22 December 2009

My Favorite Reads for 2009


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.

Honorable Mentions
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

18 comments:

  1. Great choices Tom. I loved the 92) Lipman books you mentioned. I read Inn at Lake Devine twice, and Her Latest Grievance was great too!

    Happy Holidays to you an yours. Thanks for being a loyal blogging buddy.

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  2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was my favourite read of last year, such a wonderful read! And discovering Wilkie Collins this year was pretty terrific for me too. Great list!

    Merry Christmas Thomas, enjoy your holiday season.

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  3. Excellent list, Thomas! The Home-Maker will appear on mine, too. Also enjoyed The Woman in White, Guernsy, and The House by the Sea. Consequences is on my wish list. Happy holidays!

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  4. Diane: I resisted Lipman for a long time. Then I read Lake Devine and realized my mistake.

    Darlene: Guernsey was probably the one that had me most delighted. It is just that kind of book.

    JoAnn: Our reading tastes really overlap don't they?

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  5. Great list! I love the Woman in White and the Guernsey book. I've never heard of Lipman. I'm going to look her up right now.

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  6. I've only read three of these books! How wonderful to have this list of recommendations. Thanks, Thomas!

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  7. I like May Sarton, but I've only read a few of her books, and none of them actual journals.

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  8. Excited to see three of my favourites on your list: The Home-Maker, The Woman in White and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It's always so fun to see what other people have read throughout the year - great list!

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  9. Great post Thomas. I have to read Brave New World and some Shute at some point. Glad you loved Wilkie he is truly amazing.

    Wishing you a wonderful Christmas too!

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  10. Mrs. B: I don't think you will be disappointed by Lipman.

    Answer Girl: Which three?! It's going to keep me up at night.

    Jeane: I think I have read more of her journals than novels.

    Skirmishofwit: All three that you mention were book blogger recommendations. I wouldn't even have known about them.

    Simon: You could make 2010 the year of Shute.

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  11. I haven't seen the Classics ed. of The Home-Maker - I loved it when I read it five years ago. And the Guernsey book is wonderful, of course - those are the only two I've read from your list.

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  12. I enjoyed reading your list. I am nuts for that cover of The Home Maker - wonder what other classics are coming out soon? In some ways I regret owning some of the original Persephones as I am loving these new covers so much, and I own nearly all them already.

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  13. Simon T: I haven't seen that classics edition yet either. There may be a few more in the honorable mention category that you have read. At least The Return of the Soldier.

    Tara: It is a wonderful image and I just discovered this morning by accident when I was doing research for my Sunday Painting post that it is by Norman Rockwell.

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  14. Of course I agree with your choice of Penelope Lively in your top 10! And I love May Sarton's journals as well. I have a couple other of the books on your list on my TBR - good to hear they are so highly recommended!

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  15. Melanie: I just started another Lively last night which I will no doubt finish this year. I may have to amend this list.

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  16. Like Simon T. I am surprised to see the Classics edition of The Home-Maker, as I have seen no mention of it on the Persephone site (or anywhere else for that matter). Where have you found the image?

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  17. Lethe: I did a google image search and this is where I found the image:

    http://www.cbsd.com/inventory.aspx?id=1676007

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  18. To be published in January, goody! I'll definitely buy this edition. Thanks for the info!

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