Top 5 Books of 2009

Watchmen by Alan Moore

When the hype started building around Zack Snyder’s adaptation of the Alan Moore classic, I had to read the original for myself. The book is brilliant: Moore uses the genre to it’s full potential. Dialogue from one story will narrate another, and as a result there are often three storylines coinciding in one panel, weaving in an out of each other. And beyond that, his characters are concrete and believable, flawed and full of hope.

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller

Alexandra Fuller’s memoir about growing up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) during civil war is striking in its honest portrayal of her parents: they’re blatantly racist, but still we sympathize with them. They’ve come to Rhodesia without an agenda. They just want to live the simple farm life, and we can’t help but accept that in its own right.

I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley

Self-deprecating, honest and mordant, Sloane Crosley has an incredible knack for tying musings into detailed, witty stories. This was my first time listening to a “book on tape,” and it was a great introduction: Crosley herself narrated the meandering autobiographical stories with her signature dry wit.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez multi-layered epic is filled with charismatic characters. The book takes place in the fictional town of Macondo, a place filled with magic, sorrow and passion. Wikipedia might have said it best: “ostensibly objective but often manifestly ridiculous.” I loved it fully and completely.

Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill

Heather O’Neill crafts the heartbreaking story of Baby, an adolescent girl who is raised by a single, drug-addicted father in Montreal’s red light district. I’ve recommended this book half a dozen times with a disclaimer, but everyone who reads it says they love it. A sad, beautiful book filled with empathy and heart.

Runner Up: Pobby and Dingan by Ben Rice

Like Little Criminals, Ben Rice’s debut mixes beauty and sadness in his novella about a girl in small-town Australia with two imaginary friends. I was fascinated by Rice’s faith in the power of imagination, which eventual captivates the whole of this backcountry town.

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3 Responses

  1. One Hundred Years of Solitude is definitely in my top five for 2009, too.
    Though I’ve certainly heard of The Watchmen, I don’t really know much about it, but your description has made me want to read it.

  2. Thrilled to see Pobby and Dingan included here. I heard Heather O’neill read a short piece on NPR a couple years ago and have been meaning to pick up Lullabies since it came out. Thanks for reminding me.

  3. Watchmen is definitely the best comic I’ve ever read. Not that I’ve read a ton, but it’s worth picking up.

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