Wow, 2009 was a good year for reading. Not only did I read many more books than in previous years, but the quality of the reads was so much better. If you look back on my recap for 2008 you will see it was pretty slim pickins last year. This year I have almost 30 books that I really liked or loved. So was tough to narrow it down to my top 10 for the year.
Don’t be misled, these aren’t the finest, best-written books I read in 2009, they are just the ones that I enjoyed the most. And they are in no particular order.
The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher – My favorite Persephone so far. Review here.
Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter – German ocean liner sailing from Mexico to Germany in the 1930s. A really interesting story about the disparate lives of the first class and mostly anti-Semitic passengers, the way they mix and the way they don’t mix.
Hotel de Dream by Edmund White – A wonderful bit of historical fiction about American author Stephen Crane and a manuscript about a male prostitute. Review here.
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins – My first Wilkie Collins but definitely not my last. Lots of plot, lots of twists and turns. I loved it. Review here.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Shaffer & Barrows – Life in the Channel Islands during WWII and plenty of book talk. Not perfect, but really, really enjoyable. Review here.
The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing – A different kind of thriller that definitely keeps you in suspense right up to the end. Review here.
Consequences by Penelope Lively – A really wonderful multigenerational story that I didn’t want to end.
A Meeting by the River by Christopher Isherwood – A brother goes to India to see his brother who is about to become a brother. A Hindu monk that is. The story is told from both brothers’ perspective.
The House by the Sea by May Sarton – One of Sarton’s many journals. Books, garden, chores, neighbors, solitude. I read them whenever I need something quiet and evocative of simpler times.
On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin – An amazing novel of two farmer-brothers and their life in the Welsh borderlands. The writing and the story are quite beautiful.
The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman – Lipman is the queen of the intelligent, easy read. This was my first Lipman (I read two others this year and have another two lined up) and I loved it. This is the perfect introduction to what will become your love affair with Elinor Lipman.
As you can see, I couldn’t quite narrow it down to 10. The closest I could come was 11.
My Latest Grievance – Elinor Lipman
The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood
Pied Piper – Nevil Shute
The Return of the Soldier – Rebecca West
Plant Dreaming Deep – May Sarton
Some Tame Gazelle – Barbara Pym
Fly Away Home – Marge Piercy
Strangers – Anita Brookner
The Game of Opposites – Norman Lebrecht
Deluxe – Dana Thomas
Journal of Solitude – May Sarton
Anything for Jane – Cheryl Mendelson
A Jest of God – Margaret Laurence
Mr Phillips – John Lanchester
Love, Work, Children – Cheryl Mendelson
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
The Trick of It – Michael Frayn