A Year in Books – 2009 Edition

As every year, here is the best I could do to sum up the highlights and specials of last year’s reading achievement. And as always, let’s start with the best ten books:

10. Madeleine l’Engle: A Wrinkle in Time: I finally, finally got around to reading these. They were never really popular in Germany it seems, so the l’Engle books weren’t part of my childhood reading memories. I finished this in no time, because it’s so awesome. (And I’m guessing I’m preaching to the choir here, so this is mostly for those readers who haven’t read them. Do. Like, now.)

9. Neal Stephenson: Cryptonomicon: Has a Stephenson book ever made it to my top ten list? Not sure and too lazy to look it up. One reason why it hasn’t happened probably is that these books exhaust the hell out of me. However, when I read Cryptonomicon I finally realized how very unique Stephenson’s style is and how much I enjoy it, despite all the exhaustion and the relieved sigh you could hear me make when I’m done with one of his books. (This is another classic, so I won’t bother with any plot details here. Even if I tried, this is a Stephenson book, so come on… Lots of charaters, lots of places, lots of words. And a treasure.)

8. Stieg Larsson: The Girl Who…: I couldn’t decide which book of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy I liked most, so I’ll just treat them as one book. It kind of is, anyway. Those of you who know me a bit better know that I’m not a big crime or thriller reader, but man, do these books rock. The first one is your basic family mystery crime story complete with your mystery genius girl. Starting with the second book, Larsson starts a saga that dives way deep into the realms of political intrigues and journalistic thriller. All books were great and I still am a bit sad because the saga had to stop long before it was planned to.

7. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski: There’s a praise by Stephen King on the cover of this book and after I read it I think I know why. The story of a boy who doesn’t talk raised on a farm with his parents who raise and train a special breed of dogs. After his father mysteriously dies and Edgar’s world falls apart, he runs away accompanied by some of his dogs. It’s a perfect and unique setting and highly recommended.

6. Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen: Similar as The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, this one tells the story of Tecumseh Sparrow Spivet who lives in the smallest town in Wyoming and is a genius at documenting everything in his notebooks. When he gets an invitation to receive a price from the Smithsonian he sets out on a journey east. One of the best parts of the books is all the illustrations and annotations from T.S.’s notebooks. But the story is equally great.

5. Audrey Niffenegger: Her Fearful Symmetry: I knew nothing could top The Time Traveler’s Wife, so I didn’t even bother to expect anything that reality couldn’t live up to. And it’s not as great as TTTW. But how could it? Besides, this is a victorian-style ghost story about two twins living in their aunt’s flat in London with their slightly eccentric neighbors below and above and their aunt herself living in their flat as a lingering ghost.

4. China Miéville: The City and the City: I had a hard time getting into this book, but then it was absolutely worth it. Leaving London and its variations behind, Miéville invents the strangest place, two cities occupying the same geographical space, but politically separated. And then a crime happens and a detective stumbles into the world of his city and the other one and then one in-between. Part fantasy, part detective story, part film noir, this was everything I love about Miéville’s weird imagination.

3. Dave Eggers: A Staggering Work of Heartbreaking Genius: I wondered whether I should put two Eggers books on my top ten list, but then I figured, what the hell. The introduction alone makes this worth a spot in the top ten and the rest of this kind-of-autobiography easily makes it a top three. If you want to read a staggering work of heartbreaking genius from my favorite author of the year, this is it.

2. David Mitchell: Ghostwritten: Don’t make me try explaining a David Mitchell book to you. This doesn’t work. I’m still not sure if I understood everything, but I also don’t think that’s the point of any Mitchell book.

1. Dave Eggers: The Wild Things: Oh oh oh oh, my god! How terribly great is this book! After You Shall Know Our Velocity this book convinced me that Dave Eggers is just one amazing writer. I couldn’t stop reading and that had nothing to do with the fact that I was stuck on airplanes and in airports. It had everything to do with the book. It was also kind of helpful, because after reading this, I knew that I wouldn’t have to worry about deciding on my favorite book of the year.

That’s it for my personal top ten books of the last year. As for the other categories, they will be discussed in detail in the next post. And while we’re at it, what were your reading highlights of 2009?

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