Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Best New Book I Read This Year

One thing I love about December are the "Best book of the year" lists. There are lists everywhere you look. From the National Book Award nominees to the New York Times Notable Books, to different blogs, websites and even Amazon's listmania. It seems everyone has an opinion. Every year I pour through the lists and place holds on the books that others think were great.

Last year everyone was talking about The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (Loved It!) and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Hated it). I wouldn't have read these and many other books if others hadn't shared them on their lists.

This year I have decided to name the best new book I read this year. Now I didn't have any specific criteria or methodology. I just thought to myself, what was the best book I read this year, and one book came to mind. There were probably others that I read earlier in the year that are equally worthy, but they fall victim to my poor memory.

And the Winner is: A Quiet Belief in Angels by R.J. Ellory.

I have not read anything else by him. He had me at the author bio, which starts, "Orphaned at the age of seven and sent to prison for poaching when he was seventeen, R. J. Ellory...

A Quiet Belief in Angels is a haunting suspense novel. It is beautifully written, but it has a lot of brutality. Be forewarned. It is about a serial killer in Georgia who targets young girls. But it also more than that. It is about how those tragedies effect the individuals and the community.

What about you, what was the best new book you've read in 2009?


Jo said...

My vote goes to Richard Russo's That Old Cape Magic. It's a coming of age story with a twist - the character coming of age is 60 years old.

I also was absolutely delighted with James Lee Burke's Pegasus Descending. I listened to it "performed" by Will Paton on audiotape and his narration brought out so much of the local color and humor in Burke's consistently great writing.

Roberta said...

The book that spoke to me the most this year was Drood by Dan Simmons, but several people who trust me, alas, tried it and gave up. Wondering, probably, what I was on about. It's highly unreliable narrator was the laudanum-addicted Wilkie Collins, writing about the unlikely mystery of his friend Dickens and the mysterious sharp-toothed figure of Drood. If you liked The Egyptologist, you'll like Drood. And vice versa.

Anonymous said...

Absent from many "best" lists is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. While it may not be the best book I've read all year, it has been one of those books that has been very popular and at the same time stimulates conversation.

Lynne said...

My favorite book of 2009 has got to be Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell. It's fast-paced with intriguing characters, and best of all -- wickedly funny!

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