Friday, January 15, 2010

Reading Review - 2009

At long last, I finally get to post my best of/worst of reading for 2009. The total is 78 books, 35 fiction and 41 non-fiction, and one a mix of both.

Here is the list, in the approximate order in which they were read (note - if you do not want to read through this whole list, skip to the later parts in the post. I do this part for my own record-keeping more than anything else):

War and Peace (F) by Leo Tolstoy
I Was Told There's Be Cake (NF - essays) by Sloane Crossley
Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy (NF) by Donald Kraybill, Steven Nolt, and Donald Weaver-Zercher
The World Without Us (NF) by Alan Weisman
Letter from Point Clear (F) by Dennis McFarland
A Mercy (F) by Toni Morrison
Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (NF) by Margaret Atwood
I See You Everywhere (F) by Julia Glass
Reputation: Portraits in Power (NF - essays) by Marjorie Williams
Lark and Termite (F) by Jayne Anne Phillips
The Wordy Shipmates (NF) by Sarah Vowell
At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1963-65 (NF, history) by Taylor Branch
I Survived Cancer But Never Won the Tour de France (NF) by Jim Chastain
The Double Bind (F) by Chris Bohjalian
The Magician's Nephew (F) by C.S. Lewis
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (F) by C.S. Lewis
The Horse and His Boy (F) by C.S. Lewis
Prince Caspian (F) by C.S. Lewis
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (F) by C.S. Lewis
The Silver Chair (F) by C. S. Lewis
The Last Battle (F) by C. S. Lewis
Things I've Been Silent About (NF - autobiography) by Azar Nafisi
Same Kind of Different as Me (NF) by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
Christ on Trial (NF) By Rowan Williams
Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood (NF) by Taras Grescoe
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (F) by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The Magician's Book: a Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia (NF) by Laura Miller
Serena (F) by Ron Rash
The Hour I First Believed (F) by Wally Lamb
Redeemed: Stumbling Toward God, Sanctity, and the Peace that Passes All Understanding (NF - memoir) by Heather King
Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground (NF) by Robert Kaplan
Classics for Pleasure (NF) by Michael Dirda
The Power of One (F) by Bryce Courtenay
Where God Happens: Discovering Christ in One Another (NF) by Rowan Williams
What Happened at Vatican II (NF) by John O'Malley
Handle with Care (F) by Jodi Picoult
An Altar in the World: a Geography of Faith (NF - spirituality) by Barbara Brown Taylor
The Eyre Affair (F) by Jasper FForde
Loving Frank (F) by Nancy Horan
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008 (NF) edited by Jerome Groopman
Roots (F) by Alex Haley
Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled his Greatness (NF) by Joshua Wolf Shenk
Liberty (F) by Garrison Keillor
The Year of Fog (F) by Michelle Richmond
Acedia and Me: a Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life (NF) by Kathleen Norris
The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey (NF) by Candice Millard
The Pillars of the Earth (F) by Ken Follett
Sundays in America: a Year-Long Road Trip in Search of Christian Faith (NF) by Suzanne Strempek Shea
This Child Will Be Great (NF - memoir) by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
The Grail Bird: the Rediscovery of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker (NF - science) by Tim Gallagher
Little Heathens (NF - memoir) by Mildred Armstrong Kalish
Home Safe (F) by Elizabeth Berg
The Help (F) by Kathryn Stockett
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (NF - science/environment) by William McDonough and Michael Braungart
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Mortgaged Heart: a Collection of Writings by Carson McCullers (F and NF) by Carson McCullers
Holy Fools: Following Jesus with Reckless Abandon (NF) by Matthew Woodley
Those Who Save Us (F) by Jenna Blum
Olive Kitteridge (F) by Elizabeth Strout
A Walk in the Woods (NF) by Bill Bryson
Pilgrimage: Exploring a Great Spiritual Practice (NF) by Edward Sellner
The Source (F) by James A. Michener
The House at Sugar Beach (NF - memoir) by Helene Cooper
The Art of Pilgrimage: the Seeker's Guide to Making Travel Sacred (NF) by Phil Cousineau
Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life (NF) by Matthew, Dennis and Sheila Linn
One Drop: My Father's Hidden Life (NF) by Bliss Broyard
The Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation, and Hope are Reshaping the World (NF) by Dominique Moisi
Blood Brothers (NF) by Elias Chacour
That Old Cape Magic (F) by Richard Russo
Exile (F) by Richard North Patterson
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (F) by Jamie Ford
Seven Types of Ambiguity (F) by Elliott Perlman
The Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels (NF) by Janet Soskice
Consequential Strangers: The Power of People Who Don't Seem to Matter But Really Do (NF) by Karen Fingerman and Melinda Blau
The Inheritance of Loss (F) by Kiran Desai
The Meaning is in the Waiting (NF) by Paula Gooden
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope in Africa (NF) by William Kamkwamba
The Toss of a Lemon (F) by Padma Viswanathan

Here are some personal favorites of mine:

Top 5 Fiction:

War and Peace (seriously, it's a great book)
Lark and Termite
The Help
Olive Kitteridge
That Old Cape Magic

Honorable Mention:

The Pillars of the Earth
Those Who Save Us
The Toss of a Lemon
Loving Frank

Top 5 non-fiction:

An Altar in the World
At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1963-65
Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope in Africa

Honorable Mention:

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008
What Happened at Vatican II

Most Hopeful: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Most Inspiring: Blood Brothers, Same Kind of Different as Me
Funniest: A Walk in the Woods
Biggest Disappointment: Sundays in America
Most Frightening: The World Without Us
Surprise Hit: The Whole Narnia series
Most theologically or spiritually broadening: Where God Happens
Authors I want to read more of: Kathryn Stockett, Jayne Anne Phillips, Ron Rash
Book that has had the most influence on my daily life: An Altar in the World
Biggest Dud: The Year of Fog
Most Educational Fiction: The Source

Please respond by sending me your favorite (and/or least favorite) reads of 2009 - I am always interested in what my friends are reading. I've already read one terrific book in 2010 - Pat Conroy's South of Broad. I will post on it in a few days.

Happy 2010, reading friends!

Reverent Reader


At 1/15/10, 3:32 PM , Blogger Saying Grace said...

well, this is a pretty astonishing list. Can I have your brain for a year or two?

At 1/15/10, 3:57 PM , Anonymous Pam said...

I've been waiting for your post. I read more books this year than any year since I've been keeping track ('93) but it most of it was a little lite!

Here are my Top 5 Books in order of preference -

The Help - Kathryn Stockett
An Altar in the World - Barbara Brown Taylor
Old School - Tobias Wolff
South of Broad - Pat Conroy
Say You're One of Them - Uwem Akpan

Two Honorable Mentions - both memoirs

The Possibility of Everything - Hope Edelman
Journal for Jordan - Dana Canedy

At 1/15/10, 4:44 PM , Blogger Melinda said...

Leslie, I'm so happy that Consequential Strangers made it onto your reading list this year. You have read several other of my favorites, too!
Melinda Blau

At 1/15/10, 5:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Melinda - I first heard about "Consequential Strangers" while listening to one of you interviewed on NPR. It is a wonderful concept, and has had an effect on the way I appreciate people around me. The book is readable and the anecdotes are fun, even with all that data that you had to communicate. Thanks for your work on it, and thanks for writing!

At 1/16/10, 6:51 PM , Blogger Melinda said...

Thanks, "Anonymous," that's music to my ears. Please help me spread the word.

At 1/17/10, 1:54 PM , Blogger Reverent Reader said...

Hey Melinda - "Anonymous" = Leslie = Reverent Reader. Even after blogging for over two years, I am still technologically illiterate, and often end up putting anonymous responses on my blog. Anyway, I may be a doofus, but I really liked your book!

At 1/17/10, 5:12 PM , Blogger Melinda said...

Believe me I understand. Just when I think I've mastered sometjing tech, a new something comes along to challenge me!

At 1/19/10, 7:18 PM , Blogger Lisa said...

Hi there!
I so much enjoy reading your blog...I am on good reads which helps me see the books that I have read over the year. Here are my great books of the year:

1) Alias Grace (Atwood)
2) Half of a Yellow Sun (Adichie)
3) Blood of Flowers (Amirrezvani)

Non Fiction
1) 3 cups of tea (Mortenson)
2) Things I've been silent about (Nafisi)

I am currently reading Exile based on your recommendation and enjoying it. It makes me want to read more historical novels about Israel because I keep getting lost.

Thanks for all of your cataloging!

At 1/19/10, 7:47 PM , Blogger Lisa said...

One more...

The sum of our days (Isabel Allende)

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