Friday, January 1, 2010

Favorites of 2009: My Year of Reading

Happy 2010! I read 102 books this year, which beat my goal of 100 books. Still, I read a lot of children's books, including picture books, and young adult books, so the number is somewhat dubious. In 2010 I'm not setting a goal of how many books to read, as I want to aim to read deliberately. Simply put, I'm more concerned with quality than quantity. I want to read chunksters; I want to read the Booker shortlist, the Orange shortlist, the Pulitzer finalists, the National Book Award finalists, and I want to read from the Best of 2009 and Best of the 2000s lists. I'll still read for fun too. Without further ado, my favorite books of 2009! As I look back on my year reading, I take into account enjoyment and quality, as well as how much I still think of these books. Are they the best? Most always, but in cases of close calls, personal preference are the deciding factor. Although I read lots of books published in 2009, this list reflects my 2009 reading, which also includes other years.

Favorite picture book: 

Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems is the sequel to also wonderful Knuffle Bunny. I'm also a huge fan of his Elephant and Piggie easy reader series, but nothing tops Knuffle Bunny Too for me. It's funny, sometimes silly, sometimes sweet, and the cartoon drawings over black and white photographs of New York City are simply majestic.

Favorite Children's Chapter Book:

The Mystery of the Third Lucretia is the first mystery in the Kari and Lucas series by Susan Runholt. I cannot say enough wonderful things about this novel, but here's the kicker: I chose this book over When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, which I truly hope wins the Newbery Medal.

Almost favorites: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh, and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

2009 is the year I rediscovered how much I love children's literature!

Favorite Young Adult Book:

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins is the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy. I liked the first one, but I LOVED this one.

Almost favorites: If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Fade by Lisa McMann (book two in the Wake trilogy), the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty

I rediscovered young adult literature in 2009 too, and I cannot remember it being this good when I was a teen.

Favorite graphic novel:

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis could easily be called children's or young adult, but as someone who often finds graphic novels hard to classify by age, I prefer to put it in this category. It's mesmerizing, beautiful and absolutely stunning.

Almost favorite: The Adventuress by Audrey Niffenegger

Favorite Short Story Collection:

You Must Be This Happy to Enter by Elizabeth Crane. Many years, this category would not exist. Yes, I only read one short story collection this year, but this one still deserves the credit. I adore Elizabeth Crane, and she made me adore short stories.

Favorite mystery:

The Lost Witness is the second Lena Gamble mystery novel by Robert Ellis (City of Fire is first; read it.) I read a lot of mysteries, and some I enjoy more for the characters who seem like friends, while some I enjoy for the thrill of the chase despite the sometimes neglected characters. When Robert Ellis writes, however, he manages to fully develop intriguing characters and write the best mysteries period. He's ridiculously underappreciated, and I cannot understand why. I loved City of Fire, but The Lost Witness is even more brilliant.

Almost favorite: Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell was a rollicking good time, and Bazell is one my favorite new authors.

Favorite nonfiction:

Empowered: A Woman-to-Woman Guide to Preventing and Surviving Breast Cancer by Sheryl Ellinwood changed me. I didn't read as much nonfiction as I usually do in a year, but this book is one I gave to friends and will continue to turn to in years to come. It's a book I believe every woman should read.

Favorite fiction:

The Sound of Language by Amulya Malladi is beautifully written look at the world of Afghan refugees in Denmark after 9/11. I loved it.

Almost favorites: Driving Sideways by Jess Riley, The Ten-Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer, Keep Your Mouth Shut and Wear Beige by Kathleen Gilles Seidel, Much Ado About Jessie Kaplan by Paula Marantz Cohen, and Q & A by Vikas Swarup.

Runner-up Favorite book of 2009: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Favorite Read of 2009 Overall:
 The Lost Witness by Robert Ellis

Congratulations, Robert!

I cannot wait for the third Lena Gamble to come out.

Happy reading! 


  1. What a great list! Thank you for sharing! Now I need to read some of these!

  2. Oh my gosh, I love the Jessica Darling books -- my absolute favorites. McCafferty's series is the only one I can actually see myself re-reading in the future. And I loved Catching Fire, too!


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