Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in review - what I read

Now playing on the iPod - "Bad" (Wide Awake in America version) - U2

It's New Year's Eve, and as usual I've nothing to do. So it's time for the Year in Review for What I Read!

Many tales of dysfunctionality in this year's list, for some reason. But some fun reads and some great discoveries as well.

The Gathering – Anne Enright †
Brown’s Requiem – James Ellroy
Finn – Jon Clinch
Abide With Me – Elizabeth Strout †
Till We Have Faces – C. S. Lewis *
Just After Sunset – Stephen King
How Not to Write a Novel – Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman
Stardust – Neil Gaiman
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
Reflections in a Golden Eye – Carson McCullers
Lords and Ladies – Terry Pratchett
The Terror – Dan Simmons *
A Feast for Crows – George R. R. Martin *
Child of God – Cormac McCarthy
A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
The Code of the Woosters – P. G. Wodehouse
The Uncommon Reader – Alan Bennett
The Dramatist – Ken Bruen †
Leave Her to Heaven – Ben Ames Williams †
Gladiatrix – Russell Whitfield
The Postman Always Rings Twice – James M. Cain
Mistress of the Sun – Sandra Gulland
Blood Meridian, or The Evening Redness in the West – Cormac McCarthy *
Welcome to the Monkey House – Kurt Vonnegut
The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
Mistress of the Art of Death – Ariana Franklin
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Napoleon – Gideon Defoe
Garlic and Sapphires – Ruth Reichl
After Dark, My Sweet – Jim Thompson
My Sister, My Love – Joyce Carol Oates
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Amy and Isabelle – Elizabeth Strout *
World War Z – Max Brooks
The Accidental Tourist – Anne Tyler *
Something Borrowed – Emily Giffin †
Jake’s Wake – John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow
My Sweet Audrina – V. C. Andrews
Katherine – Anya Seton
The Quick Red Fox – John D. MacDonald
Spider Kiss – Harlan Ellison
Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding *
The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing – Melissa Banks †
The Summer of Cotton Candy – Debbie Vigue
Vanilla Bright Like Eminem – Michel Faber
Real World – Natsuo Kirino
The Big Red One – Sam Fuller
Crippen – John Boyne †
The Werewolf’s Guide to Life
A Stolen Tongue – Sheri Holman †
The Autobiography of Henry VIII – Margaret George *
The Great Stink – Clare Clark *
Cavedweller – Dorothy Allison *
Beat the Reaper – Josh Bazell
Under the Dome – Stephen King
American Tabloid – James Ellroy
Heir to the Glimmering World – Cynthia Ozick †
Last Night at the Lobster – Stewart O’Nan
The Dark Queen – Susan Carroll

† = unfinished
* = re-reads

That's 58 books total. I'm hoping to have bigger numbers next year, as I'm taking a six-month hiatus off any new fiction projects (not sure if that'll really help the reading seeing as how I have one manuscript to get agent-ready and one to revise and do a publication, not to mention my usual reviewing duties).

Anyway, of those 58 here are the top ten best (re-reads don't count) in alphabetical order:

American Tabloid - Political noir as only James Ellroy can tell it.

The Big Red One - Will never will prizes for its prose but is a harsh, funny, and captivating portrayal of war by someone who lived through it.

Catch-22 - Dances the fine line between comedy and tragedy.

Child of God - Not on a par with The Road or Blood Meridian, but a haunting portrait of a person who's an outsider in so many ways.

Finn - A fascinating and often frightening take on Huckleberry Finn's father.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - I was put off by the twee-sounding title, but it was one of the most enjoyable books this year, and I'm still thinking about many of the characters.

My Sister, My Love - Joyce Carol Oates' haunting and satiric spin on the JonBenet Ramsey case.

Spider Kiss - Harlan Ellison's only published novel puts his knack for description and his savage wit to work on the world of rock music.

Under the Dome - The King is back. 'Nuff said.

World War Z - Max Brooks' take on the aftermath of a zombie plague was unputdownable.

Honorable mention: The Pirates! In an Adventure With Napoleon - So good to see the Pirate Captain and his crew again.

Looking forward to another year of reading!

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