My year in reading

Every year, I keep a list of books I’ve read, noting each one in a journal as I finish them. Yeah, it’s nerdy, but it’s also terribly satisfying. Looking back over the list is like reviewing a photo album of memories where I can pause on one or another to say, Ah, yes. I remember you well. I really liked you.

And, at the end of the year, I whittle the list down and star my top five, like it’s the Academy Award of books. They don’t win anything, except my affection and a mention in the Best Books I Read Last Year widget on the side of my blog. This year, however, was tough, maybe because I read fewer books than usual. Two books got the coveted star right away: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout and Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. The other three nods went to Netherland by Joseph O’Neill, The Bright Forever by Lee Martin, and one nonfiction selection: Sex, Sleep, Eat, Drink, Dream by Jennifer Ackerman.

The full ’09 list included 21 books  (15 novels and 6 nonfiction titles noted in red):

  1. Goldengrove by Francine Prose
  2. The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn (gave up on this one)
  3. The Thing Itself by Richard Todd
  4. The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society by Chris Stewart
  5. The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam
  6. Blindness by Jose Saramago
  7. Cruciverbalism by Stanley Newman
  8. All the Living by C.E. Morgan
  9. Netherland by Joseph O’Neill
  10. Sex, Sleep, Eat, Drink, Dream by Jennifer Ackerman
  11. Olive Kitteredge by Elizabeth Strout
  12. I See You Everywhere by Julia Glass
  13. Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
  14. April & Oliver by Tess Callahan
  15. Abide with Me by Elizabeth Strout
  16. What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us by Laura van den Berg
  17. Koula by Menis Koumandareas
  18. Americans in Space by Mary Mitchell
  19. Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
  20. The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
  21. The Bright Forever by Lee Martin

What were your top picks last year?

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