Best Books of 2009

I reserve the right to add to this if a book between now and New Year’s Eve blows me away, but here’s the round up of the best books I’ve read this year (a couple still pending review!).


Best Literary Fiction
Gabriel Josipovici – After and Making Mistakes

Best General Fiction
Penelope Fitzgerald – The Beginning of Spring
Ali Smith – Boy Meets Girl
Honorable Mention: Deirdre Madden – Molly Fox’s Birthday

Best Classic
Georg Buchner – Lenz
Honorable Mention: Anthony Trollope – Miss Mackenzie

Best Modern Classic
Dawn Powell – Dance Night
Honorable Mention: Gertrude Stein – The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

Best Comfort Read
Monica Dickens – Mariana
Richmal Crompton – Family Roundabout

Best YA novel
Diana Wynne-Jones – Fire and Hemlock

Best Historical Fiction
Kate Pullinger – Mistress of Nothing

Best Novel in Translation
Paola Kaufmann – The Sister

Best Comic Novel
Alan Bennett – The Uncommon Reader

Crime Fiction
Best Psychological Thriller
Patrick McGrath – Trauma

Best Police Procedural
Andrew Taylor – Naked to the Hangman

Best Poetry Collection
Peter Abbs – Voyaging Out


General Non-fiction
Katherine Swift – The Morville Hours
Melissa Benn – Madonna and Child
Honorable Mention: Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers

Best Memoir
Jeanette Walls – The Glass Castle
Ruth Reichl – Not Becoming My Mother

Best Biography
Janet Malcolm – Two Lives
Andrew Brown – Brief Lives: Flaubert

Best Self-Help
Caroline Goyder – The Star Qualities

Best Travel Writing
Patrick Leigh Fermor – A Time to Keep Silence

17 thoughts on “Best Books of 2009

  1. I haven’t read many of those, but I completely agree that Girl Meets Boy, The Uncommon Reader and Fire & Hemlock are wonderful. In fact, Fire & Hemlock is one of those books I just might be slightly obsessed with 😛

  2. I scored 1 read out of 26 and one on the TBR list. I loved the Bennett. Janet Malcom always good and I’m keen to read Josipovici (and probably the Gladwell).

  3. It sounds like you’ve had a very rich reading year–such a breadth of genres and styles and time periods represented on your list of bests. There are several there that I’ve not read that I’ll be adding to my TBR list!

  4. You had a great year of reading! I love some of those titles, and will definitely put others on my list. I’m planning to read more Josipovici this coming year, and have always wanted to read Dawn Powell. So many great books out there waiting for me to read them 🙂

  5. Blimey, I’ve not read any of them. Not sure I could muster such a wide ranging list, either.

    Note to self: must get round to reading Gabriel Josipovici – all I see are rave-reviews. 😉

  6. I’m so glad you enjoyed Dawn Powell–she has been overlooked for far too long. And that makes three on your list that I’ve read. That feels pretty good! (Have promised another to read Mr. Gladwell; I now promise you I will read Josipovici) Cannot wait to see what 2010 will bring!

  7. Marvelous list. I hope you read at least one or two really good books between now and the end of the year that prompts some revision 🙂 I don’t dare make a list yet since I’ll be reading a Josipovici in the next few weeks!

  8. I love end of the year reading lists. I can’t believe I’ve only read two of these. I have The Glass Castle and The Morville Hours on my TBR list. I think I’ll print list out and keep it in my wallet for when I’m at the library or bookstore. I trust your judgment.

  9. How fun to see your list! It’s that time of year, isn’t it? I’ll have to start thinking about my own. You’re reminding me of how much I’d like to read the Stein and Two Lives, and also Mariana and another Josipovici. It sounds like you had a great reading year!

  10. Yaay, someone has started these lists! I’ve been waiting, procrastinating, can’t choose any for this year so far. I have so many I really liked. I thought about putting the Uncommon Reader on my list too, I haven’t decided, and I read Fire and Hemlock last year – I really enjoyed it, not quite as much as Nymeth though! You have a wide variety, that’s lovely to see on a favourite book list.

  11. So many good things on this list (Boy Meets Girl is excellent and I very much enjoyed your review) and Iahd a little suspicion that Dance NIght might make it too.

  12. I love your different categories–I’m not sure I’ve read such a great variety. I’m so happy to see Dawn Powell there! I really liked that book and it may well end up on my list, too. And both your comfort reads have been favorites of mine as well–I’d like to reread both of them. I also have The Morville Hours and Molly Fox’s Birthday on my stacks and might have to add a few more titles to my wishlist. The year is quickly slipping by, isn’t it?!

  13. Nymeth – I have every sympathy for any reader who gets obsessed with Diana Wynne Jones – that’s just the sort of author she is! And Fire and Hemlock is a book that makes you want to read it again. I know I’ll return to it, and that’s unusual for me.

    Pete – I’d be very interested to hear what you think about the Gladwell. It’s all about the context required for people to become super-successful and whilst it’s not at all psychological in its approach, there is a lot of psychology hidden in the margins. And naturally I’d love to know what you think of Josipovici!

    Kate – will you do a list this year? I always look forward to yours. 🙂

    Gentle reader – I love best of lists, but they do terrible things to my TBR piles! Looking forward to your list, too, as I think we have a lot of preferred authors in common.

    Mark – if you read anyone off that list, do make it Josipovici. I can imagine that he might appeal to you, and he’s something a bit special.

    ds – I’m quite sad in that the most exciting aspect of any new year is what books it will hold! They seem to be a dependable element in a capricious world. To have read three of the list already seems wonderful to me.

    Stefanie – lol! I hope to be revising too. And I am looking forward already to hearing what you will have to say about Mister J. 🙂

    Lilian – if 2010 is half as good as this year in terms of literary delights, I shall be a very contented reader. 🙂

    Grad – oh then I really do hope I don’t let you down. I think you are on safe ground with The Morville Hours and The Glass Castle – both such interesting books, and the former amazingly uplifting.

    Dorothy – I am looking forward very much indeed to your list! I had such a busy weekend this was all I had time to blog about (not that the week has improved much in terms of spaciousness!) so it was a little on the early side. But happy to start the ball rolling! 🙂

    Susan – it sort of ended up that way – I had no sense of variety especially, until I went through the list and realised I would need a lot of categories! I made my list quite a while ago though, and have been thinking about it. It does take a bit of thought to come up with the eventual winners! 🙂

    Jodie – I’m so glad you enjoyed Girl Meets Boy – I did love that book so much. And Dance Night was so beautifully written. Will you be doing a list too? I hope so.

    David – you’re welcome. 🙂

    Danielle – oh don’t tell me how fast it’s going by! I’m very much looking forward to your list when it comes out. I didn’t realise I’d covered a lot of categories until I came to deciding what I wanted to put in. I hope that 2010 contains more Dawn Powell – she was a real find this year, wasn’t she? 🙂

  14. Katherine Swift is on my list for the best of 2009 reading as well. Such a terrific book, and surprising to me, because I’m not at all a gardening fan and would rarely choose to read a book about it.

  15. Pleased to see that we both have Josipovici’s two novellas in one volume on our ‘Best Of’ list: such incredible storytelling. You’ve also got my favourite Leigh-Fermor book on your list. Most of the others I have not read but Dawn Powell is certainly on my TBR list. The only one that I cannot agree with is Alan Bennett’s little book, which I found a little too twee.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s