Thursday, 31 December 2009

Books for 2009

Well, it's that time of year and everyone seems to be doing it so here's the run-down of the books I've read this year. In one way it's been a good reading year for me, numerically anyway. I've read 76 books and that's the most I've managed since I started keeping a record I think. And I did read an awful lot of good books this year. 'Good' and even 'very good'. But the number I would call absolutely 'wonderful' were not that many. I suppose that's just the way it goes... wonderful books are, after all, a bit rare and I am in no way complaining. I enjoyed most of my reads this year and there were very few actual disappointments.

Anyway, this is what I read from 1st. January to date:

1.. City of Illusions - Ursula K. le Guin
2.. Bitten - Kelley Armstrong
3.. In the Woods - Tana French
4.. The Jewel of Seven Stars - Bram Stoker
5.. Runemarks - Joanne Harris
6.. Moon Called - Patricia Briggs
7.. The Valley of Secrets - Charmian Hussey
8.. The Reaper - Peter Lovesey
9.. Remember Me? - Sophie Kinsella
10.. Blood Bound - Patricia Briggs
11.. Larklight - Philip Reeve
12.. A Fatal Inversion - Barbara Vine
13.. Truckers - Terry Pratchett
14.. Crossed Wires - Rosy Thornton
15.. The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
16.. Here, There be Dragons - James A. Owens
17.. The Sedgemoor Strangler - Peter Lovesey
18.. Morrigan's Cross - Nora Roberts
19.. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
20.. Diggers - Terry Pratchett
21.. The Good Thief - Hannah Tinti
22.. Touchstone - Laurie R. King
23.. Solomon Time - Will Randall
24.. The Circle - Peter Lovesey
25.. Daughter of the Blood - Anne Bishop
26.. Over Sea, Under Stone - Susan Cooper
27.. Wings - Terry Pratchett
28.. Last Rituals - Yrsa Sigurdardottir
29.. The Corinthian - Georgette Heyer
30.. Infernal Devices - Philip Reeve
31.. Snow Blind - P.J. Tracy
32.. Henrietta's War - Joyce Dennys
33.. New Moon - Stephanie Meyer
34.. Grey Souls - Philippe Claudel
35.. The Dark is Rising - Susan Cooper
36.. Trains and Buttered Toast - John Betjeman
37.. The Accidental Sorcerer - K.E. Mills
38.. Father Brown - G.K. Chesterton
39.. The Shape of Water - Andrea Camilleri
40.. The Stolen Child - Keith Donohue
41.. Skulduggery Pleasant - Derek Landy
42.. The Terrcotta Dog - Andrea Camilleri
43.. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
44.. The Rubadub Mystery - Enid Blyton
45.. Birds, Beasts & Relatives - Gerald Durrell
46.. The Rat-A-Tat Mystery - Enid Blyton
47.. We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson
48.. Endless Night - Agatha Christie
49.. On Hitler's Mountain - Irmgard Hunt
50.. Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror - Chris Priestly
51.. Inspector Ghote's First Case - H.R.F. Keating
52.. The Cruellest Journey - Kira Salak
53.. The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
54.. A Christmas Journey - Anne Perry
55.. Good Behaviour - Molly Keane
56.. The Man in the Picture - Susan Hill
57.. The Ring O' Bells Mystery - Enid Blyton
58.. The Alchemyst - Michael Scott
59.. Relics - Pip Vaughan-Hughes
60.. The Coffin Trail - Martin Edwards
61.. Tales of Terror from the Black Ship - Chris Priestley
62.. Howards End is on the Landing - Susan Hill
63.. In the Company of Cheerful Ladies - A. McCall Smith
64.. Blue Shoes and Happiness - A. McCall Smith
65.. No Such Thing as Dragons - Philip Reeve
66.. Not So Quiet - Helen Zenna Smith
67.. The Snack Thief - Andrea Camilleri
68.. The Cruellest Month - Louise Penny
69.. A Gathering Light - Jennifer Donnelly
70.. The Sunday Philosophy Club - A. McCall Smith
71.. The Cipher Garden - Martin Edwards
72.. The Sea of Trolls - Nancy Farmer
73.. A Christmas Guest - Anne Perry
74.. Night Watch - Terry Pratchett
75.. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane - Kate Dicamillo
76.. The Land of Silver Apples - Nancy Farmer

I haven't quite finished the last book but expect to today.

As usual with me it's rather an eclectic mix of fantasy, horror, crime, YA, novels, and a very little non-fiction (though not nearly enough.)

I went through and picked out my favourites and ended up with 15. Which are:

1.In the Woods by Tana French - terrifically atmospheric crime yarn.
2.The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - beautifully written YA horror.
3.The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - scary but brilliant dystopian tale.
4.Touchstone by Laurie R. King - historical crime, complicated and clever.
5.Infernal Devices by Philip Reeve - book 3 of his fantastic Mortal Engines series.
6.Grey Souls by Phillipe Claudel - WW1 story, beautifully written.
7.The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue - changeling fantasy.
8.The Secret History by Donna Tartt - psychological type crime yarn but much more than that.
9.Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley - YA horror along the lines of M.R. James.
10.The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield - gothic yarn that is creepy, atmospheric and very nicely written.
11.The Coffin Trail by Martin Edwards - first of a crime series set in the Lake District. Excellent.
12.Tales of Terror from the Black Ship by Chris Priestley - most ghostly stories from this author.
13.Not So Quiet by Helen Zenna Smith - what life was like for the female ambulance drivers in WW1. Everyone should read it.
14.A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly - coming of age story set in the forests of New York state in the early 1900s.
15.Night Watch by Terry Pratchett - Sam Vimes triumphs again!

If I absolutely had to pick a favourite from those 15 it would be:

A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly. This was one book I really did *love* this year. Beautifully written with a main character, Mattie Gokey, who was engaging, loyal and intelligent. A wonderful read.

Non-fiction favourite - a tie:

On Hitler's Mountain by Irmgard Hunt
Howard's End is on the Landing by Susan Hill

I loved both of those too.

Favourite new author:

Chris Priestley.
Closely followed by Nancy Farmer and Martin Edwards.

Biggest disappointment:

There weren't many to be honest but this one really did not live up to my expectations:

Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts

So that's it. Another reading year has come and gone and I'm happy with what I read. I feel like I want to do something a bit different next year but I'm not sure what. Perhaps read a few less books but concentrate more on what I'm reading. I especially would like to read a few more classics, some Victorian 'gothic' style lit perhaps, get into the crime genre a bit more. And then there's my massive tbr pile...

HAPPY NEW YEAR to one and all!


DesLily said...

wow two of my favs made it on your list too! The 13th Tale and Touchstone!! (I need to reread Touchstone soon)

gads I neglected to put Nancy Farmer on the new authors list! shame on me...

I hope you and Peter have a fabulous 2010 Cath!

Anonymous said...

Cath, thanks for sharing your reading life with us. I do enjoy your blog so much. You had a good top 15 list I think, several I had read and liked very much.

I hope that your and your family have a lovely New Year. I am taking my life in a bit of a different direction for 2010 and am coming back to blogging. Stop by and see me sometime. Take care and happy reading!

Danielle said...

I have the Priestley book checked out from the library still and plan on reading it! And there are several overlaps of favorites (I also loved In the Woods, the Handmaid's Tale and A Gathering Light! Still must read Donna Tartt though! Hope you have a wonderful 2010!

verity said...

Ive just got a copy of Not So Quiet and am looking forward to kicking off my NY reading with it. Happy New Year!

Ana S. said...

Love your list! I need to read Tana French, and also more Laurie R. King! Also, must make sure I get to A Gathering Light in January. Happy New Year, Cath!

Cath said...

Pat: yeah, two of your favs made it onto my 2009 list. They were terrific reads. It's funny, I didn't list any of Nancy Farmer's books as a 'best read' but I was so pleased with the series as a whole - the two I've read anyway.

Thanks, Pat. And the same to you.

Kay: I'm so delighted that you'll be back blogging in 2010... I hoped for it during 2009 and clearly 'someone' was listening.

And thank you for your kind words. I hope 2010 is a good one for you and your family.

Danielle: oh yes, do read the Chris Priestley book - it's a quick read if that helps. :-) And The Secret History is well worth the effort. Happy New Year!

Verity: I'm so pleased you found Not So Quiet at last. I didn't realise my chance find in a charity shop was so lucky. Hope you enjoy it. Happy New Year to you too.

Nymeth: the Tana French is well worth seeking out... crime with a slightly creepy element. And yes... more Laurie King is always worth it. I love the way in which she treats her readers as intelligent people. Good writing and authentic settings. Happy New Year to you too.

Kailana said...

Looks like you had a great reading year! Hope 2010 is a great reading year, too. :)

Susan said...

I love this post! You and I read many of the same books, and I'm going to take your recommendations seriously - on my TBR list they go!!! I read two more than you, also one of my highest totals ever, if not the highest. I'm really pleased, even if I did fall flat from my goal of 100 for the year. Books that I love, truly love, are hard to find, even if I enjoy so many. So if you love A Gathering of The Light, I'll take a look for it! and of course, Martin Edwards :-D
Happy New Year to you and Peter, Cath!

Cath said...

Kailana: yeah, it was a pretty good reading year and I'm hoping for an even better one this year, perhaps paying a bit more attention to which books I choose.

Susan: I'm going to make a note of some of your favs too, as we seem to have quite similar taste in books. I want to try Middlemarch this year and some other classics too.

I think, with your busy life, that 78 books is excellent. I don't think I would ever try for 100 as I don't think I can physically read that many - 80 would probably be my limit. It would be nice to be a faster reader but it's not going to happen. :-)

You might find A Northern Light in the library. I was really surprised to find it so easily in mine. I think you will love Mattie too.

Eni said...

Your placement of Enid Blyton's Tat-a-Tat Mystery adventure at no.47 is exhilarating, after all she made it into the Top 10 bestsellers last decade. Well, I am also informing you that I have published a book on Enid Blyton, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (,
Stephen Isabirye