I read 135 books in 2009, much less than the previous two years (183 and 173 respectively). I’m not sure why the numbers have dropped so much – I definitely read less in the second half of 2009 than I have in previous years, and I was less careful in keeping track of what I was reading, so perhaps that accounts for a few books.
Best Faux-Nostalgic Books
For some reason, I never read the Anne of Green Gables series when I was younger. I made up for that during my winter holiday this year, when I found Anne of Green Gables at a friend’s place in Darwin, and then followed that up with the rest of the series gathered from second-hand bookstores in Tasmania. I loved Anne & Gilbert, but became less interested in the series as they became adults and the stories focused more on their children.
Best Newly Discovered Classic
I have loved Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies since I read it as a teenager, and I listened to Decline & Fall for the first time this year (which is an earlier novel, and vaguely related). Decline & Fall is hilarious, in the same dark way as Vile Bodies. I feel that I should read Brideshead Revisited now, but I think it’s a very different style to these two books.
Most Trashy Books of Which I Read Far Too Many
A tie between the equally addictive Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris (source material for the True Blood tv series), and JD Robb’s In Death futuristic-detective series.
I don’t read that much non-fiction, so there’s not a lot to choose from – a tie between Ingrid Cummings’ The Vigorous Mind, about the benefits of life-long generalised learning, and Mary Roach’s hysterical Spook, over which I shook with silent laughter on public transport.
Best Book About Antarctica
Possibly the only book about Antarctica I read in 2009, but definitely the best – Geraldine McCaughrean’s The White Darkness, a truly terrifying and creepy YA novel, which inspired me to read more about Lawrence Oates, of the “I am just going outside…” quote.
While it’s not a really believable dystopia (which all the really terrifying ones are), Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games was as fantastic and compelling as everyone was saying, and I enjoyed the sequel, Catching Fire, as well. However, hands-down-best dystopia of the year was Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey – a fantastic fable-like story about boxing and what it means to be human.
Best How Have I Not Read This Author Before?
I can’t believe I had never picked up a John Green novel before – king of quirky teenage characters. (I know quirky is really overused as a descriptive word, and I think I’ve used it twice already here, but I mean it as a compliment. I like quirky.) I read Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines, and my favourite, Looking for Alaska, which I loved and wept over.
And my final two Honourable Mentions to books that I loved but can’t think of a particular category for – Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, for all of us who read and loved the Narnia books as children, and wished that one day we could step through, and AS Byatt’s Possession, for everyone who loves.