Friday, February 19, 2010

Laura’s Top Ten Books of 2009

I’m a little late getting to my annual list of favorite books of the year. My top ten books include books I read in the year 2009, but that weren’t necessarily published in 2009. I didn’t count books that I read again for at least a second time as I obviously love them, such as Wuthering Heights, Sense and Sensibility, Outlander, My Sister’s Keeper, Twilight, etc.

I read many good books in the year 2009 and was excited to join challenges for the first time, such as The Victorian Challenge , The Everything Austen Challenge, and The Classics Challenge. The books I picked for this list are books that I read, thought about, pondered, and have stayed with me through the year. (Also see my top picks for 2007 and 2008).

In no particular order, my top ten books of 2009:

1. Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons: This was my first graphic novel, and it was definitely a great first impression. Moore and Gibbon’s tale of an alternate world populated by super heroes was fascinating and thought provoking. The story, within a story “The Black Freighter” was also riveting and provided a great parallel to the story.

2. The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee: The Piano Teacher was an unforgettable love story set in Hong Kong at the start of WWII. It was a painful story of what one sometimes has to do to survive.

3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett: The Help is a multi-faceted story, on one hand it is a great story about racism in the 1960’s south, but on the other hand, it is the story of a group of very strong women and their friendship. Overall, it is unforgettable.

4. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith: I read many great Jane Austen spin-offs this year as part of the Everything Austen Challenge. PP&Z was my favorite though as it was a totally original concept that made me laugh out loud . . . a lot! Seth Grahame-Smith kept much of Austen’s original text, but changed just enough to create a great Zombie story. I like how Grahame-Smith was able to make a lot of inside jokes that Pride and Prejudice lovers would love as you read through the book. Now there are a lot of similar type spin-offs, but I’m not sure about them. For more serious spin-offs, I loved The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview and I think it is the best Pride and Prejudice sequel I have ever read.

5. An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon: I LOVE Diana Gabaldon. The only thing I don’t love is the long wait in between the books of her Outlander series. The long wait for An Echo in the Bone did not disappoint. It was a great novel and the only negative was that it had to end. The Outlander series is a fantastic historical fiction saga with great love, great characters, and great description. If you haven’t read the Outlander series, what are you waiting for?

6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: I finally read this classic for the first time and loved it. In beautiful prose, Bradbury wrote a great adventure story that includes the evils of banning books as well as the evils of being caught up too much in an electronic world.

7. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder: What is the meaning of random “Acts of God?” Are some people’s lives worth more than others? This beautiful and short book explores very deep themes. I loved it!

8. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout: Olive is not a woman that I liked, but her story is unforgettable. My entire book club loved this book and all for different reasons. A series of short stories that all involve the character of Olive Kitteridge, this book was a very interesting study on perception.

9. True Compass by Edward M. Kennedy: Whatever your politics, Ted Kennedy lived a fascinating life. His candid biography was riveting and really brought history to life.

10. Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan: I listened to the audiobook of Say You’re One of Them, and it was painful at times. It is hard to believe that such evil can still exist in the world. The stories did make you think about what it means to be human and what life is like outside of the United States.

And for a Bonus, a good light book for a good laugh, Bet Me by Jennifer Cruise.

What are your thoughts on these books? What favorite books did you have in 2009?


  1. I have just started the Outlander series. Good to know that Echo in the Bone is great even though its so far into the series!

  2. Laura, I admire your ability to choose your top ten reads in 2009. I'm not sure I could compose such a list.

    Just a few things: I'm so glad that you liked P&P&Z. I actually had a giveaway for that book. Did you know it's going to be made into a movie?

    I've read Fahrenheit 451, but it was a long time ago, and I'm due for a reread. I still haven't read Outlander, although I know I will--it's just a matter of when. Many of these sound quite intriguing, and are on my TBR list.

  3. I haven't read many of them so I'm glad you've listed them. I want to go check them out.


  4. I finally read Outlander (in January) and really enjoyed it. Looking forward to the second book. I also liked The Help and The Piano Teacher. I thought Olive Kitteridge was ok. I actually have Bet Me on my Kindle and hope to read it in the next few months. It came highly recommended.
    Here's hoping 2010 has many books for your Favorites list!

  5. Interesting assortment of books, Laura. I'm completely with you on Diana Gabaldon; I savor every word she writes! She's my top fav current author.

  6. I love the Outlander series as well...probably the best series for escapism. It helps to have one of her books on a long flight and just go to Jamie and Clare land. I really liked The Help! Haven't read too many of the others, but may have to pick up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. A few of my favorite books of 2009 were Oryx and Crake, The Book Thief, Sarah's Key, Garden Spells, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and The Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. I'm listening to the audio of The Book Thief now, and it is terrific!

  7. I have heard a lot of negative feedback on Olive Kitteredge so I'm glad to see you enjoyed it. I'm planning on reading it this year.

  8. Fascinating list! Thanks for sharing!

    Bill ;-)

    Hope you'll check out my book giveaway:

  9. Thanks for posting your list Laura. There are a couple on here I've been hoping to read but just haven't gotten to them yet.

  10. Great comments everyone! If anyone else has a similar list on their blog, feel free to post. I love reading what books people loved.

    Emily - I've finally convinced my book club to read The Book Thief. It's on my nightstand now! I need to check out some of your other books . . . but some such as Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society are my favorite books from previous years!

  11. What a great idea! I know its a bit late but i might do the same thing and leave a link here later! You read some great books

  12. I'm excited to see True Compass on your list since I just picked it up from my parents this weekend.

  13. Glad to hear you liked Echo in the Bone--it's on the pile waiting for the right time to be read, but soon, soon!