The Best Books of 2009

The BookDepository

There aren’t many weeks left in 2009, so I thought that now was a great time to share my favourite reads of 2009. I was surprised to see that the only author I had previously enjoyed was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – the rest were all new to me. The books I was most looking forward to at the start of 2009 (The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters,  Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins) were all slightly disappointing and failed to make this list.






Stone’s Fall – Iain Pears (Literary Mystery)  stars51


The Wilderness – Samantha Harvey (Literary Fiction) stars51


2666 – Roberto Bolaño (Literary Mystery) stars51


Legend of a Suicide – David Vann (Literary Fiction) stars4h



The Island at the End of the World – Sam Taylor (Fiction) stars4h


The Help – Kathryn Stockett (Fiction) stars4h.


Heliopolis – James Scudamore (Fiction)  stars4h


How to Paint a Dead Man – Sarah Hall (Literary Fiction) stars4h


The Glass Room – Simon Mawer (Literary Fiction) stars4h


The Ghosts of Eden – Andrew Sharp (Fiction)  stars4h


The Thing Around Your Neck – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Short Story) stars4h


The Invisible Mountain – Carolina De Robertis (Fiction) stars4h

Other books which I have heard amazing things about are:

The Housekeeper and the Professor – Yoko Ogawa

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

I’m not sure I’m going to fit these in before the end of 2009, but I’ll ensure that I get copies as soon as they are out in paperback/appear in my library!

Are there any other 2009 books which you recommend I read?

What is your favourite book of 2009 so far?

Send to Kindle


  1. Claire says:

    Are you only looking for books that were published this year? I don’t read enough new fiction to comment and doubt I have read anything published this year that you haven’t yourself.

    A few of my favourites of the year are listed above but this has been such a good year for me and I have read so many great books. It is far too early for me to produce my list – I have high expectations for the next seven weeks!

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, Yes, just books published this year – I’ll have a list for all the other books I’ve read at the end of the year. I am sure I’ll read some excellent books in the next 7 weeks, but not many of them will be published this year – I’m planning to read a lot from my own shelves instead.

      1. Claire says:

        In that case my list will definitely be made up of books that are all on yours! I haven’t read any new books this year really other than the prize nominees and those that disappointed you. New books don’t interest me so much on their own merit and only if I have read good things/they are written by a favourite author. I have too many books on my shelves or older books that I want to read to pay much attention to something that has no reputation as yet (although the freshness and lack of preconceptions is appealing).

        1. Jackie says:

          Claire, I have read very few books without knowing much about them – most of the books on this list have been brought to my attention by other bloggers/book awards, but the few that haven’t had a great premise and publishers that understood my taste in books. I like to keep a good balance of old and new on my site – I rely on you to find all those great forgotten old books for me to read.

          1. Claire says:

            And I rely on you for the new! I am attempting to incorporate a balance between new and old in my reading and think that I will be more likely to attempt new books based just on premise than hearsay in the future – one of the great things about the blogging experience is that it encourages me to try new books!

  2. Ti says:

    After viewing your list I can see that I have a few more titles to add to my pile. I have such a hard time picking my own faves. My faves will be books that I read in 2009 but they may not have been published this year. I often read older books for book group. I have to sit down and figure it all out but in the mean time I am going to make a note on some of the ones you mentioned here. My book club will be picking their books for the year in January and I need to narrow my choices down.

    1. Jackie says:

      Ti, I’ve read a lot of older books too – many of them better than the ones on this list, but I thought it was good to get the list up early, so people can point out what I’m missing! Perhaps I can sneak a few extra ones onto the list at the end of the year!

  3. Joanna says:

    You’re the first of ‘best of 2009’ list I see!! I added a few books to my wishlist, thanks! :-)

    1. Jackie says:

      Joanna, I’ve seen a few ‘best of 2009’ lists, so I thought I’d add mine. I hope you like the ones you’ve added to your wishlist!

  4. Simon S says:

    It does freak me out that there are only seven weeks left of this year. In fact I dont like to think about it so I will stop.

    I am a bit random as I include any book each year I have read in my best of which I tend to post about on the very last day of the year as you never know what you might read in the next 24 hours or week.

    I have the Chimamanda book and Legend of a Suicide to read soon. I thought The Wilderness was quite good too, interesting list!

    1. Jackie says:

      Simon, I know – I was shocked to discover that there were only 7 weeks left. I haven’t even thought about Christmas shopping yet!

      I’ll have a list in the same style as yours up at the end of the year, but I thought I’d see if there were any recent releases that had passed me by.

      I hope that you get round to reading Legend of a Suicide – I thought it was a very clever book.

  5. Priscilla says:

    I haven’t been completely blown away by anything this year, honestly. I liked Lauren Groff’s Delicate Edible Birds (stories, so that might not be to your taste, but it’s well done) and Jedediah Barry’s Manual of Detection. But I also liked The Little Stranger (although not as much as I liked Fingersmith) and Robert Goolrick’s A Reliable Wife.

    I’ve added several new books to my TBR list based on your list, though! I should get to them all sometime in 2012! ;)

    1. Jackie says:

      Priscilla, I wasn’t a fan of Delicate Edible Birds, but I think that was because I listened to a poor audio production (and the fact I’m not a fan of short stories doesn’t help!) I saw Manual of Detection mentioned last week – it does sound good, but I’ll probably get to that sometime in 2012!

  6. Other than a few of the books on the Booker longlist, I don’t think I’ve actually read any books published in 2009.

    My favourites have been Summertime, and How To Paint A Dead Man. I will be reading The Glass Room soon, so hopefully I’ll add that to the list.

    1. Jackie says:

      anothercookiecrumbles, I’m sure you’ll love The Glass Room. The Booker list has been a great source of books this year!

  7. Sandy says:

    I am terrible about reading “new” books. I am always way behind. Anyway, I have added a good deal of these to my Wish List. Then, maybe in the next five years, I will get to them! I actually officially started a wish list on Amazon, so I can refer to it when my family asks for my Christmas list!

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, Don’t worry about not reading new books – there are so many great books out there that it doesn’t really matter when they are published – I just have a new book addiction!

  8. Annabel says:

    Can I nominate The Juggler by Sebastian Beaumont. It’s a novel about a man’s mid-life crisis. But it is also edgy and darkly surreal and pushes all your psychological buttons – guilt, paranoia, seeking refuge and finding yourself. Wonderful.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, I haven’t heard of The Juggler – I’ve added it to my wishlist!

  9. Wow! You’re as early as the newspapers! I’m still hoping to read another amazing book or two before Dec. 31st. :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, I actually did a similar post back in June, so am way ahead of them! I don’t think I’ll read many books published in 2009 before the end of the year, so thought I’d get this post out now. Any amazing books I do happen to read will get a mention in my best reads of 2009.

  10. Meghan says:

    I didn’t actually think of compiling my own best books published in 2009, but it’s a good idea, I’ve read lots of new releases! Of yours, I really enjoyed The Wilderness and The Help, and I liked Stone’s Fall, so I should check out the rest of your list. =)

    1. Jackie says:

      Meghan, I look forward to seeing what makes it on to your list and hope you enjoy any of the other books you read from mine!

  11. She says:

    Ooo, I really like the cover of The Thing Around Your Neck.

    1. Jackie says:

      She, It is very pretty isn’t it?!

  12. Amy says:

    I have yet to read most of your 2009 favorites but more than half of them are on my TBR list!

    I still need to go over what I read this year and think what my favorites were but a couple that stand out are America America by Ethan Canin, Blindness by Jose Saramago and Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    This is a wonderful list!

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, Blindness is one of my all time favourites, but I haven’t heard of Ethan Canin – I’ll have to go and look him up – thanks for the recommendation!

  13. Steph says:

    My favorite 2009 read is definitely Generation A by Douglas Coupland. I’ve read some other really good books that were published this year, as well as some amazing books that are older, but that’s the one book published this year that was heads and shoulders above the rest. Then again, I haven’t read the new Jasper Fforde yet (but I guess that’s technically a 2010 read!)….

    You have a bunch on your list that I want to get to… and of course I am hoping I will be able to finish 2666 before we ring in the new year! ;)

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, The new Jasper FForde doesn’t count – you’ll have to save that for another few months! I’ll have to try to get hold of Generation A at some point, but I doubt I’ll be able to fit it in before the end of the year. Good luck with 2666!

  14. Karen says:

    I was only thinking over the weekend that it was almost time to write this list for myself!! Your list has reminded me that I still have The Wildnerness waiting to be read in my pile somewhere… One of my favourite books for this year would have to be The Sweetness at the Bottom of The Pie – really looking forward to the sequel.

    1. Jackie says:

      Karen, I forgot about Sweetness – I have heard so many people rave about that book. I am on the look out for it, but so ar have been unsuccessful – hopefully I’ll find a copy soon.

  15. Beth F says:

    I have a few of these on my wish list or I already own them. I haven’t really thought about my favorites of the year yet.

    1. Jackie says:

      Beth, I hope that you enjoy them!

  16. wow…such eclectic taste in books–brava! i tend to read non-fiction (humor and memoirs) and contemporary fiction…but you may have inspired me with your list! :)

    i read and loved ‘the help’…glad to see it made your list.

    1. Jackie says:

      nat, I do have quite an eclectic taste in books – I’ll read anything that is well written. I don’t read much non-fiction/memoirs – I should try to read more, so perhaps I’ll see what makes your top 10 and add it to the list for next year!

  17. diane says:

    Thanks to you Jackie, so many of these you mentioned made it to my TBR or Wish List. My Top 2 favorite books of 2009 so far are #1-The Help, and #2 – Cutting for Stone……Those 2 I’m sure of at this point.

    1. Jackie says:

      diane, from what I’ve heard I am sure Cutting for Stone would make my list. It is such a shame that I’m not going to read it this year. I look forward to finding out what makes it into the rest of your list.

  18. Samantha says:

    Great list. A few here in my top 10 too! I want to get to Legend of a Suicide and The Help before year’s end and am intrigued by the Iain Pears now as well.

    I am nearly finished Cutting For Stone and it will definitely be in my top 10 fiction reads – but again I warn about the graphic medical proceedures. But it is such a BIG novel in every sense of the word – big cast, big on history and Ethiopia, big on medicine and its history, involving, etc etc etc!

    1. Jackie says:

      Samantha, I don’t mind graphic medical proceedures, so I think I’ll be OK. I am almost tempted to go and buy it now…

  19. Verity says:

    This is an interesting list – I’ve been following your blog for some of the year so it is good to see which out of all of your reviews are the “best”. I’ve read very few on that list, but I would love to read some of the Booker shortlist ones. I have yet to decide what my top reads of the year are – I’ve read so many books this year that it may be a very long list!

    1. Jackie says:

      Verity, The Booker list provided some really good books this year – I am sure that you will enjoy them. I look forward to seeing which books top your list – the idea is to just include only the very best – so some hard pruning will need dong to your list!! Good luck!

      1. Verity says:

        Assuming 5% of the books one reads are really good (random figure) if you’ve read, as I have 570 books already this year (so likely to hit 600 by the end of the year), then that is still nearly 30 books in a list… You can’t prune that list down to be the same size as the list of someone who has read about 100 books (or less)!

        1. Jackie says:

          Verity, I am amazed by the number of books you’ve read!
          I still think you can narrow down the very best. I’ve read 1000s of books in my life, but could still give you a top 10/top 50 etc.

          I don’t mind seeing a list of 30 though – I’d be interested to see what was in it!

  20. Jenners says:

    Don’t you hate it when the books you were looking forward to just didn’t thrill you like you had hoped? I was disappointed in “Her Fearful Symmetry” too. Oh well. I know I added the “Stone’s Fall” to my wish list already. And I have “The Help” waiting to be read. This is a great idea for an end of the year post … I need all the ideas I can get right now.

    Here’s hoping you can find another 5 star book before the end of the year!

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, I hope that you enjoy Stone’s Fall. I really hope that I find another 5 star book before the end of the year, but because I don’t plan on reading many 2009 books I thought I’d write this post now – just in case someone suggests a book that I need to get hold of!

  21. Stephanie says:

    Great list! The only book I’ve read off of it is The Help, which will definitely make it onto my list as well. I haven’t compiled my list, but two books that will definitely be on it that spring to my mind immediately are The Knife of Never Letting Go (which I think I remember you weren’t a fan of) and My Sister, My Love, by Joyce Carol Oates.

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, You’re right – I didn’t enjoy Knife of Never Letting Go, but I do have some Joyce Carol Oates in my TBR pile. I haven’t read any of her books yet, but I really need to correct that soon!

  22. Rebecca Reid says:

    I don’t think I’ve read any books written this year! LOL. I’m really looking forward to the Adichie though.

    1. Jackie says:

      Rebecca, Now I see why you were struggling with the 09 challenge! I hope you enjoy the Adichie!

      1. Rebecca Reid says:

        The 9 for 09 challenge isn’t for books published in 09 but rather for 9 books I chose from my TBR that I wanted to read in 09.

        1. Jackie says:

          Rebecca, Sorry – I understand now! I have really struggled with the TBR challenge, which sounds very similar. I’m not sure I’m going to complete it, which is strange as I thought it would be the easiest!

  23. Ha! It’s good to know The Housekeeper and the Professor ended up in your 2009 fav list, because it is waiting on my shelf (to be read before Jan. 25 because of the Japanese Literature Book Group). OK, so is Niffenegger… ;)

    I can’t really make up my mind yet about my top books of the year, but I think The Grapes of Wrath, In Cold Blood and Be With You are going to end up on the list!

    1. Jackie says:

      Gnoe, Unfortunately I haven’t got round to The Housekeeper and The Professor yet, but I am sure it will end up on my list.

      I haven’t read any of your favourites, but I think that I would enjoy them – I’ll have to try to get to them in 2010!

  24. lilly says:

    Great list and completely different from mine. How fun!!! but I think it’s going to be difficult for Jacqueline to compile a definitive list if it continues this way.
    I now have to go and look for all these books so I can read them (most likely in 2010 though).

    1. Jackie says:

      Lilly, I look forward to seeing the weekly geek list – I have a feeling that The Help will end up winning, but I will be interested to see what else makes the list.

  25. Care says:

    Wow – I am impressed how many you have! You are amazing.

  26. pussreboots says:

    None of the books on my list are literary fiction. I went with favorites more than best.

    1. Jackie says:

      pussreboots, The literary fiction ones were my favourites. Stone’s Fall is amazingly clever – I loved the twists and turns in it.

  27. Wendy says:

    The Help made my top ten as well. There are several books you’ve listed which I haven’t read but are on my TBR pile :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Wendy, Our taste in books is so similar that I will make an effort to track down most of the books on your list. I hope that I like them as much as you.

  28. susan says:

    Adichie is on my list. Wish I had gotten to it by now. (sigh)

    1. Jackie says:

      Susan, There is still plenty of time. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

  29. I see wonderful books here. I will check out the ones I have not read.

    Weekly Geeks: Top Books of 2009

  30. Megan T. says:

    Great list, thanks. Lots of books I hadn’t heard of here, and a few that were on my radar screen but needed a little push to make it to the top of my TBR list. I’m especially eager to read Stone’s Fall now, thanks for the recommendation.


  1. Weekly Geeks v9.43: Top 10 Books in 2009 | Literary Escapism
  2. Books of 2009… A Teaser « Savidge Reads
  3. My favourite reads 2009 – Farm Lane Books Blog
  4. Cutting for Stone – Abraham Verghese – Farm Lane Books Blog
  5. The Waverton Good Read Award – Farm Lane Books Blog
  6. The Best Books of 2010 – Farm Lane Books Blog

Leave a Reply