9 for 2009

This is the time of year for best-of lists -- The New York Times 10 Best Books of 2009, The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2009, The New Yorker’s Reviewers’ Favorites of 2009, The Washington Post’s Best Books of 2009, or The Boston Globe’s Best Books of the Decade.

As for me, 9 for 2009 stand out. All were published in the U.S. during 2009 or late 2008, all could be considered “bookish,” and all were enjoyable. Here they are, in no particular order:

The Library At Night by Alberto Manguel (Yale University Press). This is the kind of non-fiction that keeps me reading past midnight. Manguel is wonderful with words, and I am looking forward to reading and reviewing his new collection of essays for the February issue of Fine Books.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (Quirk Books). I was hesitant about this one, but when I grabbed a copy at the Harvard Book Store while on vacation this summer, I couldn’t put it down. Then I wrote about it in Fine BooksSeptember issue

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters (Quirk Books). Not as good as the above (there’s less Jane Austen), but still a fun read.

The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles (Knopf). A truly amazing feat of biography. It won the National Book Award this year.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (Dial Press). A lovely, breezy epistolary novel about a book club formed during World War II.

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (Picador). A little gem of a novel about what happens when the Queen of England becomes a voracious reader.

The Whole Five Feet: What the Great Books Taught Me About Life, Death, and Pretty Much Everything Else by Christopher Beha (Grove Press). A young man spends a year reading the entire Harvard Classics. So, so jealous...

The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future by Robert Darnton (Public Affairs). I had the great pleasure of interviewing Darnton about his book, which is a must-read for book historians and Google skeptics.

The Women by T.C. Boyle (Viking). A fascinating, fabulous novel about Frank Lloyd Wright’s women and architecture (in that order).

Happy Reading in 2010!
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