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Our Favorite Books of 2009

PUBLISHED: January 1, 2010

It’s the end of the year, so we at VQR were recently discussing what books published in 2009 were our favorites. Of course, we couldn’t agree. So we all wrote down our own lists—and offer them (with links) here. We hope that you will enjoy them, and perhaps contribute your own thoughts on what books from this year you held in the highest esteem.

Megan Fishmann, Assistant Editor

  1. Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, by Wells Tower (stories)
  2. Big Machine, by Victor LaValle (novel)
  3. American Salvage, by Bonnie Jo Campbell (stories)
  4. The Magicians, by Lev Grossman (novel)
  5. Mathilda Savitch, by Victor Lodato (novel)

Aja Gabel, Fall 2009 Intern

  1. Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing, by Lydia Peelle (stories)
  2. Speak Low, by Carl Phillips (poetry)
  3. What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, by Laura van den Berg (stories)
  4. The Dance Most of All, Jack Gilbert (poetry)

Ted Genoways, Editor-in-Chief

This is a list of the best books by people who have never been published in VQR but who I hope will now that they’ve seen I really like their work. Therefore, this list excludes some obviously great books like Blake Bailey’s bio of Cheever, novels by Dan Chaon and Laleh Khadivi, and D.A. Powell’s poetry collection, Chronic. (And, yes, that’s my way of secretly slipping additional titles onto my list).

  1. American Rust, by Philipp Meyer (novel)
  2. In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, by Daniyal Mueenuddin (stories)
  3. Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers (nonfiction)
  4. Once the Shore, by Paul Yoon (stories)
  5. The Vagrants, by Yiyun Li (novel)

Eleanor Henderson, Fiction Editor

  1. Amateur Barbarians, by Robert Cohen (novel)
  2. The Walking People, by Mary Beth Keane (novel)
  3. A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore (novel)

Waldo Jaquith, Web Developer/ Web Editor

In the past year, I haven’t read five books published in 2009. In fact, I’ve only just started reading the first 2009 book that I’ve read all year. So, instead, here are my five favorite New Yorker articles of the year.

  1. Raffi Khatchadourian’s “The Taste Makers” (November 23)
  2. Ian Frazier’s “Travels in Siberia” (August 3)
  3. James B. Stewart’s “Eight Days” (September 21)
  4. Elizabeth Kolbert “The Sixth Extinction?” (May 25)
  5. Atul Gawande’s “The Cost Conundrum” (June 1)

Sheila McMillen, Associate Editor/ Circulation Manager

  1. Summertime, by J.M. Coetzee (novel)
  2. Jeff in Venice, Death in Varnasi, by Geoff Dyers (novel)
  3. How I Became a Famous Novelist, by Steve Hely (novel)
  4. The Age of Wonder, by Richard Holms (nonfiction)
  5. The Lost City of Z, by David Grann (nonfiction)


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