Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Read in 2009: Favorites, Not-So-Great Reads, and Everything in Between

In 2009, for the first time I can remember, I read more than 100 books in a year (126 to be exact). I read more good books than bad books, which is a good thing -- except when I tried to assemble a short list of my favorites. I don't assign ratings to the books I read as I review them, but at the end of each year, I look over my list of all the books I've read during the year and assign them a starred rating.  Now these starred ratings may differ from the ratings I assigned to the books in Goodreads or LibraryThing, but that's because in some cases I've had months since then to ponder the books and may have come to a greater understanding of what the author wished to accomplish...or the more I thought about it, the more I thought a particular book really didn't work for me.

Here is a list of all the books I read in 2009, with links to my reviews.  They are grouped by starred rating so you can see which ones I liked best and which ones didn't make the cut.  Assigning these ratings was hard, and I can be picky sometimes, as I might have really enjoyed a book but didn't think it merited 4 or 5 stars.  Please keep in mind that not all of these books were published in 2009, and they aren't ranked in any particular order within the categories.  I just listed the earliest reviews first.

5 stars
These books are brilliant.  I highly recommend adding these to your personal library.

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
Tomato Girl by Jayne Pupek
The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran
An Obsolete Honor by Helena P. Schrader
Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly
The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
Everyone Is Beautiful by Katherine Center
Coventry by Helen Humphreys
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
The Jewel Trader of Pegu by Jeffrey Hantover
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Seventh Well by Fred Wander
The Wave by Todd Strasser
Inés of My Soul by Isabel Allende
He Was My Chief by Christa Schroeder
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Night of Flames by Douglas W. Jacobson
A Match for Mary Bennet by Eucharista Ward
Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran
The Widow's Season by Laura Brodie
Inglourious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino
Night by Elie Wiesel

4 stars
These books really grabbed me, and I'm glad they're part of my library.

Breathing Out the Ghost by Kirk Curnutt
Reading by Lightning by Joan Thomas
The Scent of Sake by Joyce Lebra
Shapeshifter: The Demo Tapes (Year 1) by Susan Helene Gottfried
Keeping Hannah Waiting by Dave Clarke
Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews
The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham
Memory by Philippe Grimbert
That Went Well by Terrell Harris Dougan
Tender Graces by Kathryn Magendie
A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal
The Wonder Singer by George Rabasa
The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Let The Shadows Fall Behind You by Kathy-Diane Leveille
T4 by Ann Clare LeZotte
Holly's Inbox by Holly Denham/Bill Surie
Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa
Annie's Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg
The Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst
Hugh and Bess by Susan Higginbotham
Stones in Water by Donna Jo Napoli
The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
Floating in My Mother's Palm by Ursula Hegi
The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow
Time of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch
Bending Toward the Sun by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie with Rita Lurie
Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle by Major Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson, and Mary Nethery
Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
Betsy-Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill by Maud Hart Lovelace
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace
Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace
Betsy in Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace
Fire in the Hills by Donna Jo Napoli
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney
The Listeners by Gloria Whelan and Mike Benny (illus.)
Being Written by William Conescu
The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White
Ivy + Bean: Doomed to Dance by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall (illus.)
Searching for Pemberley by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Hitler's Daughter by Jackie French
The Silent Gift by Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley

3 stars
These books are worth the read, but for whatever reason, I just didn't completely LOVE them.

10 Days: Anne Frank by David Colbert
To My Senses by Alexandrea Weis
Frantic by Katherine Howell
The Sinner's Guide to Confession by Phyllis Schieber
Cooperative Village by Frances Madeson
Gold Dust on His Shirt by Irene Howard
Too Tall Alice by Barbara Worton and Dom Rodi (illus.)
Willing Spirits by Phyllis Schieber
The Mechanics of Falling and Other Stories by Catherine Brady
Rodeo Rocky by Jenny Oldfield
An Offer You Can't Refuse by Jill Mansell
Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon and Tony Ross (illus.)
Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy by Francesca Simon and Tony Ross (illus.)
Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine by Francesca Simon and Tony Ross (illus.)
Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb by Francesca Simon and Tony Ross (illus.)
The Lost Hours by Karen White
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Four Corners of the Sky by Michael Malone
Dear Anais: My Life in Poems for You by Diana M. Raab
Princess Katie and the Silver Pony by Vivian French
Mating Rituals of the North American WASP by Lauren Lipton
Precious by Sandra Novack
Miranda's Big Mistake by Jill Mansell
Bloody Good by Georgia Evans
Children of the Flames by Lucette Matalon Lagnado and Sheila Cohn Dekel
A Hatful of Cherries by Félix Calvino
Our Longest Days by Sandra Koa Wing (ed.)
Gray Apocalypse by James Murdoch
Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange
The Luckiest Penny by Deborah Weed and Ernest Socolov (illus.)
Dirty Water by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and Jere Smith
Millie's Fling by Jill Mansell
Testimony by Anita Shreve
Kali and the Rat Snake by Zai Whitaker and Srividya Natarajan (illus.)
Dancing With Ana by Nicole Barker
The 13 Days of Halloween by Carol Greene and Tim Raglin (illus.)
The Return by Victoria Hislop
Horrid Henry's Underpants by Francesca Simon and Tony Ross (illus.)
Horrid Henry and the Scary Sitter by Francesca Simon and Tony Ross (illus.)
Riddle in the Mountain by Daryl Burkhard
The Adventures of Songha: The Amazing Savannah Cat by Linda R. Caterine
The Sentinels: Fortunes of War by Gordon Zuckerman
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

2 stars
I'm not sorry I read these books, but I wouldn't recommend you run out and buy them.

The Holocaust: The Nazis Seize Power, 1933-1941 by Stuart A. Kallen
Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One by Sharon Lathan
Wild Horses by Jenny Oldfield
The Spare Wife by Alex Witchel
Follow Me by Joanna Scott
The 8th Confession by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
East Garrison by G.M. Weger
A Girl's Guide to Modern European Philosophy by Charlotte Greig
The Apple by Penelope Holt
The Hierophant of 100th Street by Cullen Dorn
The Sky Rained Heroes by Frederick E. LaCroix
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

1 star
These books didn't work for me at all.

Down to a Sunless Sea by Mathias B. Freese
Katie & Kimble: A Ghost Story by Linda Thieman
Conscience Point by Erica Abeel
Fairy Glade & Other Enchanting Tales by Dawn Beaumont-Lane
Otis: The Musical Owl by Joseph N. Chappelle

Did Not Finish
'Nuff said.

Nella Last's Peace by Patricia and Robert Malcolmson (eds.)

So there you have it -- my 2009 reading in a nutshell.

Wishing you all a happy 2010 filled with great books!


Serena said...

Way to go! That's some list. I find that I only read about 25 of those books at the most. LOL and people say we read all the same things...HA!

Jo-Jo said...

That is quite some list you have Anna! I've only read about a handful of these, but I've noticed a couple of your favorites that I also enjoyed. I hope that 2010 is just as good for you, if not better!

Susan Higginbotham said...

Thanks for mentioning my books, Anna! I need to re-read the Betsy-Tacy books one of these days--it's been a long, long time!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I love your description of the five stars! I've read a number of them. I didn't love Little Giant though. I think I'm the only person on this earth that didn't.

Lori Johnston said...

What a great list. Thanks so much for sharing. I certainly need to add some of your 4 and 5 star reads to my TBR list.

Stephanie said...

What a magnificent year of reading!

Blodeuedd said...

Some awesome books on those lists. And I truly need to buy the Heretic queen

bermudaonion said...

Wow, you did have a great year in reading!

Aarti said...

I'm so impressed by the number of 5-star books you read last year. Good work!

Melody said...

Great list! I'll definitely have to check out those rated 4 and 5 stars.

Lisa said...

That's a lot of 4 and 5 star reads. You had a great year of reading!

Andi said...

I see lots of books I've enjoyed or have hovering on my stacks on your 5-star list (and the 4-star list, too). I'm especially itchy to download an e-book copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society since my library STILL has a waiting list for it. I also have The Little Giant of Aberdeen County staring at me from my shelves. It's giving me dirty looks because it's taken me this long to give it serious booklusty attention.

Thanks for enabling!

Ti said...

I really like how you split this up. Very clear and to the point and it makes me think that I did not read enough really fabulous books as I read so few of your 5-star books.

Tara said...

Wow what a list! It's great to see it organized this way. I was jazzed to see Tomato Girl up hign on your list. I've heard so many good things about it, and just borrowed a copy from the library.

avisannschild said...

Wow, Anna, that is quite the list! I'm very impressed. I read two of your 5 stars (and enjoyed them both), but I see heaps of other on that list that are already on my wish list! (I only read four other books on your other lists, two of which I really disliked much more than you did!)

Iliana said...

Woo-hoo for breaking the 100 mark! You did read a lot of good books - I've got some of those 5 star books on my wishlist :)

Darlene said...

Wow, that's quite the list and so nicely separated. We have a lot of favorites in common! I hope you have another year full of awesome books!

Lenore Appelhans said...

I like how you organized this! I have 6 books on your 5 star list waiting in my stacks to be read, so I am excited about that.

Wanda said...

I spy a few books I've read, a few I own and need to get to and a few I'd like to read. Congrats on getting so many books read in 2009! Hope 2010 holds just as may great reads in store for you!

Anna said...

~Serena: That is amusing! Maybe it seems that way because when we do read the same book, we tend to review them right around the same time.

~Jo-Jo: Thank you!

~Susan: It was my pleasure! I can't wait to finish the Betsy-Tacy books this year.

~Sandy: Hey, some books just aren't for everyone. I got a kick out of the drinking game comment in your review!

~Lori: Thanks! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

~Stephanie: Thanks! I'm really happy with last year's reads.

~Blodeuedd: Yes, get your hands on The Heretic Queen! You won't be sorry.

~bermudaonion: Thanks!

~Aarti: Thanks! I was really surprised that I had so many. I felt really lucky to have had such a good reading year.

~Melody: I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

~Lisa: Thanks! I was very lucky to have chosen that many good books.

~Andi: I try my best! ;) If you only read one of the two, read Guernsey. It's short and sweet. I loved it!

~Ti: Thanks! Of course, not everyone would agree with all of my 5-star books, but I hope you give some of them a try at some point.

~Tara: I hope you get a chance to read it. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

~avisannschild: It's always interesting to see different opinions on the same books!

~Iliana: I hope you get a chance to read them and enjoy them as much as I did!

~Dar: Thanks!

~Lenore: Cool! I'm looking forward to your thoughts on them.

~Wanda: Thanks!