Some of the books I enjoyed reading this year…
This is, as with most things to do with this blog, selective and arbitrary. Given that we are in the second week of the last month of the last year of the decade known as the noughties, some stock taking is necessary. But I am terrible at taking stick, awful at anthologizing, because I feel guilty about leaving things out.Here, in no particular order, is a list of (some of the books) I have really enjoyed reading in 2009. I have confined myself to books published in 2009; so the dozens that I have much admired this year but were published previously have not been mentioned. The list is subject to change, and it probably will.
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin: Spare, elegant, and immensely powerful, this novel about immigration and the meaning of belonging is, for my money, the best book yet in Toibin’s glittering career.
The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk: Again, the best in the career of a writer who picked up the Nobel in 2006 without this being in his oeuvre. It’s a novel about the big themes in life, but, most of all, it is a novel about love: between two people, and for one city – Istanbul.
My Father’s Tears and Other Stories by John Updike: This posthumously published collection doesn’t show the master at his best, but even in decline, Updike is rather better than most prose writers. We’ll miss those euphonies so much…:
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie: Hugely ambitious, supremely lyrical, and suffused with empathy and poignancy, a terrific novel by a writer at the top of her game.
Summertime by JM Coetzee: The third volume in the trilogy of what his publishers call ‘fictionalised memoirs’, this is haunting, austere and a delightful hallway of mirrors of a book.
Everyday Drinking: The Distilled Kingsley Amis: Side-splittingly funny, immensely knowledgeable, this is the lowdown – the real deal – from the writer for whom booze only second in his list of priorities after literature.
Open by Andre Agassi: Candid and controversial and offers a rare insight into the mind of one of the legendary tennis players of our times. This must be one of the best sporting autobiographies I have ever read.
PS: I am keenly awaiting the new Philip Roth, the new Alice Munro and the new Upamanyu Chatterjee. All to be read before the year is out.
What did you enjoy in 2009?