2009 Reading Round Up

S., Skylar and I returned early last evening from Michigan. I had a wonderful, relaxing time with my parents and was also fortunate to see many friends throughout my time there. I am, of course, keening for some sort of routine at this point, since it is so easy to sink into the retired lives of my parents, where getting oneself to the gym and perhaps accomplishing one other task before cocktail hour is considered a full day, but with S. already on a plane headed south and myself following suit on Wednesday (separate trips for work for both of us) I am instead embracing the ad hoc nature of this December. It seems like a good day for the annual 2009 Reading Round Up. I am much happier with my reading this year than I was last year – I’ve discovered so many new authors, read so many good books! I’m coming to terms with the fact that as long as I work a full-time job and write I probably won’t read as much as I would like to, and I am much more comfortable with that than I was this time last year. Since I’ve done this reading roundup for two years now, I enjoy turning to the categories I created in previous years to see if any of  the books I’ve read in 2009 fit into them, before creating new categories for this year. So, firstly – categories from this time, 2 years ago, that apply:

1. Book I lent to the most people: The Given Day, Dennis LeHane. Such a great historical novel! It takes a little getting used to if you are expecting just another Pat and Angie mystery but once you fall into this book it takes a long time to disentagle yourself from the power of the writing.

2. Scariest book: True Evil, Gregory Isles. Not a particularly good book, but for out and out scary it fits the bill – fortunately for me I read the majority of it while sitting by the pool at my hotel in Orlando while on a business trip.

3. Best book I read recommended by a fellow blogger: Stranger on a Train, Jenny Diski – thank you, Dorothy!

4. Most intriguing book: The Early Journals of Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff.

5. Hands-down, by far, my absolute favorite book of the year: What I Loved, Suri Hustvedt (I actually reviewed this book, I loved it so much! Well, you all know how I feel about this book…)

6. Book that I didn’t enjoy in the beginning, but totally won me over by the end: The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger. Okay, okay – y’all were right. I just had to be patient. Definitely worth working past my irritation with the initial one hundred pages.

Wow, six catagories from 2007 still apply today…that’s actually more than I thought would hold up when I started. Now, for categories from 2008:

7. Annual author I try because my dad recommends him, but this year (unlike previous years) I actually agreed with my father’s recommendation: Don Winslow

Okay, um, rather embarrassing to admit only only one category from last year applies…onto this year!

8. The ONLY book my dog ate for reasons unbeknownst to me that, while I was enjoying it while I was reading it, I was much too lazy to replace and finish: The Loved One, Evelyn Waugh.

9. The book that WOULD have been my favorite of the year if Hustvedt hadn’t shown up so late to the game and trumped it: Winter’s Tale, Mike Helprin. Oh my goodness, if you haven’t read this I HIGHLY recommend it for a January read, or even this month, if you are searching for something. It’s an absolutely beautiful book with some of the most amazing characters I’ve come across and spectacular settings.

10. Author everyone else has been reading for years and years that I only recently began enjoying: Annie Proulx.

11. Biggest name-dropping and possibly most sexist book of the year: Losing Mum and Pup, Christopher Buckley. Did. Not. Like.

12. Book that helped the most in clarifying my own goals for my novel: Gate at the Stairs, Lorrie Moore. You won’t find me raving about this book like a lot of bloggers out there since it raised for me some serious questions – to begin with I had trouble believing in the narrator’s absolute isolation – but I agree it is an absolutely beautifully constructed book and if one wants to know how to write, well, read this book. Much of it is perfect.

I read a lot of good books this year, and fewer than half of them are named here, but these are the titles and authors that stood out to me in one way or another most significantly. When I was reviewing my 2008 categories I noticed I made a below-the-radar mention that I hoped to increase my reading to 25 books in 2009 – I read 26. Since such an understate goal worked well for last year, I’ll note here that I hope to read at least 30 books in 2010.  All signs point to the distinct possibility of this happening…thanks to the blogging world I have an endless “to be read” list and more authors I’ve wanted to try than ever before! Happy reading, everyone!

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11 Responses to 2009 Reading Round Up

  1. laura says:

    What a great list! I’d do something like this myself if I’d been able to finish more than five books this year, lol!

    I’d love to read many of these. I have Gate at the Stairs bought and ready to read – I love Lorrie Moore, so I can’t wait!

    Wow, 30 books! That’s more than two a month! Good luck! You do thirty next year, and I’ll aim for fifteen 🙂

  2. Burgh Baby says:

    You have made me realize how much of an epic failure 2009 was for reading for me. If it didn’t have lots of pretty pictures and simple words, I probably didn’t get to it. I’m going to have to fix that for 2010. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. shoreacres says:

    Oh, sigh. Hanging around all you readers gives me a complex – I just can’t figure out how to read and write, both.

    On the other hand, I’ve done immense amounts of research for some of my blog entries, and read great piles of articles, monographs, other blogs, journals. So I’ve been reading in some ways – just not sit-in-a-corner-with-a-book.

    Maybe this will be the year I get organized enough to follow in your footsteps!

  4. Dorothy W. says:

    I’m SO glad you liked the Diski! Isn’t she amazing?

  5. litlove says:

    That’s a wonderful list and I’m really looking forward to reading Jenni Diski – also on Dorothy’s excellent suggestion!

  6. Karen says:

    I love your categories! I had to be patient with The Time Traveler’s Wife too (my best friend had to convince me it was worth it) but I am so glad I was – it is definitely one of my all time favourites.

  7. Emily Barton says:

    Well, of COURSE your dog ate The Loved One. It’s all about a pet cemetery. And now my TBR challenge is doing me no good, because I’ve practically replaced half of the 20 books I’ll be reading with 20 more just reading this one post. But here’s a surprise: for once, you and I were not alike. I fell immediately into The Time Traveler’s Wife and mourned its ending.

  8. Courtney says:

    Laura – the lorrie moore has one of the best endings of any book I have read, well, ever. Seriously, I didn’t know two lines could win me over like that!
    Burgh Baby – you are busy taking care of that beautiful girl! If you love reading definitely try to find time for it but don’t beat yourself up about it…your blog is amazing. And, also – Cleveland? CLEVELAND???
    Shoreacres…it is REALLY hard to balance writing and reading. I probably read twice as much before I started writing…and there is something to be said, I think, for not allowing too many competing narratives in your head when you are actively writing!
    Dorothy – TOTALLY amazing. I want to read Skating to Antarctica next.
    Litlove – I really recommend Diski – she’s an incredible writer!
    Karen – it did take some time but oh, how I loved that book by the end.
    Emily – I am laughing as I write this because i totally FORGOT the Loved One is about a Pet Cemetary…it’s all rushing back to me now and of course now I want to buy it…

  9. Cam says:

    I’m worried now that I some how missed the sexism in Losing Mum and Pup. But maybe it’s because I breezed through it quickly and have now forgotten almost everything except for Buckley’s weird assessment of being a middle-aged orphan. It’s definitely a different stage of life, and one that you can’t be fully prepared for, but I’ve never thought of it as being orphaned. I think anyone would write a much different book about the loss of one’s parents if it weren’t written within the first few months of bereavement. Not that that would be an apology for sexism; but I didn’t like it enough to care to go back to figure out what I either have missed or, more likely, forgotten. C. Buckley does make me laugh occassionaly, even when I disagree with him; unlike W. Buckley who would infuriate me with his positions although I could respect his obvious intelligence. I’m sure WFB would be skewering republicans right now for the outright silliness they are wallowing it currently.

  10. Amanda says:

    Great way of showcasing what you’ve read! I put What I Loved on my TBR list. Sounds interesting!

  11. Stefanie says:

    I love this time of year when everyone’s reading lists begin to appear. Yours was very fun to read. Congrats on exceeding your reading goal and I hope you have many hours of happy reading next year when reaching the 30 book goal!

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