Th Reading Lair


Your Top Novels of 2009?

Published January 5, 2010

In case you missed it–The Guardian posted their top 50 books of the past decade list. I think you’ll find it an interesting read when you’ve got time, although I confess to feeling mortified at how many books are on it of which I’ve never even heard (and the many more I’ve not yet read). Ergh . . . so many books, so little–well, you know how it goes.

However, the list idea prompted me to rummage around in my tousled mind and come up with two fiction favorites from the year we’ve all so recently left behind. Keeping in mind, of course, that playing favorites with books is a bit like picking out one’s best child (it all depends on what mood you’re in and which one is currently NOT running with scissors or dipping Barbie into the peanut butter jar). Especially for a girl who’s got five mountainous tome heaps lined up taller than her nightstand beside the bed.

After much in the way of tears and guilt and indecisiveness, here are the two I came up with:

An oldie:  Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment

And a goodie:  a little YA (hey, don’t laugh) called The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

One of these days I’ll review them both and we’ll discuss. But for now, dear reading friendlies, it’s your turn. WHAT are your top two novel picks for 2009?


What’s the mood music of the moment? Nightwish:  Phantom of the Opera




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21 Responses to “Your Top Novels of 2009?”

What Others Have To Say

  1. 01.5.2010 / 11:35 am


    First, I just have to say that book-guilt is a lot like homeschooling guilt… how much I should be teaching my kids, and how much I actually teach my kids: no matter what, there’s never enough time, but the fact that I’m trying has to count. I currently have three bookshelves of works I’ve been saving up to read while getting my degree. However, with the birth of our third child coinciding with my graduation… it’ll be another 5 years before I get to them. Anyways, top two books of 2009:

    Oldie: “Revelations of Divine Love” by Julian of Norwich (Uh-MAZ-ing!!!)

    Goodie: The Eragon Saga by Christopher Peolini (total boy fiction and fun escapist fantasy)

    Finally, I ADORE this version of “Phantom”… rock-opera forever!!

  2. 01.5.2010 / 2:10 pm

    Garth Jantzen

    Well, I’ll chime in on my favorite fiction of the year—albeit one of the only fiction I read— The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. This is related to the rest of the series, but published posthumously by his son after Tolkien’s Death. I love history, and this is kind of a mix of history and narrative that describes the universe of Middle Earth in which The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings takes place. Incredible writing, and I actually like it better than the LOTR trilogy.

  3. 01.5.2010 / 2:33 pm


    Ah! That’s on my “Plan-to-Read” list for this year, Garth! Better than LOTR, huh? Now I’m very curious…

  4. 01.5.2010 / 2:40 pm


    Andrew W. commented to this post on Facebook. I’ll put it here as well.

    “I take it you want to know about the novels people read in 2009 not necessarily the ones that came out in 2009. My picks would be “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy and the complete “100 Bullets” series by Brian Azzarello and Edwardo Risso.”

  5. 01.5.2010 / 2:42 pm


    Dani, you make me smile. :-) You’re amazing.

    And tell us the premise of Revelations of Divine Love. Why’d you like it?

  6. 01.5.2010 / 5:41 pm

    Susan Gaddis

    Oldie: “Invasion” by Robin Cook
    Goodie: “Hood” by Stephen Lawhead. I think my daughter still has my copy of this. I hope I get it back soon.

  7. 01.5.2010 / 7:15 pm


    Okay so this year I hve been readings childrens classics, reccomended memoirs, and more classic literature. I’m trying to catch up with all my reader friends.
    So my first pick is Peter Pan by J.M. Barry and my second pick would have to be (this is painful btw) The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam.
    I especially appreciated the Simaly Mam book because not only was it a heartbreaking and encouraging read but by buying the book you are helping to support the Somaly Mam foundation against human traffiking.

    Also Mary, I don’t know about you but I always find myself enjoying a book more in “theory”. I will read it and think it was “ok” and then I will be chewing on it for a few weeks and realize that I love the book. Is that weird?

  8. 01.5.2010 / 8:18 pm


    I LOVE your choices, Bethany.

    I haven’t read Peter Pan in years, but Peter recently read it to our girls. They were like, “Peter Pan was kind of messed up, Mom!” to the hunting Indians aspect of it. :-)

    I very much agree on the “theory” comment. It took me 2 months to read Crime and Punishment just because I had to take a break and “chew” every few days. And then (like you said) you finish and walk away and the revelations begin to settle in, birthing challenges and change into our spirits. Good call on that…

    Haven’t read the memoir, but I think I’d like it. Probably never recover from it (which is the best kind). I believe the injustice called human trafficking (esp. child trafficking) is the foremost issue of our time.

  9. 01.5.2010 / 9:46 pm

    Carrie Calmere

    The two fiction books I read this year were both riveting and paradigm-shifting in different ways. One is The Shack by Wm. Paul Young: it goes from completely devastating to deeply beautiful and victorious and has been food for thought ever since. The other is “older” but still a goodie. Piercing the Darkness by Frank E. Peretti is not only an action-packed mystery novel that I couldn’t put down, but it also implanted in me a visual picture of the unseen battle around us and a deeper understanding of the power of prayer.

  10. 01.6.2010 / 8:52 am


    Ooooh, very nice additions to our Top Novels list, Carrie! I like! And I find it interesting that both those books were a tad out of the traditional ordinary for their “arenas,” yet struck readers with such resonance that publishers had to sit up and take notice. Shows what people are hungering for…

  11. 01.6.2010 / 10:36 am


    Oh so I checked out the guardians too 50 list and I had no idea that Breakfast at Tiffanys was a book!!! I have to read it because that is my ultimate favorite movie. How sad I didn’t know this..

  12. 01.6.2010 / 1:23 pm


    Wow this website is great. Who is this hot chick and how do I learn more about her and books?

  13. 01.6.2010 / 1:28 pm



  14. 01.6.2010 / 4:32 pm


    oookkk… i had to chew on this for awhile. Also, I had to find someplace with free wifi.

    I’m torn because I read many really amazing books this year, but most of them were classics. So I narrowed it down for you

    Classics: The Picture of Dorian Gray and Peter Pan.

    Dorian Gray because I love a good cynic. Peter Pan because I’m obsessed with fairy tales.

    New: The Hunger Games, The Ender Quartet, and (tentatively) The Time Travelers Wife

  15. 01.6.2010 / 5:01 pm


    Kati I am so shocked you put the Time Travelers Wife!!! Do explain!

  16. 01.6.2010 / 10:25 pm


    I’m shocked as well, Bethany! Yes, do explain yourself, Kati :-).

  17. 01.8.2010 / 1:38 pm

    Emily Pruitt

    I have to agree with Garth, The Silmarillion is a fantastic read, although I don’t personally favor it above The LOTR Trilogy. It simply lacks the extensive character development that goes on throughout the three books. It is however, a beautifully written collection of stories and gives greater depth to the more popular saga.

    This year I didn’t read as much as I would have liked.
    I agree with Bethany’s theory concerning the need to “chew” over a novel before deciding you like it. I had to read East of Eden by Steinbeck (who I usually despise, it’s wretched of me I know) for my English class at Cuesta and I hated it at first. But the more I digest it, and consider all the analogies and symbolism, I must admit it’s growing on me. It won’t ever be a favorite though.
    I think my favorite read of 2009 was The Host, Stephanie Meyers attempt at more grown up audience. The idea of aliens totally turned me off at first, but my cousin insisted I keep reading and after the first few chapters, I couldn’t put it down.

  18. 01.8.2010 / 9:30 pm


    I thoroughly enjoyed the Host as well, Emily. As a fan of sci-fi, I found it a fun, easy read (which is what I appreciate about Stephenie Meyer–er, aside from the creation of Edward of course). And as to Steinbeck . . . I’m beginning to think he’s one to fit in that category of “everyone wants to have read it, but nobody wants to be reading it.” He’s famous, yes, and yet I’ve ever only met 3 people who seem to adore him. Hmm . . .

  19. 01.9.2010 / 2:19 pm


    Replying late:
    I don’t think “Revelations of Divine Love” actually falls into the novel category, but it was definitely fascinating. Besides being the first book written in the English language, it was written by a woman, AND her theology was the beginning of Protestantism. She has a near-death experience, and, as she’s on her death bed, she has an intense vision of Jesus on the cross. Each chapter is a meditation on a different part of her vision, and her writing style is amazingly vivid and touching for a woman who was cloistered (she lived inside the walls of a church her whole life). I loved it, and was pretty happy that I “had” to read it this past year!

  20. 09.9.2010 / 2:22 am


    I just wanted to say that I found your site via Goolge and I am glad I did. Keep up the good work and I will make sure to bookmark you for when I have more free time away from the books. Thanks again!

  21. 10.3.2010 / 4:19 am


    I just wanted to say that I found your site via Bing and I am glad I did. Keep up the good work and I will make sure to bookmark you for when I have more free time away from the books. Thanks again!


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