2009 Wrap Up/2010 Book Resolution

So, a brief 2009 wrap up before I plow ahead into the books of 2010.  Here with much, much delay, as usual, ten of the best books I read this year.

Best Books (in no particular order):

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Burrows:  A book that manages to be sweet without cloying and to tell a new story about World War II (is such a thing possible), capturing tragedy without being depressing, and a book that I think fondly of more than a year later. Books don’t have to be heavy to be wonderful.  

Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose:  I wish I’d bought this, instead of just having borrowed it from the library, because I’d like to reread it, and often.  The way Prose talks about reading and writing made is illuminating, and made me realize I should be reading her fiction. 

Ironweed, William Kennedy: The whole point of the Modern Library Project (beyond obsessive compulsive list-itis) is to find great books that I never would have otherwise read.  This story of a bum who finds redemption was heartbreaking and well written and a real find.

Pictures at the Revolution, Mark Susskind:  A non fiction account of five movies nominated for best picture in 1968, it ends up becoming a story of changing Hollywood and of a changing society.

Family Romance, John Lancaster:  I thought I was tired of memoirs until I read this one.  Sure, the story is fascinating (he finds out after her death that his mom is a different person than he thought - an an ex nun!), but it’s the writing that made this soar.  

The Good Thief, Hannah Tinti: A rip-roaring good tale in a Dickensian vein - perhaps the best story I read this year. 

Light in August, William Faulkner:  I’m always a little surprised at how much I love Faulkner, since my first experience with The Sound and the Fury  was not so great, but I do, and I loved this.

1776, David McCullough:  Maybe it’s middlebrow history, but I was absolutely engrossed by McCullough’s tale of the first year of the American Revolution.  I got so into it that I was getting nervous about the outcome, and had to keep reminding myself that we won.  

Go Tell It On the Mountain, James Baldwin:  Another book that made me glad that I was reading the ML top 100, what I loved about Go Tell It On the Mountain is how it transcends being about race in America (an important topic in its own right) and is just a fascinating novel about people in America.  

Dreams From My Father, Barak Obama: It’s not that I’m the world’s biggest Obama fan (though, I am a pretty big Obama fan - yay healthcare bill!), but oh my lord, what blew me away about this book is 1) how marvelously well it is written - the man could be a writer if he wasn’t busy being president, and 2) how honest it is, especially about race.  If the people who hated him had read his book, they would would not have been able to deal with the nuanced treatment of some tough issues (but then, they already hated him for much less nuanced reasons!) 


Next, my 2010 book resolution.  This year, we keep it simple (to write, if not to complete).  Finish the Modern Library Project.  Can it be done? I am wary, as it’s already April, and I 1) have not made much progress and 2) have another person gestating in me, but let’s be optimistic.


And now, the 2009 Book List:

1. Ulysses, James Joyce

2. The Wagner Clan, Jonathan Carr

3. The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets, Eva Carr

4. Third Girl, Agatha Christie

5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows

6. Flight, Sherman Alexie

7. Lock and Key, Sarah Dessen

8. Just After Sunset, Stephen King

9.  Gentlemen of the Road, Michael Chabon

10.  The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, Maggie O’Farrell

11. Me, the Missing, and the Dead, Jenny Valentine

12. Red Leather Diary, Lily Koppel

13. Garlic and Sapphires, Ruth Reichel

14. Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose

15. The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart

16. The Reserve, Russell Banks

17. The Monster of Templeton, Lauren Goff

18. Death Notes, Ruth Rendell

19. Trombone, Craig Nova

20. The Veiled One, Ruth Rendell

21. The Moor’s Last Sigh, Salman Rushdie

22. The Absolute Sandman Vol. IV, Neil Gaiman

23. The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Mary E. Pearson

24. An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser

25. Sins of the Fathers, Ruth Rendell

26. The Adventures of Augie Marsh, Saul Bellow

27. Ms. Hempel Chronicles, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum

28. From Doon With Death, Ruth Rendell

29. Piranha to Scurfy, Ruth Rendell

30. Everything that Rises, a Book of Convergences, Lawrence Weschler

31. Austerlitz, WG Sebald

32. Death in the Garden, Elizabeth Ironsides

33. Shake Hands Forever, Ruth Rendell

34. Paper Towns, John Green

 35. How To Be Good, Nick Hornby

36. An Unkindness of Ravens, Ruth Rendell

 37. Julie and Julia, Julie Powell

38. The Keys to the Street, Ruth Rendell

39. A Northern Light, Jennifer Donnelly

 40. A Fatal Inversion, Ruth Rendell

 41. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Sparks

 42. The Divorce Express, Paula Danzinger

 43. The Seance, John Harwood

  44. Scoop, Evelyn Waugh

45.  A Dark-Adapted Eye, Ruth Rendell

  46. The Prime Minister, Anthony Trollope

 47. The Crocodile Bird, Ruth Rendell

 48.  Fragile Things, Neil Gaiman

 49.   No More Dying Then, Ruth Rendell

 50. Helena, Evelyn Waugh

 51. Murder Being Once Done, Ruth Rendell

  52. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, Jeanne Birdsall

 53. To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

54.  The House of Stairs, Ruth Rendell

  55. Boy Meets Boy, David Leviathan

  56. Ironweed, William Kennedy

 57. Harm Done, Ruth Rendell

 58. Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama

 59. Homicide, David Simon

  60. The Tales of Beedle the Bard, JK Rowling

 61. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell

 62. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

 63. The Great Man, Kate Christenson

 64. The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy, Ruth Rendell

 65. End in Tears, Ruth Rendell

 66. Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt, Amanda McKenzie Stewart

 67. Dramarama, E. Lockhart

68. The Blood Doctor, Ruth Rendell

69. Sons and Lovers, DH Lawrence

70 Collected Stories, Ruth Rendell

71. Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones

72. A Handful of Dust, Evelyn Waugh

73. The Water’s Lovely, Ruth Rendell

74.Street Gang, Michael David

75. Road Rage, Ruth Rendell

76. Decline and Fall, Evelyn Waugh

77. The Best Man To Die, Ruth Rendell

78. The Mousetrap & Other Plays, Agatha Christie

79. A Heart Shaped Box, Joe Hill

80. The Wings of the Dove, Henry James

81. The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey, Trenton Lee Stewart

82. No Night Is Too Long, Ruth Rendell

83. South Wind, Norman Douglas

84. Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler

85. An Abundance of Katherines, John Greene

86. Pictures at a Revolution, Mark Susskind

87. In the Woods, Tana French

88. On Royalty,  Jeremy Paxman

89. Vile Bodies, Evelyn Waugh

90. Ragtime, EL Doctorow

91. The Great War and Modern Memory, Paul Fussel

92. In Her Shoes, Jennifer Weiner

93. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, Agatha Christie

94. Death at Priory, James Ruddick

95.Foundation, Isaac Asimov

96. Innocent Blood, P.D. James

97. Bridehead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

98. Main Street, Sinclair Lewis

99. A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, Amy Bloom

 100. Postern of Fate, Agatha Christie

 101. The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living, Martin Clark

 102. The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan

103. The Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan

104. The Titan’s Curse, Rick Riordan

 105. Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, Ruth Rendell

106. Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry

107. A Judgment In Stone, Ruth Rendell 

108.  Young Lonigan, James T. Farrell

 109. The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan, James T. Farrell

 110. Judgment Day, James T. Farrell

111. Family Romance, John Lancaster

112. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

113. A Demon in My View, Ruth Rendell

114. Wolf to the Slaughter, Ruth Rendell

 115. The Old Wives’ Tale, Arnold Bennett

 116. The Good Thief, Hannah Tinti

 117. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Steig Larson

 118. An Unsuitable Job For A Woman, PD James

 119. Sophie’s Choice, William Styron

 120. Simisola, Ruth Rendell

 121. Light in August, William Faulkner

 122. To the Power of Three, Laura Lippman

 123. The Provincial Lady in America, EM Delafield

 124. 1776, David McCullough

 125. Witch Hunt, Ian Rankin

 126. Moon Tiger, Penelope Lively

 127. Murder Room, PD James

 128. A Daughter’s A Daughter, Agatha Christie writing as Mary Westmacott

129. Unfinished Portrait, Agatha Christie writing as Mary Westmacott

130. The Burden, Agatha Christie writing as Mary Westmacott

131. Offshore, Penelope Fitzgerald

 132. The Old Devils, Kingsley Amis

133. Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter, Ruth Rendell

 134. Doo-Dah!, Ken Emerson

135. Amsterdam, Ian McEwan

 136. Shelf Discovery, Lizzie Skurnick

137. The Truth About Forever, Sarah Dessen

 138. Maisie Dobbs, Jacqueline Winspear

 139. The American Opera Singer, Peter G. Davis

 140. Vernon God Little, DBC Pierre

 141. Birds of a Feather, Jacqueline Winspear

 142. Classic American Popular Song, David Jenness and Don Velsey

143.  The Unfinished Clue, Georgette Heyer

 144. Speaker of Mandarin, Ruth Rendell

 145. Flowers in the Dustbin, James Miller

  146. King Solomon’s Carpet, Ruth Rendell

 147. 5 Minute Mysteries, Michael Avallone

 148. Collected Short Stories, Graham Greene

 149. The Battle of the Labyrinth, Rick Riordan

 150. For Whom The Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway

151. The Life of Graham Greene Vol. 1, Norman Sherry

152. The Life of Graham Greene Vol. II, Norman Sherry

153. The Friday Night Knitting Club, Kate Jacobs

154. Miss Pym Disposes, Josephine Tey

 155. Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day, Winifred Watson

 156. Go Tell it on the Mountain, James Baldwin

 157. Girls Like Us, Sheila Weller 

158. Slam, Nick Hornby

 159. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017