Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Favourite Reads of 2009: Janet's Picks. . .

Top ten lists are everywhere right now which is prompting me to make my own. Best of the decade is beyond me, I can barely remember last week, but I can certainly remember my favourite reads of 2009.

I had two favourite picture books this year, Gone With the Wand by Margie Palatini and Brian Ajhar, and Amiri and Odette by Walter Dean Myers and Javaka Steptoe. It is a great time for teen reads which made it hard to pick just a few, but Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, Here Lies Arthur by Phillip Reeve and Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson (and a galley for the upcoming How to Make a Bird by Martine Murray) are all well worth your time. Each one reads like a perfect adult novel with teenage characters.
And I took time to read some wonderful adult books as well. I loved An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett, Me Cheeta (by Cheeta – it’s an autobiography), and Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower.

Gone With the Wand by Margie Palatini, illustrated by Brian Ajhar
I’m a sucker for puns of all kinds and this book is full of them, both visual and verbal, along with an endearingly hapless fairy godmother.

Amiri and Odette by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe
Such a dark retelling of Swan Lake, set in a violent urban environment. The images are painted onto concrete with gives them a very gritty texture. This book isn’t so much a traditional picture book as it is an illustrated poetry book for older readers.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The second book in this irresistible trilogy, fresh and frightening at the same time.

Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve
I loved this take on Arthurian legends with a violent and vengeful Arthur, hated by Guinevere. History from the point of view of the vanquished.

Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson
Hilarious and tender story of a young man who is a radical environmentalist and a Marxist; he becomes completely undone by love.

How to Make a Bird by Martine Murray
This book is coming up this summer, and I was utterly swept away by this ethereal and dreamlike story. It’s a heartstopper.

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower
There aren’t enough short stories in the world (especially with the demise of the New Yorker fiction issue). This book is full of perfectly constructed snapshots that let you see the full picture of the tragedy in lives that look so ordinary from the outside.

Me Cheeta
This book found it’s way on to the Booker longlist, then into my heart. A vaguely homoerotic love letter from Cheeta to Johnny Weismuller, it’s full of hilarious Hollywood “gossip”. The voice is simultaneously pompous (Cheeta complains about being overlooked for an Oscar) and touchingly innocent. Very funny, very tender.

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
When the Queen of England checks out a book from her local bookmobile her world is changed as she becomes an avid reader. This book perfectly defines what it is to read voraciously, and how it changes our lives.

Because I have two weeks off at Christmas my stack of books to take to the west coast is growing by the moment – Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery, translated by Alison Anderson, So Brave, Young and Handsome by Leif Enger, Homer & Langley by E.L . Doctorow, Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving and a book about Bangkok whose title I can no longer remember but am excited to read, along with some very appealing young adult ARCs. I wish you all a great holiday full of books that make you happy.

1 comment:

margie palatini said...

Thanks so much for the nice words on GWTW!
Yes, I'm 'punny' --as a young age -- I was frightened by Bennett Cerf :)

Margie Palatini