20 January 2010

Book of the year 2009

Welcome to my annual review of the books I read in 2009. This past year you will have noticed that my blogging decreased. I'm not super satisfied with that, but at the same time, the book reviews were getting over the top! Death by book reviews; it stymied my creative juices I guess. There was the awesome travel blog on destination bracketology; in that respect, 2009 was a great year for quality, but a down year for quantity. I'm not going to write any cheques that I can't cash (or whatever the saying is!) but 2010 should have a few good blogs, especially with the Olympics fast approaching - in fact, I have some pretty good ideas for great blogs on this subject, so hopefully I can deliver!

As for the year that was in literature, 2009 was a pretty solid year. I read some great books....and here is the short list of contenders for book of the year:
  • The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z, Max Brooks - the year started out great with the walking dead.
  • In the skin of a Lion, Michael Ondaatje - wow, I can't believe it took me so long to read this powerhouse of Canadiana literature.
  • The forever war, Joe Haldeman - i wouldn't be a top list without a sci-fi entry!
  • The world without us, Alan Weisman - the ideas were tremendous, the writing was a bit weak,....still a pretty incredible thought experiement
  • The best laid plans, Terry Fallis - I couldn't stop laughing and my grammar improved immensely!
  • The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga - The 2008 booker winner did not disappoint. Adiga is a huge talent in the making.
  • The road, Cormac McCarthy - Stunning, gripping fable on man's plight for direction in a post apocalyptic world.
  • You shall know our velocity!, Dave Eggers - quite possibly the most original author in mainstream fiction right now.
  • Foundation series, Isaac Asimov - um, I'm allowed 2 entries for sci-fi, right? This is one of the all-time classics by Asimov.
  • The in-betweeen world of Vikram Lall - well, I preferred the Assassin's song (which I read in 2009 as well), but this one had more meaning, as I had traveled to Kenya this year.
  • Three day road, Joseph Boyden - although his 2nd book "Through black spruce" was the more critically acclaimed novel, this first novel by Boyden set up this Cree author for great brilliance.
  • A farewell to arms, Ernest Hemingway - It is easy to ignore Hemingway as simply one of these greats, but this novel reminded me of why we consider him so great.
  • Bigfoot, I not dead, Graham Roumieu - um, could I actually pick a animated book of 35 pages as my favourite book of 2009? You may end up thinking less of me!
  • The heart is a lonely hunter, McCullers - minus points because Oprah liked it, but plus points because I liked it!
There you have it, 15 books that made my list of memorable books of 2009. They are listed in the chronological order in which I read them. It would probably have been easier to pick my least favourite book of the year, which is easily Seeing, by Jose Saramago. A HUGE let down following the brilliance of Blindness, this book suffers from unattainable expectations on my part. But I liked Saramago so much I couldn't help but be disappointed. The concept was there, but the execution was certainly not.

So which one was my favourite of 2009? Well, just to draw this one out even more, why not give a countdown to the top 5! In no particular order, here we go:

  1. Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden
  2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  3. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
  4. You shall know our velocity! by Dave Eggers
  5. In the skin of a Lion - Michael Ondaatje
Ok, so these are all really great novels. I can't believe I took out all those funny (Bigfoot) and serious (World without us), but there you have it, the top 5 are all pure fiction novels. My favourite of this list would be Three Day Road. The best written book - in my opinion - would be In the Skin of a Lion. But when you put them both together, my book of 2009 would be.....The Road by Cormac McCarthy. But I admit I may be partially influenced by Aragorn's performance in the movie.

Good reading.