Monday, January 11, 2010

Amy's Top 5 Books of 2009

I am very excited to talk about 5 of my favorite books that I read in 2009. These titles weren't necessarily published in 2009. I never can get to all the books published in one year that I really want to get to! And if you haven't already looked at my top 5 young adult books of 2009, why don't you take a quick peek?

5. Dexter by Design by Jeff Lindsay
If you watch the Dexter television series but haven't read the books, then you are really missing out on some brilliant, clever writing. If you don't know Dexter at all, let's just call him your friendly, neighborhood sociopath. Dexter is a serial killer who lives by a code that requires he only kill bad guys. Twisted? Yes. But you will find yourself rooting for Dexter. This is the fourth installment of the series and, to my great relief, is back to Jeff Lindsay-caliber writing. The first two books were fabulous, but book number three fell short of Lindsay's usual clever plotting. In this fourth installment, Dexter's home life has changed drastically and that means Dexter must be more clever than before. If you were disappointed with book three like I was, book four should lift your spirits (although that does sound funny when in reference to this series).

4. Johannes Cabal: the necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard
I actually bought this book after reading the first few pages at a bookstore and laughing hysterically in the middle of the aisle. Plus, I really just loved the cover. Johannes Cabal is, as the cover says, a necromancer. But he's also a big snob and sometimes kind of lazy. There is a great cast of bizarre and amusing characters and, as it turns out, hell is basically a place where the dead are stuck in an endless line because the massive amount of forms required to enter are too complicated for even the most supreme genius to complete. This is a great mix of horror, fantasy, and humor. It's a weird amalgamation of Jim Butcher, Douglas Adams, Christopher Moore, and Brian Lumley.

3. The Brief History of the Dead
I picked up this book because of an excerpt I heard the author read on NPR. It was beautiful. I couldn't stop thinking about it for days. When I finally read the entire book (it was one of our selections for the Woodland West book club), I read it pretty much in one sitting. While this isn't a book for every reader, it is one I highly recommend to someone who loves what certain authors can do with the English language, with description, with the idea of what a story is. In this novel, there is a city in which the dead live after they pass from their earthly lives. The people who live in this city are only there as long as there is someone alive on Earth who remembers them. But something terrible is happening on Earth because there is a sudden influx of the dead and, just as quickly, a sudden disappearance. I love how the author shows the importance of memories of little moments in the lives of his characters. If you enjoy slightly odd literature such as Carolyn Parkhurst's The Dogs of Babel (another absolute favorite of mine), I would recommend this title.

2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I almost feel as if I shouldn't even introduce this book because everyone is reading it! This is the story of three women who live in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962. Chapters alternate between two women who are "the help" (black maids to white women) and one white girl who has recently returned home from college. I loved the unique voices of each character, even the minor ones. Now, there are a few historical inaccuracies (like the mentioning of Shake 'n Bake, which wasn't in stores until a few years later, and the mentioning of a Bob Dylan song that hadn't come out yet), but they are done to help further plot and character development, so I am able to forgive them. I highly recommend the audio-book version of this. It is also available as a download-able book via our website.

1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
This last one is definitely not for everyone. It is a harsh, bleak, and ultimately horror-filled landscape that McCarthy writes about. The premise is that a disaster of some kind (most likely a bomb) has destroyed nearly all life on our planet. The reader follows a father and a son as they journey across the vast wasteland that America has become. We never know the names of the father and son, and this only serves to give them both an "everyman" quality. Many of the survivors have resorted to cannibalism of the most extreme kinds, but throughout their journey the father and son hold on to their humanity. McCarthy crafts gorgeous, lyrical sentences despite such a gruesome topic. In the end, this is a story about the persistence and endurance of the individual and of the pure, uncompromising love of a parent for a child. I also highly recommend the audio-book version of this. This novel won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

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