I haven’t read as many books as I wanted this year. I only managed to read 16 books, half of which I completed while killing time at work. Here then are my favorite reads of 2009.
1. In Cold Blood. Hands-down the best book I’ve read this year. Truman Capote’s non-fiction novel tells the 1959 murders of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas and the ensuing investigation. Capote’s wonderful writing reminds me of other great reads I had – Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections.
2. A Thousand Splendid Suns. This epic novel from Khaleid Hosseini released in 2007 spans 5 decades, telling the harrowing story of two women whose lives meet in war-torn Afghanistan. Hosseini depicts a thriving country of Afghanistan in the 1960s and the ensuing wars that destroyed it.
3. The Hunger Games. Cited as one of the best books of 2008 by no less than The New York Times, this young-adult novel by Suzanne Collins is a tamed-down version of the ultra-violent Japanese film Battle Royale. This is one of my surprise reads this year that I liked.
4. The Time Traveler’s Wife. Audrey Niffeneger’s 2003 novel is an unconventional love story between Henry and Clare. Unconventional in the sense that Henry has a genetic disorder that allows him to travel in time – they first meet when Clare was 6 and the man in his 20s (or 30s?).
5. The Company You Keep. Neil Gordon’s novel is a neclectic mix of politics, love story, and catch-me-if-you-can thriller. It tells the story of Jim Grant, a lawyer and raising his daughter as a single dad, but when his militant past catches up to him, he abandons his daughter, and goes on the run. A surprisingly terrific read.
6. Catching Fire. Cited among the 10 best books of 2009, this second book in The Hunger Games trilogy brings us back to the fictional country of Panem, to District 12, and to Katniss Everdreen. The sequel follows the life of Katniss and her partner Peeta Mellark after controversially winning the games in the previous novel.
7. The Sweet Hereafter. A school buses loaded with children one winter morning falls into an icy lake, killing all of its passengers except for two – 15-year-old Nicole who is now stuck in a wheelchair and the driver. The aftermath of this accident is the focus of Russel Banks sad 1991 novel which was adapted to the screen by Atom Egoyan in 1997.
8. The Feast of Love. This is the fourth novel from Charles Baxter. According to readinggroupguides, it is a sumptuous work of fiction about the thing that most distracts and delights us. In a re-imagined Midsummer Night’s Dream, men and women speak of and desire their ideal mates; parents seek out their lost children; adult children try to come to terms with their own parents and, in some cases, find new ones.