Best Books of 2009

I read a total of 64 books this year which is a good number for me. I think I increased my speed after I started my book blog. I read many wonderful books and in fact, I confess that many of them were Persephone books (seventeen to be exact). Its really been a Persephone year and I suspect the next one will be the same. I really tried to have a wider range of books on this list so I thus limited the list to three Persephones and I didn't repeat any authors. Indeed, it wasn't easy to come up with a final list of the best ten of 2009 but here it is in no particular order. The top ten are....(drum roll)....

They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple
I discovered Dorothy Whipple this year and I read six of her books. If I could list most of them here, I would. They are all wonderful. However, I limited myself to only one Whipple for this list and my absolute favourite is still the first one I read which is They Were Sisters. The story follows the married lives of three sisters and though it's a domestic story it's a page-turner. I simply couldn't put it down.

The Age of Innocence of Edith Wharton
I can't believe it took me so long to read this book. A beautiful and devastating novel about love and loss set against the backdrop of old New York. Gorgeous and unforgettable.

The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This was my first FHB book having never read any of her children's novels. A thoroughly engrossing read. I was actually surprised to find out that the Persephone version I read was abridged. You can read my posts on that here and here.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
I loved this book although I wasn't quite sure at first. It got better by the second half at which point it was unputdownable. I think it makes you look at people quite differently because really nothing is what it seems. A dowdy, middle-aged, uneducated, aloof concierge in a Parisian apartment building who reads Tolstoy, listens to classical music, loves Dutch paintings and classic Japanese movies. Who would have thought there was a an intelligent mind lurking there? But of course, it took two quite special people to see it.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
What an absolutely delightful read! I loved it! Loved every character in the book and all the stories they had to tell. You can read my more detailed review here.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This might be the oddest book on a list like this but I had to put this in because I was completely riveted by this young adult novel from start to finish. I devoured it as I did the second book in the trilogy. I'm eagerly anticipating the third book which will be released in August 2010.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I wish I had read this as a child or a young teenager. But it's also a joy to read now as a wife and mom. It contains a wealth of valuable life lessons for daughters, wives and mothers. It's a truly special book and I think it should be required reading for every young girl.

 Mariana by Monica Dickens
This is one of those Persephones that some people didn't enjoy but I thoroughly did. A very cozy, warm, enjoyable and satisfying novel about a young girl coming of age in England in the 1930's. Since it was written in the same period it gives an accurate picture of life in England at that time.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Atwood is brilliant. I was completely blown away by this novel. An excellently constructed book about the devastating effects of genetic engineering with a love triangle thrown in. More here.

A Homemade Life by MollyWizenberg
Molly's food blog, Orangette was one of my inspirations to enter into the world of blogging. Molly writes wonderfully about food interspersed with stories about important events in her life and meeting her soul mate through her blog. She ends every chapter with a recipe. My own copy is filled with purple post-it notes of recipes I've tried or have yet to try. This book has been lying around my house for most of the the kitchen, by the couch and even in the car. So in a way, I really identify this book with the year 2009.

So what do you think of my final list? Have you read any of these novels? This will be my last post for 2009 so I'll sign off for now. I wish you all a Happy New Year and I'll see you in 2010!


  1. Wow, Mrs. B! 64 books! I only managed to read 48 this year, especially with the new work and all. I can see that we have a few things in common with your list. I really loved The Elegance of the Hedgehog and The Hunger Games. And you got me interested in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

    I do notice one thing about your list of best books though -- all of the authors are women! Is this intentional?

  2. I love your picks for best books. I completely agree with you on Hedgehog and Guernsey - those two books were just amazing! They were 2 of my favorites for this year. And Little Women is a classic that just really is a great piece of literature. Looking forward to reading your reviews of books in 2010!

  3. @Peter- Yes, I just noticed before I published the post that all the books I picked are by women authors. That wasn't intentional at all.
    When are you posting your list?
    @Nadia - thanks! It was a wonderful reading year.

  4. Great list :) I completely agree with the Little Women addition of course!

  5. 17 Persephones? I'm a bit envious, as I've only read one.

    Happy New Year!

  6. Great list - a couple I totally agree with (Mariana, Little Women) and a couple I will be putting on my list for 2010! Now, to whittle down my 42 books read this year to a top 10!
    Oh, and I see you are reading Glass of Time by Michael Cox at the moment...I read The Meaning of Night a while ago and adored it. Have had Glass of Time on my Amazon wish list since then - think I will have to buy it myself!

  7. Yay for 64 books! I feel the same way though, ever since starting my blog, I've upped the anti on how much I read! :D

  8. What a wonderful list! Dorothy Whipple was one of my favorite 'discoveries' this year. They Were Sisters will be her next book I read. Wharton is also a favorite (especially The Custom of the Country), but Age of Innocence is still on my shelf.

  9. I just finished Oryx and Crake too! It blew my mind! I just started reading Atwood this summer, and CANNOT stop. I've haven't felt that way about an author since i was a kid, and first learing to read!

    Age of Innocence is one of my favorites or all time. Have you seen the movie staring Daniel Day Lewis? It's really good. One of the rare few where you can say it was ALMOST as good the book.

  10. Have you seen the movie version of "The Age of Innocence"? I thought it a very good adaptation. Will be picking up the Whipple recomendation next trip into town.

  11. I loved Mariana, too. It's one of my favorite Persephones! I'm impressed you read so many--I read far too few considering how quickly I buy them!! And I just ordered The Elegance of the Hedgehog! Happy reading in 2010!

  12. I've only read Little Women, but every single one of the others appeals to me! I really have got to try Whipple in 2010.

  13. Hope that you have a Happy and Healthy New Year. May all the books that you read in 2010 be terrific.

  14. I really need to read Persephone books next year! They all seem so great. Have a great new year!

  15. Wow, 17 Persephones! That would be many book bloggers' idea of heaven! I read my first Persephone this year and quickly decided that I need to read more. But even apart from the Persephones, your top ten books of the year all look great (and several have been added to my TBR pile!).

  16. @Alison and Danielle - It's wonderful to find other people who loved Mariana.
    @Daniel-Halifax and Tessa - yes I saw the film Age of Innocence right after I read the book. I thought it was an excellent adaptation. Scorcese did a great job and of course Day-Lewis is always excellent!

  17. What a lovely list of books! The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Orangette's book are two of my favourite reads of 2009 as well. Happy New Year!

  18. You have so many good books on your list! The Elegance of the Hedgehog made it onto my list as well.

  19. I have an award for you! :)

  20. I totally agree with you on Little Women, one of my all-time faves.

    I'm going to try Hunger Games which I already have in my TBR pile. As for Atwood's Oryx and Crake, you just piqued my interest in this. Hmmm...another book to add to my wishlist. :)

  21. I really enjoy your blog and I can't wait to pick up my own copies of a lot of these books! I think we do have the same taste. I am especially intrigued by the Persephone books, and yes The Elegance of the Hedgehog was wonderful.

    Baci from Italy

  22. Some similarities here! I also loved A Homemade Life and was a big fan of Mariana.

  23. Wonderful list! 'Little Women' is one of my favourites too! I haven't heard of Frances Hodgson Burnett's 'The Shuttle' before. I have 'The Hunger Games' and 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog' on my 'To Be Read' list. I am new to your blog and I think it is wonderful! I love the images of old books which are there on the side of the page :)


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