Thursday, December 17, 2009

We read books in 2009. Here are our favorites.

There were a lot of books that came out in 2009 I wanted to read. We know the motto though, time is of the essence. I will not pretend to act like I know what really happened in the lit world in 2009.

All I know is that I started
Inherent Vice and couldn't/didn't want to finish it.

All I know is that 2009 made me tired of one of my favorite authors (here's looking at you, Dave Eggers. I still like you, I just kind of OD'd on you. For the record, Vol. 1 Brooklyn was my pusher).

All I know is that Dan Brown and Stephanie Meyer are more of a threat to literature than ebooks.

All I know is that I haven't made room yet for
Scorch Atlas (gasp!) or Chronic City, two books I'm pretty sure I'd like. Also right now, I'm in the middle of 2666, Simmons' Book of Basketball, Lipsyte's new one and have Blood's A Rover and Amigoland on hold at the library. Those may have found their way on here if I finish any of them before the year is out.

So this is a list of the books we enjoyed the most this year and had never read before. Some of these books came out in 2009, some of them didn't. This is not a "best of" list; it's a favorites of 2009.

My list is up first, followed by Josh Rank....

1. The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
2. Hopscotch by Cortazar
3. Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
4. The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno
5. Sunlight at Midnight, Darkness at Noon by Christopher Cunningham & Hosho McCreesh
6. Hard Times by Studs Terkel
7. if on a winter’s night a traveler by Calvino
8. Columbine by Dave Cullen
9. Arkansas by John Brandon
10. Shake the Devil Off by Ethan Brown
11. Lowboy by John Wray
12. Adderall Diaries by Stephen Elliott
13. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
14. A.D. new orleans after the deluge by Josh Neufeld
15. Our Noise: the story of merge records by John Cook
16. Floodmarkers by Nic Brown

Josh Rank's

1. Deliverance - James Dickey

The writing style had me hooked from the second page. I bought the book because I heard there was a pretty gnarly sodomy scene but there turned out to be a really good book on both sides of it. It ended up being based around a group’s struggle with morality when faced with the possibility of zero repercussions. Is it okay to kill when it’s necessary? The group answered in a scene so vividly described I felt as if I were climbing the trees right beside them.

2. What is the What – Dave Eggers

If you think your life sucks, read this book. The main character, Valentino Achak Deng, is a real person. Yeah, this actually happened to somebody. The book outlines Deng’s journey out of war-torn Sudan and into Atlanta where things continue to go wrong. You think it sucks that your girl/boyfriend broke up with you? Well at least you don’t have to worry about lions eating your head after you just watched your mother get shot in the face.

3. Pygmy – Chuck Palahniuk

Palahniuk has made a name for himself taking fiction into new directions. Pygmy takes that idea to another level. Written in the voice of an adolescent, non-native English speaker, it is a chore to trudge through at first. After getting used to the style, though, the story lives up to Chuck’s level of story-telling.

4. When You Are Engulfed in Flames – David Sedaris

A main concern for musicians and writers alike is to not repeat yourself. However, when your style is as good as Sedaris’ this doesn’t need to be a concern. If you like anything he’s every written, this book doesn’t disappoint.

5. A Father’s Story – Lionel Dahmer

I may have an unhealthy interest in serial killers. When I got a chance to read about the childhood of my favorite one (is it wrong to have a favorite?) I jumped at the chance. Be prepared to actually think of Jeffery Dahmer as a person and not a monster. It’s a little strange.

6. Blindness – Jose Saramago

An epidemic of blindness takes over. People freak and lock up the infected in an old insane asylum. Shit gets crazy. Beautifully chosen words drag us through the mud of blindness and we come out with a great story.

7. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

If you like books that give you characters you become attached to, this book is not for you. Characters come and go constantly from page one until the end. However, the manner of their entrances and exits provide a narrative that makes you feel like you’re reading a dream.

8. Women – Charles Bukowski

Watch an interview with Bukowski and then read this book. Everything will make perfect sense. However, feminists should stay far, far away.

9. Dream House – Valerie Laken

A young couple buys a house together only to find it to be the scene of a crime from years before. The writing style is enough to pull you through but the consistently moving action acts as a motor that doesn’t let you stop until you’re finished. Plus, the author is a pretty sharp dresser.

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