I’m back! And Faves from ’09

So, I made it to my new home in Florida in one piece.  🙂  I have to say, it was quite a journey driving down here (from Chicago), moving everything in quickly so as to return the truck on time, and starting to get our new place in order, but the rough spots have been ironed out (mostly) and we are moved in.  I was so excited yesterday to get my computer set up so I can get back to blogging and catching up with all of you.  I logged onto Google Reader today to find 1000+ unread posts, and although I was expecting that, I became very overwhelmed.  I’ve been slowly reading some of your posts, but don’t expect many comments this week – I kind of just want to get through it so I can start fresh.  So I’ll be reading those fast. 🙂

I have five reviews to finish to wrap up the books I’ve read in 2009, so expect to see some or all of those this week.  I would like to quickly highlight my favorite books of 2009.  I’m going to break them down into young adult fiction, adult fiction, and nonfiction.  Here they are:

Young Adult Fiction faves:

Looking for Alaska by John Green – This book hit me so hard I can’t properly explain it.  It just reached out, grabbed my heart, and did not let go.  I loved it so much.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson – I just found the ideas in this book to be so fascinating.  And the way the story was put together completely drew me in – I loved the characters and everything else about the novel.

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen HeadleyThis one really resonated with me because I truly identified with the main character.  There were aspects of her personality that were so like my own, I couldn’t help but be drawn to her and become invested in her story.

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork – To say that I LOVED this book would be an understatement.  Marcelo truly captured my heart, and the story itself was just so beautiful.  I loved every single thing about this novel.

Hate List by Jennifer BrownI shed more than a few tears while reading this one.  The story was just so beautifully written, while being heartbreakingly sad at the same time.  It was also one of the more realistic teen books I’ve ever read.

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness – I loved both of Ness’s novels, but I liked the second one just a smidge better than The Knife of Never Letting Go.  I highly recommend this series.

Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsAgain, I loved both books in this series.  I can’t really pick a favorite between Catching Fire and The Hunger Games, so I would just encourage you to read this series too.

Adult Fiction faves:

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson – This book is every bit as creepily awesome as everyone says it is.  It had such a sinister feel to it, and such interesting (and confusing) characters, I just loved it.  And you can’t beat the length – it’s readable in one afternoon.

The Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Road is not an easy read, but it’s so worth it.  There is just this gorgeous quality to this novel that is impossible to put into words.  It’s painful but beautiful all at once.

The Laws of Harmony by Judith Ryan Hendricks – I fell in love with this adorable book from page 1.  Everything about it – the characters, the sense of place, the story of how one woman’s past creates incredible pain in her present/future – I loved.  I can’t recommend this one enough.

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner – Historical fiction at its absolute best.

Everything Asian by Sung J. Woo – This “novel in stories” completely won me over.  There was something so charming about this book, and I really couldn’t put it down.

City of Refuge by Tom Piazza – This is absolutely my favorite fiction book of the year.  The way Piazza managed to personalize Hurricane Katrina and put faces and personalities and lives on people who lived through the disaster amazed me.  Also, he so captured the feel of New Orleans that now I really would like to travel there.  This book is beyond words – I more than loved it.

In the Woods by Tana French – I know you’ve all heard about what an amazing writer French is … well, it’s all true.  She’s seriously amazing at crafting a suspenseful story, creating complex and realistic characters, and putting it all together in a way that tugs at your heart.  I loved both this and The Likeness, her other novel.

Nonfiction faves:

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver – This book forced me to look at food in a whole new way.  I haven’t really put into practice much of what Kingsolver suggests, but I really learned a lot and still consider making big changes with regard to my own consumption in the future.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell I’m not sure how factual Gladwell’s conclusions are, but he sure convinced me.  This was a very thought-provoking read for me.

The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn Saks – Saks’ memoir about dealing with schizophrenia for her entire life is so eye-opening that I suggest everyone read it.  She is an incredibly brave person with quite a story to tell.  I was totally entranced by this book and Elyn’s story.

Yes Means Yes! edited by Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman – This essay collection was very hard for me to review because I shared some really personal stuff in my review.  But I felt it was necessary to do so, and I’m glad I did.  I cannot possibly explain how important I think this book is.  Everyone should read it.

I read a LOT of seriously awesome books this year, and while those were my faves, there were easily 10 or 20 more I’d like to gush about.  I’m really hoping that my year of reading in 2010 will be just as awesome.

Happy New Year everyone!  See you all in 2010. 🙂

10 thoughts on “I’m back! And Faves from ’09”

  1. Glad to hear you had a safe trip. And Florida sounds great right now as I look outside to the 6 inches of snow we got today.
    I haven’t read any of these, but lots of them are on my reading list because of you! I do have Jenna Fox checked out of library. Now I just need to make the time to read it.

  2. I am glad the move went well and to hear that you are settling into your new home. It’s good to have you back! In the Woods made my favorites list this year too. I hope to get to The Road this year–maybe even this month!

    I hope you have a great New Year!

  3. I’m glad that you’re moved and back to blogging. Good luck with your new home. The Center Cannot Hold sounds right up my alley; I just put it on hold at the library. Thanks.

  4. This is truly inspiring. Barbara Kingsolver will be presenting writers’ workshops at the San Miguel Writers Conference in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico February 19-23 2010. I just signed up. It looks like a rare opportunity to meet her. Are you going?

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