Should Have Reads 2009

It’s odd to believe that we have two weeks left of the year to go. It is especially irksome when I look at my shelves and see the wonderful books that came out in 2009 that I simply haven’t read yet. I feel most shameful. Then I think hang on a second I have two weeks to go, I can probably polish off another five or six of them by then and that is where you will be coming in shortly!

Last year I did a list of the books at the end of the year that I had meant to read but hadn’t and ten seemed a huge amount to me then. I think this years list will exceed that, we will see when I compile it below, which is odd considering I have read more books this year than I have any other year. I blame a new love of all classics in particular sensation novels partly and the fact that I still had so much I wanted to read at the end of 2008. From my should have read list last year I have only read two of the books I intended to in 2009 (though lots more I didnt intend to), it’s not promising is it?

So now I will hand it over to all of you as you were so helpful with my Gran’s list last week. Which of the following books published in 2009 that I have on the TBR must I really try and read before the year is through?

  • The Devil’s Paintbrush – Jake Arnott
  • All The Nice Girls – Joan Bakewell
  • The Death of Bunny Munro – Nick Cave
  • War on the Margins – Libby Cone
  • The Solitude of Prime Numbers – Paolo Giordano
  • The Lieutenant – Kate Grenville
  • The Other Half Lives – Sophie Hannah
  • The Believers – Zoe Heller
  • A Beginners Guide To Acting English – Shappi Khorsandi
  • Pretty Monsters – Kelly Link
  • Hells Belles – Paul Magrs
  • One Day – David Nicholls
  • The Angels Game – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • The First Person and Other Stories – Ali Smith
  • Noah’s Compass – Anne Tyler
  • Legend of a Suicide – David Vann

Actually that’s not as bad as I thought it would be. So over to you… which of these books must I try and devour by the end of the year and why? Which books published in 2009 have I missed and should have tracked down? I am looking forward to your thoughts as ever.


Filed under Ali Smith, Anne Tyler, Book Thoughts, Books of 2009, Jake Arnott, Kate Grenville, Paul Magrs, Sophie Hannah

40 responses to “Should Have Reads 2009

  1. I haven’t read any of these either but I’m eager to read what others recommend.

  2. I’m sure I’m not the only one who will recommend Legend of a Suicide. Not just because it’s good, but it’s short! If you read it now (well before Christmas, maybe), you’ll still have time to knock off another couple of books. Is that a good reason?

    Please read The Believers because I’m curious. I’ve heard so many good things about it but the cover turns me off.

  3. Curzon Tussaud

    Although I have loved Sophie Hannah’s previous books, I did not enjoy The Other Half Lives, and feel that Sophie’s incredible success and prodigious output has made her publisher wary of editing this book, which it desperately needs. The plot is over-complex, and she constantly refers back to events in the previous books, which I could not recollect clearly.
    “War in the margins” treats of the German occupation of Guernsey, and so is a good companion read to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. It is also reasonably short, and a quick read. For someone who passes on most contemporary fiction to friends, charity shops, or via Bookmooch; this one’s a keeper IMHO and will stay on the shelves here.

    • Oh thats a shame about Sophie. I have a big place in my bookish heart for her. I have actually realised that I can’t read that until I have read The Point of Rescue, so might read that one first and then pick up the huge hardback edition of The Other Half Lives that I have here.

      War of Margins I soooooo need to read.

  4. The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano. I’ve heard a lot of about this book and am curious to know whether it lives up to the hype!

  5. The only book on the list I’ve read is The Angel’s Game, which I listened to on audio. It wasn’t quite the magical read of The Shadow of the Wind, but was quite the wild ride, and I enjoyed it. Serious body count on that one. Not sure if this is the mood you are aiming for around the holidays, but would totally encourage you to get to it at some point!

  6. I’m not sure that you include many of the 2009 ‘must reads’ on that list. The only one I recommend is Legends of a Suicide, but I also think you should read The Help, Stone’s Fall and probably Cutting for Stone (but I haven’t read that one yet either) I’m not sure you’ll have time to fit them into 2009 though!

    I am interested in One Day, but I haven’t seen anyone really raving about it – only enjoying it.

    • This post isnt really about the must reads of 2009, more about which I must read from the list of the ones that I own and havent read yet but want to. I also think ‘must read’ is a bit subjective dependent on the reader.

      I think enjoying a book is a plus in any book. I am keen to give One Day a go. Stone’s Fall intrigues me but I didnt like his previous work so am unsure. The Help seems fab but I dont own it and Legend of a Suicide am gonna make sure I polish off.

  7. The one I’d most recommend is Beginner’s guide to acting English, although I have yet to read Legend of a suicide (waiting for library reservation) and I think that would be a contender too. I liked All the nice girls very much but not sure whether it is your sort of thing.

    • I think Beginners Guide… will possibly make me laugh lots and lots so may hold out for the post Xmas blues and read the day after the day after Boxing Day.

      Intrigued by All The Nice Girls even more now… I like a challenge he he.

  8. I’ve read afew on that list and all were excellent and very very different from each other:
    The Death of Bunny Munro – Nick Cave (slightly warped and full of sex, but an entertaining read nonetheless)
    The Solitude of Prime Numbers – Paolo Giordano (a heartbreaking love story, completely free of cliche, between two misfits)
    Pretty Monsters – Kelly Link (a collection of wickedly good fun short stories)
    Legend of a Suicide – David Vann (unusual and semi-autobiographical look at a boy coming to terms with his father’s suicide)

    • Legend of a Suicide and The Solitude of Prime Numbers are both a complete and utter must now Kim thank you. Pretty Monsters I have been meaning to read for ages. Nick Cave too for that matter.

  9. Dot

    I have read The Believers and I really enjoyed it and it really isn’t that long, I have The Other Half Lives sitting on my shelf which I might try and read before the end of the year but I have read so many mixed reviews!

    • I have Sophie’s next one on the way in the post so I must get on with this series. I am intrigued as to what happened as you are right its been very mixed in its reception.

      The Believers goes another notch up.

  10. I haven’t read any of the books on the list and (perhaps tellingly?) I only intend on reading three of them (and yet am in no rush to do so): The Death of Bunny Munro, The Beginner’s Guide to Acting English and Legend of the Suicide.

    I think a must-read of 2009 is After the Fire, A Still Small Voice and you may be interested in my post today on debut novels by female writers this year that I intend to read (hopefully before the year is out).

    Don’t forget The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Peyton Place! Looking forward to rereading the former and the salacious reading of the second!

    • I soooooo need to get my mits on a copy of After The Fire but think its gonna be more like a 2010 book as the post is rubbish and nothing from Amazon is realistically gonna arrive by the 31st unless you pay a million pounds delivery (well maybe a little less).

      Your ‘perhaps tellingly’ comment made me snigger. I will be catching up with blog posts from many of you today, have been a little hectic but will catch up.

  11. Hello, Simon! You should definitely read Zafon’s The Angel’s Game. It’s about books, book collecting, novelists, and novel writing! What’s not to love!

  12. I guess one of the hard things for us book lovers is that for every book we read, there are so many more that are published… but thankfully, great books have no expiration date, so a great book from 2009 will be just as good in 2010!

    Not that we need people adding to our lists, but I must say that one of my favourite books I read this year (regardless of publication date, though it was published in ’09) was Generation A by Douglas Coupland. It was a wonderfully imaginative exercise in writing and storytelling and I just found it exhilarating. I’m sad to see it hasn’t been picked up by many book bloggers because I really think it’s such a gem and deserves more recognition!

    • Steph you have summed something up so beautifully… great books have no expiration date! Thats truly wonderful. I guess at the mo I feel have just missed some books out I didnt want to in 2009.

      I havent read any Coupland your enthusiam has made me interested in this one.

  13. I have about half of these on my shelf waiting patiently too. The one I’d read first is The Believers by Zoe Heller because I love her writing, followed by the The Solitude of Prime Numbers – Paolo Giordano which I don’t know anything about but the title is wonderful.

  14. I haven’t read any of these books, but this one sounds the funniest!!!

    A Beginners Guide To Acting English – Shappi Khorsandi

  15. Eva

    I haven’t read any of these, BUT I read a short story from the collection Pretty Monsters (it was in an anthology I read) and loved it. So there’s that! 🙂 I tend to not worry about reading super recently published books unless they’re by my fave authors, so I don’t have a ton of advice for you!

  16. I read Pretty Monsters and The Angel’s Game this year but I wouldn’t say either is a must read ASAP though they were both good. I would have loved to get my hands on a copy of War on the Margins this year (was even offered one by the publisher that never was actually sent) … I vote for that one!

  17. Simon, I’d love to see a Solitude of Prime Numbers review from you. I almost bought the book in Italian to work on my language skills, but at $40 a book (hardcover) with import tariffs and all (i.e. about 90,000 quid at today’s exchange rates!), I decided my Italian practice would have to wait. P.S. I’ve had the Ruiz Zafon book on my shelves for a while, but I’ve heard so many bad things about it I’m not in any rush to get to it (and I liked his first novel). Ciao, amico!

    • Wowsers thats some serious pricing isnt it!!!! I heard it won lots and lots of awards in Italy, not that that shoudl affect the price ha. I bet you can get it on book depository in english for much cheaper.

      The Angels Game has been on my shelves for ages too and I dont know why I didnt devour it instantly as I loved the Shadow of the Wind!

  18. One of my absolute favourite books is on this list – The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville – it is definitely very Australian in tone and subject matter but it is a wonderful story.

    • Its shocking to admit but I havent read a word of Kate Grenville and I really should have. I might start with this and then read the others after, I have all of them on the TBR just have never read them.

  19. From what I’ve read above I will be very surprised if you haven’t at least started “The Angels Game” before the year is out. After what Peter said, you wont be able to resist it!

    “The Solitude of Prime Numbers” has generated a lot of interest with earlier commenters. I agree the title is wonderful, which is probably why it jumped out at me (metaphorically speaking) from the library shelves. I was also a little in awe of its author for having managed to write a prize winning international best seller at the same time as studying for a doctorate in particle physics. My hunch is that you will quite like it, perhaps because I’m making a connection between the darkness that exists in this book and your current passion for sensation fiction. Having said all that, personally I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about it.

    The only other title on your list that I have read is “One Day”, which I loved. (I posted my thoughts here: Of the rest, I’m most attracted by “War on the Margins” and the aforesaid Angels Game, but I wont be getting round to them until 2010.

    • Oh I am pleased someone loved One Day as it seems to have gone a little unnoticed. The Solitude of Prime Numbers intrigues me it has to be said, I loved the title and the premise of the book. I also feel I may have to start The Angels Game very soon, at the moment though am feeling (for about the fourth time this year) a bit booked out!

  20. I’d recommend The Believers, Noah’s Compass and Legend of a Suicde – Tyler was out in UK in November

    • I managed Legend of a Suicide before the year was through. I have Tyler on the Bedside Table now as you thankfully reminded me I own it, and am umming and ahhing about The Believers.

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