Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Books of the Year: 2009

This year I broke the 100 book barrier. I dunno if I'll ever do that again, but suffice it to say, I read a lot this year. More fiction than I've ever read before, more non-fiction than before and certainly way more short stories. Plus a whole lot of magazine articles too.

Below is a list of some of the stuff that I've enjoyed reading this year. Also, see this for my thoughts from the first half of the year.


Yasunari Kawabata - The Master of Go
I know nothing about the game of Go. It's super complicated and I don't think I've seen anyone play it in the states. But this is a fantastic sport book which focuses not just on the plays, but also the drama and machinations surrounding a grandmaster's final match against an aggressive-playing hypochondriac.

Jay McInerney - Story of My Life
One of the cliches of lazy book reviewing is to compare a young character to a Holden Caulfield. It would be lazy for me to call the young female narrator of this novel a coked-out '80s version of Catcher in the Rye, so I won't. But if I did, you'd have a good sense of this book.

Chuck Klosterman - Eating the Dinosaur
Klosterman, along with Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell have become masters of generating zany ideas, and even if the facts don't always back them up they're all highly amusing writers whose work ranges from the serious (Gladwell) to the sports related (Simmons) to the pop culture-y (Klosterman). Klosterman's new book is the of thing that's hard to resist if you've consumed as much must and television as most folks from our generation have.

Julian Barnes - Talking It Over / Nothing to Be Frightened Of
One is a lighthearted novel about a love triangle, the other is lighthearted (sort-of) look at death and religion. Barnes displays his ample cleverness in both.

Alice Munro - The Love of a Good Woman
Andre Dubus - Dancing After Hours
I know a lot of folks don't read short stories. These two are both fantastic writers that would convert anyone to the format.

Paul Auster - The New York Trilogy
These are three unrelated mysteries that all take place more in the minds of their narrators than the outside world, although they are very much New York books. All three are short, weird and poignant.

George Pelecanos - Drama City
Pelecanos was an executive producer and writer for The Wire, and if you are still unsure of where to go after finishing the Wire (hint hint, Jason) Pelecanos's work has the same gritty feel and excellent development of characters that you get from The Wire.

J. M. Coetzee - Disgrace
Now a major motion picture! This story is as soul crushing and bleak as a Cormac McCarthy novel, but Coetzee uses much more economy of language.

Dash Shaw - Bottomless Belly Button
Jeff Lemire - Essex County
Two graphic novels that are both about as thick as phone books, but both read quickly. The former deals with a grown family coming together after the parents decide to get a divorce. The latter is composed of three semi-connected stories taking place outside of Toronto and tackle timeless topics like childhood innocence, aging, and hockey (which is pretty timeless if you're Canadian).

3 comments:

Jstone said...

let go of the past max, books are dead.

B.Graham said...

Chuck Klosterman was interviewed on NPR! That book is on my (neverending) List.

Anne said...

sigh ... why aren't there more people like you ?