Sunday, December 6, 2009
Best Books of 2009
"Best of" lists are usually compiled just before Christmas and despite their ubiquitous appearance this time of year, they are universally reviled by the more cynical among us because they seem mostly manufactured to move "merch" off of the shelves of your local big box bookstore.
I actually like these lists. They are a reminder of all of the books I've read that year and of all the book I can still read if I hunker down and willfully ignore all of my family and friends needs. It's just what you want to do right around Xmas, non?
Here is my pick for the two best reads - fiction and non - for 2009:
Small Beneath the Sky by Lorna Crozier
This was, by far, the best non-fiction book I read this year. It is a memoir of growing up on the Canadian prairies in the late 50's and early 60's. Crozier is a Governor-General Award winning poet but her prose is equally as powerful. There is intimacy and humor in the retelling of her life with her family. The details are loving woven together, the language is rich but most of all, the book is deeply moving.
The Help by Katherine Stockett
I picked up this book after reading a profile of the first-time author in the New York Times. She spoke about growing up white in the South and how it was not uncommon to be raised by a black woman who you loved but knew nothing about. Her book, told from the perspective of 3 black maids circa 1959, was a risky choice to have made for a first-time writer, but the choice was inspired and well-executed. I read the book in 2 days, wept my face off and then promptly started passing it around amongst friends and family. The mere fact that it hasn't spent more than a week on my book shelf is a testament to the writing and ultimate success of the book which has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for more than 40 weeks. Hurrah! It is meant to be passed around and treasured.