Skip to main content

The Best of the Best Books of 2009

PUBLISHED: December 23, 2009

’Tis the season for lists. The past weeks have given us lists extolling the best art vinyl of 2009, the year’s best Halloween costumes, as well as a techie compilation of pop culture’s finest moments. Although there are, at last count, only two freestanding book reviews in this fair country, we do have a wealth of best-book lists. Instead of adding to the riches, I have marshaled my moderate Excel skills for the cause of compiling a meta-list: The Best of the Best Books of 2009. In the interest of not overly taxing my Excel skills, I have limited the list to fiction.

Methodological note: This list is highly unscientific. Books receive one point each time they appear on best books lists published by the editors of the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Slate, The Economist, Los Angeles Times, Publisher’s Weekly, or Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.

6 points:
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel

4 points:
A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore
The Anthologist, by Nicholson Baker
Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, by Geoff Dyer
Too Much Happiness, by Alice Munro

3 points:
Chronic City, by Jonathan Lethem
The Financial Lives of the Poets, by Jess Walter
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, by Daniyal Mueenuddin

2 points:
A Short History of Women, by Kate Walbert
American Rust, by Philipp Meyer
Asterios Polyp, by David Mazzucchelli
Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, by Maile Meloy
The Children’s Book, by A.S. Byatt
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, by Lydia Davis
The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard, by J.G. Ballard
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, by Wells Tower
The Glass Room, by Simon Mawer
Homer & Langley, by E.L. Doctorow
Inherent Vice, by Thomas Pynchon
Lark & Termite, by Jayne Anne Phillips
Love and Summer, by William Trevor
The Museum of Innocence, by Orhan Pamuk

1 point:
2666, by Roberto Bolaño
Amigoland, by Oscar Casares
The Angel’s Game, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Await Your Reply, by Dan Chaon
Beat the Reaper, by Josh Bazell
Big Machine, by Victor LaValle
Border Songs, by Jim Lynch
Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
The City & The City, by China Mieville
The Cradle, by Patrick Somerville
Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese
Everything Matters!, by Ron Currie Jr.
Exiles in the Garden, by Ward Just
The Four Corners of the Sky, by Michael Malone
Half Broke Horses, by Jeannette Walls
How It Ended, by Jay McInerney
I Am Not Sidney Poitier, by Percival Everett
It’s Beginning to Hurt, by James Lasdun
The Kindly Ones, by Jonathan Littell
Little Bee, by Chris Cleave
Little Bird of Heaven, by Joyce Carol Oates
The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters
Love in Infant Monkeys, by Lydia Millet
My Father’s Tears and Other Stories, by John Updike
Once the Shore, by Paul Yoon
The Original of Laura, by Vladimir Nabokov
The Scarecrow, by Michael Connelly
The Signal, by Ron Carlson
The Sky Below, by Stacey D’Erasmo
Smash Cut, by Sandra Brown
South of Broad, by Pat Conroy
Sunnyside, by Glen David Gold
Swimming, by Nicola Keegan
That Old Cape Magic, by Richard Russo
The Stalin Epigram, by Robert Littell
The Thing Around Your Neck, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Wild Things, by Dave Eggers
The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Winter Vault, by Anne Michaels
The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood
This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper
Twisted Tree, by Kent Meyers
Ultimatum, by Matthew Glass
Under the Dome, by Stephen King
Your Face Tomorrow, by Javier Marías


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Maud's picture
Maud · 14 years ago
Dear Micheal, Great to see what you like to read and hope your great novel is published soon. Let me know. Best, Maud

Recommended Reading