More Thoughts on 2009’s Reading

My top reads from 2009 in no particular order:     (I gave these 12 the coveted Five Pie Slice Rating)

Alphabet Juice by Roy Blount Jr
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Looking For Alaska by John Green
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer

Four of these books were read in July.    Two were read in April.        I think The Giver is the only one on the list I might move down a rating.

And on that note, of the books I gave 4 slices of pie, I would have to say many rise to the top now after a few months of thinking and comparing so the following are getting extra whipped cream:

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden
Green Grass Running Water by Thomas King

For fun and silliness, let’s group by odd categories, shall we?

I read two books that had the WEDNESDAY in the title:   The Wednesday Sisters and The Wednesday Letters. I had no intention for this = just happened.

I only read one book that had PIE in the title!   (see my top 12)     After wanting to read more books about books and/or words or had some kind of bookish theme, I really only read 3:   The Book Thief, 84 Charing Cross Road and Alphabet Juice.     But reconsidering, I must protest that The Help was about writing a book and The Wednesday Sisters was about a writing group.  The Jane Austen Book Club was (doh) about a book club, as was the Guernsey Lit Society.    The Blind Assassin had a book within a book, and oh what a wild book it was.

The Orchid Thief and Sarah’s Key had journalists as protagonists.     A few books featured teachers:  A Lesson Before Dying, Mister Pip, Olive KitteridgeStill Alice, and One True Theory of Love.

I failed to keep track of books that actually had pie mentioned – there were a few (The Help, anyone?) and I also failed but want to try to be better in 2010, to track prize winners.     Olive Kitteridge’s Pulitzer is the only one I can say for sure.    Coetzee’s and Atwood’s won the Booker according to what notes I do have.   Looking for Alaska won the Printz for YA?

I read about vampires in Twilight, zombies in Pride&Prejudice&Zombies, ghosts in Her Fearful Symmetry, angels in The Vintner’s Luck, and all sorts of creatures in that other world invented by Tolkein in The Hobbit.    I guess sinister magic is what kept Bradbury’s books so lively (The Halloween Tree and Something Wicked This Way Comes) but the magic in Chocolat was something else, too.

I read a few debut novels I was very impressed with:    Still Alice,  Last Night in Montreal by Emily St John Mandel, and The Help.

Without really even trying, I read 8 books from the 1001 Books to Read Before I Die /Well Read Challenge:    The Blind Assassin, Their Eyes Were Watching God, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Lolita, The Awakening, The Remains of the Day, Life and Times of Michael K, and The Hobbit.

Again, I didn’t officially sign up for Color Online Challenge, but am glad I read the following books that touched on racism:  the Hurston book was astonishing, A Lesson Before Dying was moving,  Mister Pip and My Sweet Charlie were both heartbreaking, The Help was so many things, and the Alexie book just darn good.   And The Life and Times of Michael K - what a strange quiet but powerful book that was excellent in creating a time and place so different than any I’ve ever known.     I didn’t sign up for the War and Generations Challenge but many books would have fit for that:   The Book Thief, Sarah’s Key, Guernsey Lit Society, and even a bit of The Remains of the Day for WWII;  Owen Meany and Father of All Things for Vietnam.

I dropped the ball on tracking books for The Science Challenge but here were my offerings:   Mauve:   How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World by Simon Garfield, Proust Was a Neuroscientist, Sacks’ The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (which is referenced in the Lehrer’s Proust book), and possibly stretching a bit to include but what heck, The Geography of Bliss. Maybe Thunderstruck, too.    oh!  The Orchid Thief was for the Science Challenge!

Speaking of geography and bliss, I consider that a travel book, and could also count The Father of All Things which was my FIRST audio book and has me interested in visiting Vietnam.    Shooting the Boh and The Coast of Summer were also travel/adventure books that I enjoyed.

I read my first e-book: False Witness by Anita Rodgers.   I’ve gotten to know the author and her thoughts, politics, and great sense of humor by following her blog The Writer Chick.

I read my first graphic novels this year:   Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Rick Geary’s The Borden Tragedy.   I want more.

Something Wicked This Way Comes was a re-attempt that I actually finished and Foer’s Extemely Loud and Incredibly Close was a re-attempt that I re-shelved hoping third time will be a charm.  Someday.     I moved Anna Karenina around to different bookshelf and piles throughout the year and I don’t even know where my Einstein book is.    (Both were goals for 2009)

I attempted twelve challenges;   satisfactorily completed RIPIV, World Citizen, Dewey, Lit Flicks, a few Book Menages, Women Writers in March, New Zealand, and Literary Road Trip.    Abandoned the Science Challenge and not sure about the Austen Challenge (if it was for only one book – then I succeeded).     My perpetual Stalking Chartroose Challenge had me only reading two books: Remains of the Day and Popular Music From Vittula. Women Unbound will be a top priority as it continues in 201o.

Now, let’s stop looking at these lists and start reading some NEW books already, shall we!??!?!      (I’ve read 26 pages so far this year…)

25 Responses to “More Thoughts on 2009’s Reading”


  1. 1 Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) January 4, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Great wrap up post! Looking for Alaska and Nothing But Ghosts made my best-of lists for 2009, too.

    And I’m thinking that The Book Thief really needs to be among those I read in 2010 ….

    • 2 Care January 4, 2010 at 2:37 pm

      Thanks Melissa! I love reading everyone’s write ups. It gets me all excited to talk about books and challenges and blogging and … But I must stop and get back to the reading!!

  2. 3 Eva January 4, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    This post was so fun to read Care!!! :D

    • 4 Care January 4, 2010 at 2:36 pm

      Yep, it’s something (I see a bunch of typos – eek.) To be honest, I was trying to post an answer to your Hobbit discussion Qs! maybe tomorrow…

  3. 5 Lu January 4, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Some really great reads! The Art of Racing in the Rain and Olive Kitteridge were some of my favorite reads this year too!

  4. 6 bermudaonion January 4, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Sounds like you had a great year in books. I’ve only read 3 of your top books, but have 2 others in my TBR pile.

  5. 7 Aarti January 4, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    What a fun post! All those on your Tops list are either some of my favorites or are on my wish list. I like the way you did the remainder of your post, too! I LOVE meeting challenge requirements without even knowing it :-)

  6. 8 softdrink January 4, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    We need a new challenge for 2010…get Chartroose back to blogging!

  7. 10 Amused January 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    What a great post! It made me laugh. I read a few of those books and have a few to read for next year. Happy reading in 2010!

  8. 12 Susan January 4, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I have just received Looking For Alaska! Another excellent review, so it’s top of my TBR pile. The Guerney Lit Pie I also picked for a top read of last year. It was good, wasn’t it? I enjoyed this way of reviewing the year in books. I have to remember this for next year! I just put my post up today……Happy New Year, Care!

  9. 14 charley January 4, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Nice list. A Pray for Owen Meaney is one I’d like to read this year.

  10. 16 Melody January 4, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Great post, Care!
    I’ve only read Looking for Alaska from your top reads, so I look forward to reading the rest hopefully this year! ;)

  11. 17 Jenny January 4, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Excellent wrap-up post! I haven’t been able to get hold of The Help but I am determined to read it this year!

  12. 18 nat @book, line, and sinker January 5, 2010 at 10:41 am

    aarghhhhh! i can’t escape ‘the book thief’!!! lol. but if it’s on the list with ‘the help’ and ‘guernsey…’ i guess i better get to it sooner rather than later!

    as for ‘extremely loud…’ i listened to it as an audiobook and it gave me great pains. i wanted to wing it out the window almost daily but stayed the course. i’m not sure if better for it or not. i guess i’m not highbrow enough to get JSF’s writing. mostly, it just makes me crazy. lol. :) happy 2010!!

  13. 19 Lisa January 5, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    The Housekeeper and The Professor was kind of a sleeper, wasn’t it? I really liked it from the time I read it but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.

  14. 20 litlove January 7, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Happy New Year to you, Care! I love your wrap-up post, and all the funny, clever links you make between your books. I’ve got The Help to read in 2010 (a Christmas present) and I also loved Mister Pip. Here’s to another wonderful reading and blogging year ahead! :)

  15. 21 diaryofaneccentric January 7, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    I absolutely adored Guernsey, and The Book Thief is now one of my all-time faves. Glad to see you really enjoyed Mister Pip. I gave that one to Serena for Christmas and expect to borrow it at some point.

    –Anna

  16. 23 Stephanie January 8, 2010 at 9:53 am

    This year make sure to read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – not only is it a really fun read, but you’ll meet your Pie in the title quota!

  17. 25 sagustocox January 8, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    great recap. don’t you love how your opinion on certain books change as you get some distance between you and the last word.


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