2009 A year in review. At least, bookwise

So, I took forever to get around to updating the list because I had a list on my blackberry, stopped using it, a pile of books tacked up, I wrote them all down in a notebook and shelved them, and then another pile began. Coordinating it all required the right mindset. But anyway. Here’s the list with various comments. For further boring details of me trying to get a job, see the other entry from earlier today.

I didn’t really have a number goal, unlike last year, though I did vaguely have the goal of reading more non-fiction. It sort of worked.

1.The Elegance of the Hedgehog- Muriel Barbery

One of my christmas books. It was good. A little slow and contemplative, but a nice story. Sad, though, and a little frustrating because of that. I would have liked it to be a little longer, and had more from the girl’s point of view.

2.Apathy(r)- Paul Neilan

This book is awesome. I wanted a nice familiar funny reread, and this fit the bill. Sort of a murder mystery. But better.

3.The Thought Gang(r)- Tobor Fischer

Also awesome, but occasionally more belabored. The two are linked in my mind, since John gave them to me at the same time, so I had to read both.

4. After the War- Alice Adams

Meh. It was okay.

5. Color- Victoria Findlay

Non-fiction! A nice exploration of how pigments were/are made, and the history of their use. Fun to read, and not too pedantic

6. Perfect Figures- Bunny Crumpacker

Let’s all take a moment to snicker at the author’s name. And then move on. The book was really good. Very repetitive after about 3, rehashing the origins of the previous numbers a bit, but still awfully interesting. And some good random trivia facts.

7. On The Beach- Nevil Shute

Very good. Post apocalyptic fiction. Nuclear radiation slowly moving towards Australia, and everyone just waiting for the sickness to start. Very well done. Apparently the movie is really good as well.

8. The Wordy Shipmates- Sarah Vowell

This was pretty good. And more non-fiction! A much better version of the pilgrims etc than I ever got in school

9. Watchmen- Alan Moore, and Dave Gibbons

Kind of awesome. I’m not much a fan of comics and graphic novels, I have a hard time following what’s happening with the words all over the place and everything. But this was good, especially Dr Manhattan’s story part, very well done.

10. The Magic Journey-John Nichols

This sucked. I was so dissapointed. Technically, this shouldn’t be on the list since I didn’t finish it. Maybe some day. I really liked the other two in this series, and this just didn’t hook me at all.

11. The Coming Plague-Laurie Garrett

Infectious diseases! How they’re adapting to all the various things we do to try to stop them! Lot’s of fun. Somewhat terrifying. Very interesting.

12. God Knows- Joseph Heller

This was pretty good. Something Happened is still my favorite of his (other than Catch 22, of course. Nothing really touches that), but this story of David post-Goliath was pretty good.

13. Life of Pi-YannMartel

I loved this. There’s a tiger on a lifeboat. What’s not to love?

14. Huck Finn(r)- Mark Twain


15. Timequake(r)- Kurt Vonnegut

Other favorite. Possibly my favorite of all he’s written.

16. Year of Miracles- Geraldine Brooks

Not as compelling as her other book, but interesting. And the Plague is always fun.

17. Jude the Obscure- Thomas Hardy

This was fantastic. So down-trodden and depressing so so well done, and beautiful and I can see how it’s not for everyone, but I loved it.

18. Fugitive Pieces- Anne Michaels

Very interesting. I always forget that Greece had anything to do with WW2, but apparently Germany invaded it. And there were Jews there. This was an interesting book.

19. Ishmael- Daniel Quinn

Hmm. This started out good. And then turned frustrating. And then in the end I just wanted to argue with and yell at the writer and point out all the things he was wrong about. Because he was. So… it made me think? So that’s good? The whole thing is a conversation, and the guy in it is sometimes really retarded, just so that the author can introduce ideas the way he wants. Which is fine, but really. Just write a manifesto or something then. Sheesh.

20. Justine- Lawrence Durrell

Plod. Plod plod plod. But I liked it once I’d finished it. Once I could look back and see the whole piece, it turned interesting. Which is on interesting effect.

21. House of Leaves- Mark Z. Danielewski

Good grief. The idea behind this, of this house with a shifting interior of supernatural origin, was really interesting. Those parts were great. But that story was wrapped in another, and the other was weird and superfluous.

22. The Losers Club-Richard Perez

Meh. Boring. Good for a short read, don’t think I’ll reread it.

23. Balthazar- Lawrence Durrell

Second in the… not series. What to call it. Not sure. Anyway. Similar in that I liked it better at the end, but I also liked it better than Justine in general. It was pretty much the same story, from a different angle.

24. Three Junes- Julia Glass

Good beach read.

25. Sarah’s Key- Tatiana de Rosnay

Oh man. So, a bunch of these (Three Junes included) my mom lent me to read while I was at Camp. Almost all of them were depressing. Three Junes wasn’t so much, but it had it’s moments. And then we go to this. Holocaust story! Very good one, well done, and about part of the French occupation, not a story I’d heard much about before. So it was good, but not something to read at a summer camp. Eesh.

26. Taken- Edward Bloor

Young Adult Sci Fi. Pretty decent, and a quick read. Some kid left it on the lunch table.

27. Somebody Else’s Daughter- Elizabeth Brundage

More depressing! It was good, except you go along, there’s a story, and then wham, everything all collides and there’s a bunch of horrible stuff right at the end. And then there’s an epilogue wrap up a few months later, and everything seems pretty much back to being good. That was unsatisfying and annoying.

28. The Brief and Wonderous life of Oscar Wao- Junot Diaz

This was great. I didn’t like it as much as all the raving people said I would, but I did really like it.

29. Twilight- Stephanie Meyers

Jesus. I was curious. I read it as fast as I could. Which wasn’t hard since it’s so repetitive and substanceless. Apparently it’s a 4th grade reading level book. This explains a lot.

30. The Widow’s Season- Laura Brodie

Sad. But good. But weird.

31. St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised by Wolves- Karen Russell

Weird. Dislikeably weird. A collection of short stories.

32. Sonata for Miriam- Linda Olsson

Slow and sort of pretty, but not terribly engaging.

33. In The Woods- Tana French

Really good. I stayed up too late reading this a few times. I like murder mysteries that are not quite that straightforward. The end was sad.

34. American Wife- Curtis Sittenfeld

Apparently, this is a sort of parallel of Laura Bush’s life. It was very good. I liked the progression of everything.

35. Ellen Tebbits- Beverly Cleary

Does this really count? It’s like a 45 page kids book. Whatever. It’s a good story.

36. Breaking Dawn- Stephanie Meyers

Ooh. I was of course curious, even with all the suckage from the last book. So I read the 4th. It was just as bad. Maybe worse.

37. Object Lessons- Anna Quindlen

This, however, was good. It was a story of a glimpse of a chunk of people’s lives. I like those. Not particularly resolved or unresolved at the end, you can imagine that the characters keep on living. And she’s a good storyteller.

38. Which Witch?- Ibbotson

When I stay at my parent’s house now, I sleep in the living room, tucked in between some giant bookshelves and a fireplace. There are a lot of kids books lying around. If I were 9, this would have been pretty good.

39. A Month in the Country- J L Carr

I wanted this to be longer.

40. Benny and Shrimp- Matarina Mazetti

Very good. A little sad. Another chunk-of-life book.

41. The Silver Nutmeg(r)- Palmer Brown

I am so bummed that this is out of print. It’s a kids book about a pond portal to this world with really low gravity. It’s fantastic.

42. Here If You Need Me- Kate Braestrup

Memoir, sort of, about a minister for the forest service in Maine, working with search and rescue rangers. Really touching well told story. Made me like ministers more. At least, the ones in Maine.

43. Ballet Shoes- Noel Streatfield

Meh. Good kids book, lots of deus ex machina. But not in a bad way.

44. Mountolive- Lawrence Durrell

Third in the group! This was where it all started getting more interesting, and things started tying together.

45. Outliers- Malcolm Gladwell

10,000 hours of practice to be really successful at something. And a good bit of luck. And some non-luck. This was really interesting. Also, somewhat depressing.

46. Once Upon a Quinceanera- Julia Alvarez

With all the giant sweet 16 junk on mtv and all, this was a nice look at where the hispanic part of that comes from, and the forms it takes.

47. Persian Girls- Nahid Rachlin

This was beautiful. Possibly my favorite memoir. It was lovely and sad and explained the whole messy history in Iran in a clear understandable way. Everyone should read it.

48. The Scandal of the Season- Sophie Gee

Meh. Fun to read.

49. Clea- Lawrence Durrell

The final! It was great. You really have to read all four, though, for this to be any good. And it was.

50. The Deceitful Marriage and Other Exemplary Novels- Miguel Cervantes

Oog. It was okay, for the most part, but not to my taste. I especially liked the part where one girl tells another that the more a man beats you, the more he loves you. I couldn’t tell if that was serious or not. That aside, tough language to read. Probably would have gone better if I hadn’t read the majority of it in bits on the subway.

51. The Borrowers Afloat- Mary Norton

I don’t think I’d read this one before. But I love the Borrowers and their tiny lives under the floor boards.

52. Uncle Tom’s Cabin- Harriet Beecher Stowe

This was fantastic, and totally not what I expected. I loved it. And the term Uncle Tom rather does a disservice to the book.

53. Queen’s Own Fool- Jane Yolen and Robert Harris

I like books about Mary Queen of Scots. So this fit right in. Though I think I’d already read it, parts kept seeming familiar.

54. Blue Shoe- Annie Lamott

Blah. I figured everything out way ahead of the characters and was vaguely bored and annoyed. But it really wasn’t that bad. It was just sort of flat.

55. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes- Anita Loos

Short and sort of funny, and all in this great tone that sticks in your head and you almost catch yourself talking like it. Or at least I did.

56. Little House in the Big Woods(r)- Laura Ingalls Wilder

Not going to comment on all of these, just that I reread them, and they’re fantastic. All the descriptions of how things were done, and what everything was like. She leaves some stuff out, I really want to get a copy of the original first draft.

57. Little House on the Prairie(r)- Laura Ingalls Wilder

58. On the Banks of Plum Creek(r)- Laura Ingalls Wilder

59. The Long Winter(r)- Laura Ingalls Wilder

60. Racoons are the Best People- Sterling North

I love how he writes about animals. Another book that everyone should read.

61. Far From the Madding Crowd- Thomas Hardy

Yay Thomas Hardy. Not as good as Jude, but the same style that I really like.

62. A Little Princess- Frances Hodge Burnett

Jesus, she’s way too perfect. But somehow not annoying.

63. Farmer Boy(r)- Laura Ingalls Wilder

64. Her Last Death- Susanna Sonnenberg

Weird memoir. Very good, but man, what a life. Eesh.

65. The Likeness- Tana French

Sort of sequel to In The Woods. Possibly better than it. This was fantastic. I think I read it in one sitting.

66. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- Steig Larsson

Holy crap disturbing. I mean, a great book, though some of the plot diversions seemed weird and unnecessary, he had a point to all of them. But man. Eech.

67. The Jane Austen Book Club- Karen Joy Fowler

Oh, this was cute. It was fun to read. That’s about it.

68. When You are Engulfed in Flames- David Sedaris

I love David Sedaris. That covers it.

69. These Happy Golden Years(r)- Laura Ingalls Wilder

70. By The Shores of Silver Lake(r)- Laura Ingalls Wilder

71. The Crying Tree- Naseem Rakha

Not sure what I expected, but this wasn’t it, and that turned out to be a good thing. Really interesting and absorbing.

72. The Good Thief- Hannah Tinti

Gah. I didn’t like this. I’m not sure why.

73. The Secret Garden(r)- Frances Hodge Burnett

Always a good book

74. The Final Solution- Michael Chabon

Did not like. Again, not sure why. It was just kind of tangled and incomprehensible. I think I need to reread it in a different mood, maybe.

75. Unaccustomed Earth- Jhumpa Lahiri

Good short stories. I really like her writing.

76. The Prince of Tides- Pat Conroy

This was really good, but really sappy. Thick, syrupy writing. Really pretty sometimes, but it just keeps going. But I did like it.

77. Little Town on the Prairie(r)- Laura Ingalls Wilder

78. Young Pioneers- Rose Wilder Lane

Laura’s daughter! This was a sort of adult version of a bit of the Little House books. It was really good. I like her writing a lot, and it was interesting to see the contrast.

79. Life Among the Savages/Raising Demons- Shirley Jackson

Memoirsish of the woman who wrote The Lottery, among others. Constantly funny. It occurs to me that she’s sort of the original mommy-blogger. It’s that sort of style, a bit. A lot of fun.

Oof. I get a little bored of writing bits about halfway through. I’m sure everyone else gets bored of reading them long before that. Oh well. There’s my year. All in all, a pretty decent one.


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