Saturday, December 26, 2009

My Top Reads of 2009

Just for the fun of it, I thought I'd post some of my favorite reads from the last year. This isn't a complete list by any means.

I'm aware that this list contains a rather a bizarre combination of genres. What can I say? I'm an eclectic reader.

The Reckoning, by Tanya Parker Mills
A finalist in several Whitney categories, and definitely deserving of that honor. Loved it.

Seeking Persephone, by Sarah M. Eden
Also Sarah's Affectations. The former was a Whitney finalist this year for Romance (it's a Regency), and I adored it. She's now publishing with Covenant, and her first book with them will be out in March. (Same month as my Band of Sisters! Maybe we can do signings together!) And she's already got another book accepted. She's a terrific writer.

The Source, by James Michener
Holy research, Batman. This book is one of those that you can't read in long, relaxing stretches. There's just so much that fills your brain that you have to set it down periodically to let it percolate before you pick it back up. But man, this guy can write and put together a fascinating story. Actually, several stories. The book covers (literally) about 1,000 years and everything that happened on a small hill in Israel during that time. I read it after visiting the Holy Land myself to get a better idea of the history of the place. Wow. Just wow.

Columbine, by David Cullen
I thought I knew what happened during the 1999 school shooting. No, I didn't. None of us really did. I thought I had a pretty good grasp on the profile of the shooters. Nope. This is a fascinating book that goes through what they were really like, what they did, why they did it, how it could have been prevented (several times), and every minute of the event. Warning: There are a lot of quotations from the boys' journals. They contain harsh language. So be aware going in that the book contains language.

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
One of those classics that I'd never read and felt I ought to. One of those I'm so glad I did. But one I cannot believe people let high schoolers read. (The content is not for teens. I was rather stunned to reach a few parts and think, Wait. This was written how many decades ago?!) That said, the story is brilliantly (if quirkily) crafted. It's downright hilarious in places, and in others, it's so tragic it made my cry. I don't know how he pulled it off, but man, he's an amazing writer.

The Singer of All Songs, by Kate Constable
This is the first of a trilogy, and I liked the whole set. It's a young adult fantasy that uses singing as the magic, and different people have the ability to sing different types of magic (iron craft, animal craft, air craft, etc.). The legend goes that some day, there will be a Singer of All Songs, which seems impossible, because some songs require really high notes that only women can hit, while others require low, grumbling notes only men can sing. It's a fascinating story, and I loved the author's voice.

Ice, by Sarah Beth Durst
I loved Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, by Jessica Day George, so when I heard about this alternate telling of the same fairy tale, I had to read it. This is a totally different take, but it's fascinating and just as enjoyable. I love it when a writer keeps me guessing. I knew that something would be significant at the end, but I didn't anticipate how. Right up to the end, I was still trying to piece the puzzle together. Note: Jessica's version is very much targeted at younger readers, while this one is definitely for older, teen readers. It has some swearing (not the "biggie" words, but still some) and other themes that would be more appropriate for older teens. I'd give my 7th grader Jessica's book but not this one for a few more years.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jaime Ford
The title really does say it all: this is such a bittersweet story of love and loss. It's half historical, half almost contemporary (1980s), with the historical part set during World War II when Japanese Americans were shipped off to relocation camps and how that affected not only the Japanese but other Asian Americans, including a young Chinese-American boy, Harry, whose father makes him wear a "I am Chinese" button every day so people won't mistake him as Japanese. Harry's best friend is a Japanese girl whose family is taken away, and that event changes his life forever.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan
Never did think I'd enjoy a book about zombies. Huh. This is a delightfully creepy book for young adults.

Gravity vs. The Girl, by Riley Noehren
This is a self-published book, and as such, I want to mention it, because they're hard to get the word out about--and people often dismiss them, because self-published books can be junk. This one is not (yes, it had a few typos, but perfect typesetting does not a good book make). This novel is an absolute riot: great characters, awesome story, and so much more. For lack of a better term, it's paranormal chick lit, and it was a great read. I really hope to see more of this writer soon.

I've read tons of great books this year, so that's a taste of just a few of my favorites. I always keep a running list of books I read each year so I can refer to it. I love going back to see what I read and when. (And then I like to see if I can out-read myself from the year before.)

Any titles you recommend from this year?


Kristina P. said...

I really want to read the Columbine one. I talk about that in my anger management class.

Heffalump said...

Hmmm. I enjoyed The Hunger Games, The Graveyard Book, and InkDeath. I also enjoyed reading Farworld: Water Keep and Jessica Day George's Dragon Slippers and Dragon Flight books. I'm a bit behind on new books coming out and haven't been reading as much as I used to.
Your list has some titles that intrigue me though...I think I will have to pick a few of them up!

Anonymous said...

You are an eclectic reader but I'm very excited to read many of the books you listed. My husband might not thank you for the price tag but let's keep that one between us, huh?

Luisa Perkins said...

Excellent! I love lists like this, and I can always trust your taste.

Rebecca Irvine said...

Some of these are on my list--now I will have to get to them faster. I love recommendations from authors.

annie valentine said...

I'm finally reading the Hunger Games. I like you enough that I put my amazing book down to stop and say hi. Happy New Year my friend!

Loralee and the gang... said...

Thank you for this list! I will find some of these to enjoy. I wish I had some titles to recommend to you!

Laura said...

Thanks for sharing your list. I'm always looking for another good read.

* said...

As a bibiliophile, librarian & list lover, I enjoy seeing what other people enjoy reading. I like your eclectic taste!

I've always meant to read Catch-22. Your review of it has me curious again. The Columbine book also strikes me as an interesting one, however dark it may be.

wendy said...

I haven't read any of those. Better check some out of our little country library that they usually have to Send Out for the books I ask for.
I love to read. I have to be careful that blogging doesn't rob me of all my reading time.

soon I will be starting the book The Help

A GAL NEEDS... said...

I know two great books I've read this year--they would be, 'Tower of Strength', and 'Spires of Stone'. I enjoyed both and appreciate your list of books that you've enjoyed! Thanks much!

Melanie Jacobson said...

I just finished Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet a couple of days ago and enjoyed it. I read Catch-22 years ago and I think Yossarian may live in my memory forever. And I really liked Seeking Persephone. I'm excited to see how her Covenant book comes out. It's been a long time since I enjoyed a Regency that didn't feel totally formulaic. I think we can expect good things from Ms. Eden for sure.

Annette Lyon said...

I'm making a list of some new books to read . . .

and Helena, thanks for the sweet note!

Amanda D said...

I have a similar post brewing. It's up on Monday. I really loved "So B. It" by Sarah Weeks (I think) and "Recovering Charles" by Jason F. Wright.

I'll have to look into some of these books! Thanks.

kanishk said...

..I think I will have to pick a few of them up!

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