January 2, 2010

2009 in Books

I like to read.  Often times, I feel like the frequency of new to old books can be considered as a sort of barometer for my mood.

How am I feeling?  Am I stressed, tired, in need of a comforting, familiar voice?  Or am I refreshed, adventurous - looking for something new and exciting?  Is it time to stay at home, or go out into the unknown to see where that leads?

I put these in chronological order, and I probably didn't remember all of them, but here it is in all it's meager glory:

1. Anansai Boys, by Neil Gaiman.  I more than likely read a couple of things in January (like how about when I went on my trip to D.C.) and February, but I specifically remember reading this book when I went with KC to New York.  And I know that I bought Geek Love while we were in NY, but I haven't finished it yet.  Anyways, Neil Gaiman is amazing and this is a fantastic book.

2. True Believer, by Nicholas Sparks.  I'm sure this isn't on anyone's top 10 list, but don't forget about the stressed, tired, comforting voice that I needed this year.  This book joined the 6 other ones by him on my shelf.

3. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh.  I've been wanting to read this book for a long time and after I saw this, I knew it was time.  This book is loaded and is not necessarily a light read, but was definitely one of my favorites this year.  And incidentally, the reason that I went to see Bright Star was because of Ben Whitshaw and it ended up being one of my favorite movies of 2009.

4. The Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.  Does it count if it was a reading assignment for class?  Even if I read it in a week when we were spending 3 times that long on it in class?  The graphic novel = epic.  The movie sucked.

5. The Wasteland, by T.S. Eliot.  This was for class, too.  And it's technically a poem.  But I loved it, which was totally unexpected.

6. The Dying Animal, by Philip Roth.  Okay, now we're in June or July.  I read this book in Spain.  Krystle bought it and I read it after her.  It was a little disturbing and there is definitely some imagery that I will never be able to erase... but, remember the go out into the unknown and see where that leads attitude?  Yeah, I was in the phase.

7. Bonk, by Mary Roach.  I became interested in Mary Roach when I read something, although I cannot for the life of me remember what, that was written by her in a magazine.  I remember it as being something that most people think of as non-scientific, but she explained it terms of science and I definitely had an "aha!" moment.  I found this book in a little shop near the Camden Market in London.  I was soo happy to find something in english that didn't cost 25 euros.  Her writing is hilariously funny and you'll definitely learn a lot of science and history.

8. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle.  I obviously lost a couple of months between June and September, but whatever.  I'd been staring at my Madeleine L'Engle book set and suddenly thought to myself, "what the hell happens in that book??" so I read it again.  It was fantastic.

9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling.  Most people have a favorite Harry Potter book.  For the first 6 books that had come out, my favorite had always been HP 3.  I mean, that book was incredible.  But nothing, nothing compares to this one.  It's just unbelievably, undeniably good.  I was 11 when my mom got me the first Harry Potter book for Christmas, and I was a week away from 20 when I finished this one.  Here, she's not writing for children anymore.  I'm not sure she ever was.

10. The Penelopiad, by Margaret Atwood.  Just to round out a year filled with mythology.  I've always been very interested in Odysseus' stalwart wife, Penelope.  Did she know about his unfaithfulness?  Did she have indiscretions of her own in his absence?  Does she know that the homeless beggar is him?  Do they plan everything together, or is she just  thrilled to not be stuck with a suitor?  This was a very interesting take on that famous poem from Penelope's point of view.

11. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman.  My favorite of his books, and possibly the most creative thing I've ever read.  Soon, Mr. Gaiman is going to need his own shelf.

12. The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown.  Yes, I finished it.  Actually, once I committed to starting it, I finished it relatively fast - at least, at the pace I've been going.  It started off a little slow, but I got really into the end, even if it left a little to be desired.  Digital Fortress is still one of my favorites, though, and I should probably re-read Angel & Demons.

As a bonus for getting to the end of this list, here are 3 books that I read every year, and sometimes even more often than that.

13. Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen.  Probably one of the oldest and rattiest books that I own, with dog-earred pages and a cracked spine, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  I love it's worn-ness because it reminds me of all the times I've spent getting lost in it.

14. Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine.  I think I got this book around the same time that I got my first Harry Potter book, maybe a year earlier.  It's completely perfect in every way and I can't imagine a better story to buy for or read to a young girl.  Make fun of me if you want, but just try reading it - you won't be able to stop.

15. Celia Garth: A Story of Charleston in the Revolution, by Gwen Bristow.  Gwen Bristow probably had it hard enough as a woman, trying to write accurate, historical fiction in the 70's, let alone stories with strong female characters.  But she's a very gifted writer and her stories are incredibly inspirational.  If not this one then how about Calico Palace (which I'm also fairly certain I read this year) or Jubilee Trail?

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