Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What I read in 2009

This year I made a point of keeping a list of everything I read. Maybe my brain is just getting old, but I hate it when my friend sends me that e-mail asking for my top five books of the year and I am left tearing my hair and squinting, trying to remember. Here are the books I read in 2009, in the order (more or less) that I read them.

Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio
Elizabeth George, In Pursuit of a Perfect Sinner
Elizabeth George, Write Away
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice****
Dante Alighieri, The Inferno****
Carol Shields, Jane Austen
Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano
Toni Morrison, A Mercy***
Natalie Tyler, The Friendly Jane Austen
Laura Lippman, What the Dead Know
Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies**
Gary Paulsen, The Car
John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany***
John Updike, Rabbit, Run****
Laura Lippman, No Good Deeds
Laura Lippman, The Sugar House
Laura Lippman, Life Sentences
Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go***
George Eliot, Middlemarch****
Ron Rash, Chemistry and Other Stories**
Matthew Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft
Heather Sellers, Page After Page
Eula Biss, Notes from No Man's Land***
Edward P. Jones, All Aunt Hagar's Children****
Chester Himes, A Rage in Harlem
Kelly Gallagher, Readicide
Penny Kittle, Write Beside Them
Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods
Anonymous, Burton Raffel translator, Beowulf
Traci Gardner, Designing Writing Assignments
Kathryn Stockett, The Help
Lynda Barry, 100 Demons**
Joseph O'Neill, Netherland***
Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux, The Poet's Companion
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath****
David Lee, The Porcine Canticles
Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Apocalyptic Swing****
Kim Addonizio, Ordinary Genius
Markus Zusak, The Book Thief**
Dr. David Kessler, The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite
Danny Gregory, The Creative License
Jean M. Twenge, PhD, and W. Keith Campbell, PhD, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement
L.K. Ludwig, True Vision: Authentic Art Journaling
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter***
Ellery Akers, Knocking on the Earth
Larry Levis, Elegy
Katherine Howe, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

That is the list -- and I still have that strange feeling that I have left something off.

I look at this list, and I feel a sense of loss. There are so many books that I wanted to read and did not. And I am really saddened that there is not a single title by Anthony Trollope on the list. A dreadful oversight.

Four stars means the book was truly extraordinary (for me when I read it -- who am I to assign ratings to Dante and Jane Austen?). Allow me to rephrase that: four stars means I had a truly extraordinary experience of the book. There are several books of poetry on this list, one by a relatively young and divinely gifted poet whose father was once my teacher, about half a light-year ago. I continue to worship at the feet of Edward P. Jones, and feel he is underrated and not as well-known as he deserves to be. Toni Morrison's prose always makes me melt. Eula Biss is an essayist who addresses issues of race sensitively and with precision. Next year I hope to read more essay collections, more poetry collections -- more in general. And I will definitely read several titles by Anthony Trollope, because I feel I have neglected my secret love.

When I read I fall into a state that is divine, dreamlike, and limitless. Time is suspended, the world recedes from me. I cannot think how anyone lives without this sensation.

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