Friday, January 01, 2010

2009: The Year In Books

Happy New Year, everybody!

Traditionally on New Year's Day, I do a round-up of my reading for the past year. You can find a list of all the books I read in 2009, in more or less the order that I read them, here. As usual, it's a big old eclectic mish-mash of stuff. Lots of science fiction and fantasy, and about as much non-fiction as fiction -- I'm still mostly alternating the two -- but an increasing amount of more mainstream fiction, as well. Among other things, I finally finished the Horatio Hornblower series, kept on reading through Miles Vorkosigan, dipped in and out of Jeeves & Wooster, and went back in time to read some old Doctor Who novels.

Total books read: 157, which is slightly less than in the last couple of years, but surely still a respectable number in anybody's book. The teetering To-Read Pile started the year at 454 books, and was down to 428 at the end of it. Less progress than I'd hoped for, alas, but progress nonetheless. I'm hoping to whittle it down below 400 in 2010. Wish me luck!

I find it nearly impossible to pick the "best of" anything, but I looked over my 2009 reading and picked out everything I rated four-and-a-half stars or above, which conveniently worked out to an even 20 books. Whether I could really call this the best books I read in 2009, I can't say. Ratings for me are such slippery things, and what they actually mean tends to vary from book to book. But here, divided by category but otherwise in no particular order, are the results that approach gives:


I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
Joy in the Morning by P.G. Wodehouse
The Cat-Nappers by P.G. Wodehouse
The Ant King and Other Stories by Benjamin Rosenbaum
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, Vol 3: Wolves at the Gate by Joss Whedon et al.


The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
The Trial and Death of Socrates: Four Dialogues by Plato
Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human by Michael Chorost
How Doctors Think by Jermoe Groopman
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama
Alien Hand Syndrome edited by Alan Bellows
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
The National Parks: America's Best Idea by Dayton Duncan
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers


xkcd: volume 0 by Randall Munroe
Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book by Shel Silverstein


  1. Impressive. I only managed 48 this year.

  2. I think I have alien hand syndrome LOL

  3. Is your hand doing things without your knowing about it? Because I hate it when that happens.

  4. By the way I'm going to stop posting/emailing "Go (fill in name of sports team)" because every time I do they lose :(

  5. Aww. Maybe you should start filling in the name of the other team?

  6. Betty: Hmmmm.... I may give that a try.

  7. Intrigued by your list, I went to our library's online catalog to check for Never Let Me Go. Oh, they had it, all right. Fantastic. Unfortunately, the entry also listed the exact keywords that gave away why the kids were "special" to begin with. Well done, folks. Well done. So much for trying to get the full effect and avoiding spoilers for once. Pfft.

    Uh, anyway...hi, Betty! Happy New Year! :D

    --Sue Field

  8. Aargh, that's a great pity. I'm sure it's an excellent book even if you're spoiled for it, but I think it definitely benefits from going into it with as little foreknowledge as possible. Which I did, and have thus been careful not to tell people too much about it. Sigh.

    And Happy New Year! Haven't heard from you in ages! How's it going?

  9. Are the books as interesting as their titles?

  10. "Those ones". You are not a redneck and I know a redneck when I see one.