This is the time of year when the few remaining newspapers in the United States start compiling their list of the year's best books. You can go here to see the New York Times 100 notable books of 2009. All I will say about their list is that I'm about the most illiterate person I know as I have read only one book on the list and have heard of maybe three. So sad. But. Seeing as the newspapers all make their lists, I will make mine. I have read 35 and 1/2 books this year. I'm halfway done with The Girl Who Played With Fire. I might be able to fit two more in, but I won't make 40 this year. Here's what I read this year:
The Know It All / The Fountainhead / The Audacity of Hope / Lethal Legacy
The Reader/ The Gardner Heist / Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs / Fargo Rock CIty
8th Confession / Year Of Living Biblically / What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
Dangerous Waters / White Fang / Netherland / The Idiot Girl & The Flaming Tantrum of Death
Finger Lickin' Fifteen/ The Year Of Magical Thinking/ The Secret Life Of Bees /
Autobiography of a Fat Bride/ We Thought You'd Be Prettier/ Idiot Girls Action Adventure Club
Julie & Julia / Population 485 / The Siege of Mecca / Pigman / Heat / The Idiot Girls Christmas
Killing Yourself To Live / The Guinea Pig Diaries/ I Love Everybody / Locked In / Catch-22/
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo / Hardball/ The Good Soldiers
Looking at this list all typed out, I notice that there were several authors I read a lot of. Laurie Notaro (The Idiot Girls books), Chuck Closterman (Sex, Drugs..., Killing Yourself..., Fargo Rock City), A.J. Jacobs (The Know it All, The Year of Living Biblically, The Guinea Pig Diaries). I read authors whom I read whenever they have books come out - Linda Fairstein, James Patterson, Marcia Muller. More non-fiction than fiction and less Middle East. I needed a break from the real heady stuff. Out of that list, here are my picks for the best books I read:
- The Good Soldiers by David Finkel. Everyone should read this. It follows an Army unit in Iraq during the surge. It is sad and frustrating. In reading this book, I started to realize that you really can't believe anything anyone in government says about the war because they truly have no clue what's going on in Iraq.
- The Siege Of Mecca - A little-known event in 1979 in which Saudi Islamic extremists took the main mosque in Mecca during Hajj. It is an engrossing story and really lays the groundwork for things that are going on today.
- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Steig Larsson's first book in the millennium trilogy. He died just after he delivered the three manuscripts for this series. It's too bad because he's a wonderful writer. He writes an intricate plot that manages to not be confusing. There are twists and turns that you don't see coming. And a protagonist who is flawed - severely - but still incredibly likable.
- Netherland - I actually had to take a breath when I typed the title. A lyrical, Gatsbyesqe view of New York through the eyes of a foreigner. Well written and with beautiful imagery and language, it was one of the best books I've read in a long, long time.
- The Secret Life Of Bees - Everyone once in a while, a book is chosen in book club that I know almost nothing about and that doesn't seem to be my cup of tea. I thought that about this book until I got about 10 pages in. A coming of age tale set in the south at the beginning of the civil rights movement. It's a moving, positive story. I truly loved this book.
So there you have it. I chose to talk about only 5 books because I actually listed all the books I read. I think that despite predictions to the contrary, the book is here to stay. And based upon some of the books I read this year, there are some wonderfully talented writers in this world who should get way more attention than a gun-toting, moose-eating former governor. Just sayin'.