≡ Menu

Weekly Geeks 2009.43: Top Books of 2009

wg-relaxing-url5I’m generally behind the curve when it comes to recently published works because I don’t seek them out very often. The one major exception to that has always been the Harry Potter series, which I would get the day they were released and read nonstop until I finished. I miss that!

But anyway, this Top 10 List is extremely, extremely subjective. I actually read fewer than 10 new books this year, but I didn’t want to just include all of them since there were a few I didn’t think were that great. So here’s my list of new books in 2009 that I thought were awesome (reviews linked when possible).

undress me in the templeUndress Me in the Temple of Heaven Susan Jane Gilman — I listened to this memoir on audio book this summer and was spellbound the entire time. It’s gripping and interesting and terrifying and awesome. I’ll be posting the review in a couple weeks when I do a whole series of audio book reviews. (memoir)

Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters by Scott Rosenberg — I love reading about blogging, so I was hooked by this book. I love the way Rosenberg used people to tell the history of the form because it made the book much more readable. (nonfiction)

waiting for columbusWaiting for Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk — I finished this book most recently and I’m still happy with how awesome it was. If you like mystery and drama and relationships and twisting narratives, this bok should be near the top of your to-read pile. (fiction)

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneger — I didn’t love this book as much as I loved The Time Traveler’s Wife, but it’s a book that I plan to read again. I think that makes it a best book of this year. (fiction)

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Alison Hoover Bartlett — This book combined a bunch of things I love — journalists, books, and true crime that’s not terrifying — and made a compelling and fun read. I’m not sure if this will be a classic of the literary journalism/narrative nonfiction canon, but it was a good book. (nonfiction, literary journalism)

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf — I was worried this book would be too, I don’t know, dramatic chick lit, for me, but I was pleasantly surprised. Gudenkauf’s book is complex and interesting and fast-paced in a way that was unexpected and awesome. (fiction)

Have you read any of these books? Agreed or disagree with my assessments? What’s your favorite book published in 2009?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kathy November 21, 2009, 3:49 pm

    The only one I’ve read is Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven and I did enjoy it. The Weight of Silence is in my TBR pile.

    • Kim November 24, 2009, 8:28 am

      Kathy: I wish I’d read it rather than listened to it. When I got done I found out it was abridged and was so annoyed!

  • pussreboots November 21, 2009, 5:08 pm

    I haven’t read any of the books on your list.

    • Kim November 24, 2009, 8:28 am

      Pussreboots: You should 🙂

  • Care November 21, 2009, 5:19 pm

    I haven’t read any of these but I’m going to add them ALL to my wishlist because I always (usually) love what you do.

    • Kim November 24, 2009, 8:29 am

      Care: Yay! We do like a lot of the same books. I was trying to think of there was one I’d recommend more than the others, but I can’t really think. All of the first three are awesome and I think everyone should like them 🙂

  • Florinda November 21, 2009, 5:20 pm

    I was one of the few who didn’t seem to love The Weight of Silence. It was one of those “I wanted to like it more than I did” reads, which is always unfortunate.

    I’m going to have to put Waiting for Columbus on my list – it’s getting some really good reviews!

    • Kim November 24, 2009, 8:30 am

      Florinda: I’m sort of the opposite — I liked The Weight of Silence more than I expected I would. I think the use of different narrators helped do that for me. If it was a standard narrative, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much.

  • Amy November 21, 2009, 6:07 pm

    I have “The Weight of Silence” on my TBR list to read. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I have read some good reviews and your comments make me think I’ll enjoy it. I have both “The Man Who Liked Books too Much” and “Waiting for Columbus” on my TBR lists and have heard many good things about them. Glad to read you enjoyed them. I’m not really too interested in “Her Fearful Symmetry”. I really liked “The Time-Traveler’s Wife” and haven’t heard anything that makes me think Fearful is as good or better. But maybe one day I’ll read it. I am sure the book about Blogging was interesting. I may look into reading that one.

    Great post! Thank you!

    • Kim November 24, 2009, 8:32 am

      Amy: I don’t feel like it’s helpful to compare TTW and “Her Fearful Symmetry.” I think the reason I didn’t love HFS as much as I might have it because I was comparing it to TTW the whole time.

      “Waiting for Columbus” was awesome, I really enjoyed it.

  • Lisa November 22, 2009, 12:48 am

    I’m so glad to see The Man Who Loved Books Too Much on your list. I’m about 90 pages in and am enjoying it but not finding it compelling. Clearly I need to keep reading!

    • Kim November 24, 2009, 8:37 am

      Lisa: One of the reasons I loved the book so much was because I’m a journalist, and so all the stuff about researching the story and finding the characters resonated with me. So it’s hard for me to say how much other people will like it, but I hope that you’ll find it more interesting as you keep going!

  • Kay November 22, 2009, 10:29 am

    I really want to read “Her Fearful Symmetry” and “Waiting for Columbus”, and I’m glad to see you enjoyed those! That’s an interesting list though, I’ve her good things about “Undress me in the temple of heaven”, so maybe I should add it to my TBR.

    • Kim November 24, 2009, 8:38 am

      Kay: I think ‘Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven’ was my favorite book from this year. It was totally engrossing and exciting and awesome. I wish it hadn’t been an abridged audio book.

  • Jackie (Farm Lane Books) November 22, 2009, 10:35 am

    I’m surprised to see Her Fearful Symmetry in your list. I loved TTW, but was very disappointed by her latest book. It doesn’t make my top 10.

    • Kim November 24, 2009, 8:40 am

      Jackie: I didn’t love it when I was reading it, but I got done and thought that it was a book I’d want to come back to. And that doesn’t happen with a lot of books, so for that reason alone I felt like it should be one of my top books. When I read it again I’ll not expect it to be like TTW, and I think I’ll enjoy it more.

      I’m sorry you were disappointed by it thought!

  • Care November 22, 2009, 2:19 pm

    Can you believe I was just at Borders and they didn’t have either of the Gilman books?! oh well.

    • Kim November 24, 2009, 9:07 am

      Care: I can’t, that’s annoying!

  • A Bookshelf Monstrosity November 22, 2009, 6:32 pm

    Great list here. I’ve not read too many ‘new’ books recently, but quite a few of these are on my TBR list. I’d never heard of the book on blogging. Thanks for the suggestion!

    • Kim November 24, 2009, 9:07 am

      A Bookshelf Monstrosity: I was surprised I’d read this many new books, actually. I feel like I don’t read that many!

  • Steph November 22, 2009, 8:01 pm

    I haven’t read any of your 2009 books, but several of them are on my list of books I want to read (but probably not before the year is out!). I would have to say that while I’ve read plenty of strong books that were published this year, hands down my favorite has been Douglas Coupland’s Generation A. It thrilled me from beginning to end, was wonderfully clever, and is one book I want everyone to try!

    • Kim November 24, 2009, 9:08 am

      Steph: Thanks for mentioning that book, I’ve never heard of it before! I’m going to find your review and then put the book on my long list of books to look for 🙂

  • Meg November 23, 2009, 9:32 am

    The Weight Of Silence was very compelling, though I felt like I had a knot in my stomach the entire time I was reading it! I actually skipped ahead to the ending because I couldn’t take the suspense. It totally fried my precious nerves. 🙂 Haven’t read any of the others on your list, but looks like there are many good ones! I definitely want to get my hands on Her Fearful Symmetry sometime soon!

    • Kim November 24, 2009, 9:10 am

      Meg: Me too! She does such a good job of building suspense in the book and keeping the story going. I almost felt like the ending was to abrupt and I wanted more time for things to wind down 🙂

  • Beth November 23, 2009, 2:16 pm

    I have about 150 pages to go in Her Fearful Symmetry and am absolutely loving it. I also very much liked The Man Who Loved Books Too Much. I read it on an airplane and realized we were about to land and I hadn’t even sort of realized that much time had elapsed! I found it very compelling.

    I would say that my favorites of the year thus far are Castle, by J.Robert Lennon, Britten and Brulightly by Hannah Berry, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman, The Two Kinds of Decay by Sarah Manguso and I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Nimura.


  • Beth November 24, 2009, 8:32 am

    update. Finished HFS last night and loved loved loved it. It reminded me a lot of Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived In the Castle. Very Victorian and creepy.

    • Kim November 24, 2009, 9:11 am

      Beth: Oh good, I’m glad you loved it! I read ‘The Man Who Loved Books Too Much’ in just a couple of sittings — time flew as it went. I haven’t read any of your favorites, but I’ve heard lots about Chuck Klosterman. If there was one book someone should read RIGHT NOW, which one would you pick?

  • Beth November 24, 2009, 9:26 am

    oh my. from this year, i would say that When You Reach Me is my favorite. it’s YA but doesn’t feel like mainstream YA, and it was just wonderful. it made me feel like i was 12 again, but in a really good way. and my husband loved it too, so i would say that one 🙂

    • Kim November 27, 2009, 4:11 pm

      Beth: Cool, thanks. I don’t read a ton of YA, but I dive in sometimes. I have trouble reviewing it though, I never know what to say. I’ll look around for When You Reach Me to see if it’s my style or not.

  • Ti November 28, 2009, 10:30 pm

    Interesting… you didn’t care for Her Fearful Symmetry yet it made your “best of” list? Sometimes I find myself re-reading a book that I didn’t like to see if I missed its greatness. However, I know I won’t be re-reading HFS anytime soon even though there were parts that I did enjoy.

    • Kim December 1, 2009, 6:45 pm

      Ti: Maybe I didn’t articulate very well… I liked HFS when I read it, but it didn’t have the same emotional impact TTW had. And so in that sense I was a little disappointed with it. But it’s a book I feel like I missed things in, that I didn’t really appreciate because I was thinking of it as something else (maybe TTW: The Sequel). And it’s a book that I thought was complicated and interesting and thought-provoking, so I want to read it again. So because of that wanting to read again factor, it made my best books list.

  • gautami tripathy December 4, 2009, 8:40 pm

    Waiting For Columbus is on my wishlist!

    Weekly Geeks: Top Books of 2009