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I'm a Minnesota Girl, living in the south. I tell my friends I try not to talk and think like a Yankee, but sometimes I slip up!

Monday, January 4, 2010

My Best Books of 2009

1. Let the Great World Spin – Colum McCann

I like to be alone in my choices, but this one intersects with Amazon's choice for Book of the Year. One of those books where you hold your breath and hope it continues forever. If you didn't know better, you'd swear in wasn't fiction. My review:

2. The Girl Who Played With Fire – Stieg Larsson

A dark thriller, the second in the Millennium Trilogy. You either love these books or hate them (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was my favorite book of 2008). Not for those who prefer NOT to read about sex, misogny, violence.

3. The Siege – Stephen White

I've read his series for years, but this book transcends all his prior work. My review:

4. The Spare Room – Helen Garner

Not for everyone, it is ifinitely saddening. Raw and emotional, a tale of when friendship begins, and when it ends.

5. Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel

I haven't reviewed it yet, but the triumphant novel about the relationship between Henry VIII and his advisor, Thomas Cromwell, never failed to entertain.

6. Honolulu – A Brennert

I am swept away by Alan Brennert's looks at the history of Hawaii from the standpoint of his fictional heroines. Every bit as good, maybe better, than his first, Molok'ai.

7. Columbine – Dave Cullen

I waited all year to obtain this and read it, and read it in the closing days of 2009. Would that I had not waited. A remarkable look at the "why's?" behind the events of that April day in 1999.

8. Day After Night – Anita Diamant

Few authors get in women's heads the way Diamant (author: The Red Tent) does. In this, her latest, she examines women refugees in British held Palestine in the wake of WWII.

9. The Anthologist – Baker

Baker's touching story about a writer of poetry who attempts to put his love for verse under a microscope.

10. Love and Summer – William Trevor

A fictional affair in mid-life stage. A quiet passion in a small town. A heartbreak, folded between the wondrous pages of Trevor's novel.

Honorable mention:

Alphabet Juice: The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, ... With Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory.... by Roy Blount
Roy Blount is perhaps the most charming "humorist" in America today. I've enjoyed his stints on NPR, but with this book he crosses the line between humor and genius. If you love words, if you revel in words, run, don't walk to buy this book and enjoy little slices of it every day.

So much fun!


Kelly said...

An interesting collection. We only have the Diamant in common, but the Larsson is in my TBR stack for the near future.

You have me curious about your first selection. I need to read more about it....

quid said...


The beauty of McCann's book, for me... was that I lived through the event; and had forgotten it in my feeble brain. What a revelation to discover it again!


gm said...

Cullen , who first reported on the story for the online magazine Salon, acknowledges in the book's source notes that thoughts he attributes to Klebold and Harris are conjecture gleaned from the record the pair left behind.

Jeff Kass takes a more straightforward approach in "Columbine: A True Crime Story," working backward from the events of the fateful day.
The Denver Post

Mr. Cullen insists that the killers enjoyed "far more friends than the average adolescent," with Harris in particular being a regular Casanova who "on the ultimate high school scorecard . . . outscored much of the football team." The author's footnotes do not reveal how he knows this; when I asked him about it while preparing this review, Mr. Cullen said he did not necessarily mean to imply that Harris was sexually active. But what else would such words mean?

"Eric and Dylan never had any girlfriends," the more sober Mr. Kass writes, and were "probably virgins upon death."
Wall Street Journal