful. Please read it.
Wow, this post took way longer than I anticipated. I really hope you enjoyed it. And stay tuned for my next 2009-recap post.
Happy New Year!