My Year in Books: 2009

by Patrick on December 17, 2009

What an incredibly strange year.  People in the national media said “tea bagger” on a near daily basis.  Glenn Beck rose to national prominence.  Tiger Woods was exposed as a philandering slut (possibly redundant?).  The New Orleans Saints are threatening to run the table in the NFL, and Michael Jackson died, causing mass hysteria online.  I suppose every year has its stories, its little moments, but for whatever reason, 2009 feels like the strangest year in a good long while.

As I’ve noted before, it was a great year for literature, one of the best in recent memory, in fact.  I read a lot of incredible books this year, but looking back on it, and more than a few were published in 2009 (I’ve already got a head start on 2010, though, with three forthcoming books down already).  Since I already covered a few of the books I loved that weren’t published this year in my Millions post, I think I’ll focus on good old 2009 here.  Over the next few days, whenever I get a chance, I’m going to write a quick post about one of the books I enjoyed this year.  This isn’t meant to be a “best of 2009” list, as I haven’t read nearly enough to say what those books might be.  This is merely a guided tour of some books that I enjoyed this year.  Some of them, I have no doubt, are among the best books published this year.  Anyway, enjoy, and as always, feel free to leave comments of what you enjoyed reading this year, what you hated, and what you think of the books I loved.

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    warren cassell 12.17.09 at 5:36 pm

    As a former Indie bookstore owner in Greenwich, Ct., I sure do miss the galleys. However, the library and Powells has helped to fill in the gaps—though with hardly enough free choices that I had in my former life.

    Anyway, I just finished Zoe Heller’s, The Believers about a left wing family in New York who truly gives new meaning to the term ‘dysfunctional’. Containing the most obnoxious harridan found in modern literature, this was like sitting fascinated watching two trains collide. Not always the most pleasant of reading, but enthralling, humorous (!) and unputdownable.

    Very different, set in the near future that is now, was Richard Powers’ Generosity about a young woman who is so happy that she’s dubbed Miss Generosity by her fellow students. She is also the target of a modern day Barnum gene researcher who wants to package her happy genetic disposition to clone others. This is not true science fiction (which I usually don’t read) but so close to today’s culture of celebrity that I found myself gasping at the parallels with today’s society. Powers’ superb writing ability didn’t hurt either.

    Then of course, my very favorite of the year was Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. Set for the most part in Ethiopia it deals with twin sons of an Indian nun (who dies in childbirth) and an American doctor who flees. Raised by doctors who adopt them, they too, become physicians who go disparate ways but end up in the United States where one saves the life of the other. This was a great read and my description here doesn’t do justice to the plot, the characters or the stellar writing. If there was just one novel to read last year, this would be my first choice of many splendid offerings.


    Warren Cassell
    Portland, Oregon

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