2009 in books, part one

Well, I ended 2009 having read 233 books, including re-reads. Not bad, considering I spent four months in the UK and didn’t have many books over there! Here are a few highlights from the year.

Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones: (Original reaction {HERE}.) It’s hard to believe now that it’s just been a year since I first read this book. Deep Secret has crept its way into my heart, where it will hopefully remain forever. This is a little more adult, complex, and deep than most of her other books, but it is just as wonderful. There are lovely bits of humor and lovely characters.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova: (Original reaction {HERE}.) I included this book on this list for somewhat different reasons than most of them. I didn’t whole-heartedly love it, but it remained with me. I’ve read some raving reviews and some highly critical reviews. I fall somewhere in the middle. Nonetheless, I can’t quite get it out of my head.

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare: I was in a Shakespeare course in London, so I had the chance to revisit this play. The Nigel Hawthorne/Ben Kingsley/Toby Stephens film version has long been a favorite of mine, but the play itself is even better! (I also saw a lovely production while in London, which certainly helped.) One of my favorite Shakespeare plays.

King Lear by William Shakespeare: I had never read this play before the afore-mentioned Shakespeare course and I was absolutely blown away by it. Hamlet remains my favorite Shakespeare play (and, basically, favorite play ever) but King Lear is right behind it. Again, this was helped by seeing a great production in London (at the Young Vic). Still, the play itself is so beautiful and tragic. I love Cordelia’s speech and character, and Lear himself is so tragically flawed.

Knife* by R.J. Anderson: In general I like the idea of fairies while really resenting their cutesy image (yes, Tinkerbell, I’m talking about you). So Anderson’s debut book, which keeps the tiny size of fairies while making them much more complicated and interesting had that going for it from the start. In addition, it managed to make the faery society both sympathetic and deeply flawed. Very well done!

A Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare: As with the other Shakespeare, this was from my course in London. I’d never read it before, only the Lamb’s Tales summary, which is hardly the same thing. A beautiful story of loss, redemption, and forgiveness, this goes in my top four. Again, it was helped by seeing a splendid production, but the play itself is wonderful and well worth a read.

Rider on a White Horse by Rosemary Sutcliff: There’s going to be quite a bit of Sutcliff on the rest of this list. Rider on a White Horse was brand-new to me and oh-so-good. Set during the English Civil War, it followed General Thomas Fairfax, of the Parliamentary forces, and his wife Anne. While I actually tend to be more on the Royalist side myself, this was a nuanced and balanced account and both Thomas and Anne Fairfax emerged as moderate and extremely sympathetic characters.

Knight’s Fee by Rosemary Sutcliff: A young boy, Randal, is won in a chess game and given to a knight who raises him with his own grandson. Set against the backdrop of the struggle after William the Conqueror’s death, Knight’s Fee is an evocative, bitter-sweet, and ultimately rewarding story.

Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff: When Phaedrus the Gladiator is convinced to pose as Midir, the blinded Lord of the Dalriadain, he is caught up in a tangled web of political maneuvering and deceit. In the end he discovers his place and that perhaps he himself is truly a leader of what has become his people. Very beautifully written.

Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore: I tried to read this once years ago and couldn’t make it because the language was too hard. Which is odd, because I found it a very easy and entertaining read! John Ridd’s voice is a marvel–an Exmoor (Devon and Somerset) farmer overlaid with a classical education, with a good helping of wry self-awareness. While Lorna is a bit of a damsel in distress, I really enjoyed this one.

* It’s called something else I can never remember here, but I bought my copy in the UK and I prefer Knife as a title.

Part 2 soon (hopefully tomorrow).

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6 Comments

Filed under bookish posts, reviews

6 responses to “2009 in books, part one

  1. I’m so jealous, I ended at 105

    • Maureen E

      Well, I think I’ve said this before: I read really fast. And I’m a full-time student, but I only work part time, am unmarried, and have no children.

      (I say that, but watch, I’ll manage to defeat every law of nature and end up working, married, with three children, and reading up a storm.)

  2. I have to give it to “A Winter’s Tale.” That is an incredibly underrated Shakesperian work.

  3. TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY THREE.

    I have trouble getting past that number.

    sorry this was a totally useless comment

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