I don’t really want to do a “best of” or “top 10″ since I really didn’t read that many books for pleasure this year (I absolutely cannot be arsed to include books I read for my graduate program). Instead I’ll do a brief round up of a few things just so that this blog doesn’t die immediately.
My books of 2009 fall into 6 principle categories. Without further ado, here they are:
Complete and Absolute Trash
1) The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer-Yes, I read them all, and quickly too. About six weeks before exams I picked the first one up on my way to Budapest and decided to give them a go. To my surprise, it was disturbingly enjoyable, but only in a ‘so bad it’s good’ kind of way. The characters are awful, the plots are awful, the dialogue is horrendous, and the message the books send to girls is appalling. Yet somehow I allowed myself to get involved and had-yes had, to finish them all. Will I be rereading them any time soon? No.
2) The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance by Phillipa Gregory-These shortly followed my involvement with Twilight and also helped carry me through the exam period. I have to say, these aren’t really complete trash. In fact, the first one is actually a pretty decent book. I guess the fact that there are about a million of these books in the series makes me want to place them in the trash section when they could go somewhere else.
3) Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley-Perhaps this shouldn’t really go in trash, but it doesn’t really belong anywhere else either. It was pretty freakin’ funny, but not the best book in the world.
I rarely ever reread books-there are just too many books and not enough time, but I reread a few this year. Probably for the same reasons I read the trash listed above.
1) Kafka on the Shore and Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami-Both excellent the second time around. I actually didn’t love NW the first time I read it but developed a much greater appreciation for it this year.
2) Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi-Still hilarious and perhaps a bit more accessible now that I live in London.
Books that Made Me go ‘Meh’
None of these books was awful but I didn’t exactly love them either.
1) The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
2) White Teeth by Zadie Smith
3) The Road Home by Rose Tremaine-The book was well written but I think I might have needed to have been a bit older to truly enjoy it. A bit of a shame because I have greatly enjoyed a couple of her other books.
4) America America by Ethan Canin-Okay, I actually did hate this one.
1) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens-Didn’t have great expectations (hah!) going in, but loved it by the end.
2) Moby Dick by Herman Melville-Perhaps the most epic book I have ever read. It took quite a while for me to get through but I am very happy I did.
3) Rashomon and 17 Other Stories by Ryuonsuke Akutagawa-Very dark but creative short stories from the Japanese author whose stories inspired Akira Kurosawa.
Here are the more contemporary books I read this year that I found enjoyable.
1) The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz-I’m going to come out and say it right now, this was my favorite book I read all year. It was funny, creative, dark, and very real. Mr Diaz, I greatly look forward to seeing what you’ll produce next.
2) Snow by Orhan Pamuk-Very dense but worth the effort (as his books usually seem to be).
3) The Handmaid’s Tale and The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood-Both took a while to grow on me but won me over in the end. I didn’t fall in love with Atwood the way many others have but I’d say I have a pretty deep appreciation for her work.
4) When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson-In this book, everything that could possibly go wrong does go wrong. I’m typically not a fan of books that take similar paths but Atkinson is a great writer and makes it work. This is not the best public transport book as tears may be shed.
1) Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner-A lot of fun, which is not something I ever thought I’d write about a book with ‘econ’ in the title.
2) Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson-A nice and accessible book about the English language. Would love it if Bryson would come out with an updated version.
3) In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan-Quick and to the point when it comes to eating right. Pollan makes a lot of sense but I have to say, I’m kind of afraid of food now, or at least what some of us call food.
That’s all folks! I guess that wasn’t really all that quick of a start! It might be a while until the next post as I’m only about a fifth of the way through my current book. Books cannot count towards my 50 book goal until January 1, 2010 which means I’m not in any huge rush to finish anything!