As promised, I'm taking my turn and creating my own Best Books of 2009 list. This doesn't include books I'm not finished with. If it did, there would probably be some that would make this list. But I don't think that's fair to the books I did finish. :) This also doesn't include books I've re-read this year. I think it goes without saying that if I'm re-reading something it would probably end up on a list of this type.
Most of these are books I've read earlier in the year. That isn't to say that the ones I've read recently aren't great, but more that I've noticed that my enthusiasm for some books lessens over time. A book I raved about when I first finished it seems, a few months later, to pale in comparison to something else I've read. I think sometimes I like to digest my feelings on a book for a period of time.
These aren't necessarily the greatest literature out there you can buy. Rather, these are the books that, when looking over all I've read this year, stand out as making an impression on me. I enjoyed all of these, although I certainly enjoyed some more than others. But all of these I have thought about multiple times since completing them. So here are my top 20 of 2009 (in alphabetical order).
Austenland: A Novel by Shannon Hale - I'll admit that this was my first Shannon Hale book. I'd heard so many wonderful things about all her books for years, but I'm ashamed to say I hadn't picked one up yet. So this one happened to call out at me from the library shelf and the rest is history. I loved this! All you want in a cute light romance with tons of laughter and of course a lot of great things for those of us who are addicted to Jane Austen.
Babymouse #10: The Musical by Matt & Jennifer Holm - I've never met a Babymouse I didn't like, and they seem to keep getting better as we go along the series. But this one I can say is probably one of my all time favorites, even over my other favorite Dragonslayer. I loved, loved, loved all the references to both old-time and modern musicals. Plus with all the fun of a Babymouse book, this is a classic.
Bloodhound (The Legend of Beka Cooper, Book 2) by Tamora Pierce - After three years this book was totally worth the wait. It has all the hallmarks of a good Tamora Pierce book, and I liked it even more than Terrier (which is saying a lot).
Cathy's Key: If Found 650-266-8202 by Sean Stewart - I enjoyed the first book in this series (Cathy's Book) but this installment really took it up a notch. There's much more mystery, intrigue, and suspense than the first book. This is one of those I wouldn't have initially put on this list at all, but I've thought about this so much since I read it that I thought it earned it's place here. I never do any of the interactive stuff the book is kind of famous for, so I can't really comment on that, but the story certainly is stong enough to stand on it's own without all the extras.
Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson - I'm not big on most historical non-fiction. But this really read more like a novel than a history book. I was intrigued enough by this story to want to read Manhunt, the adult book this was adapted from. I haven't gotten to it yet, but I will someday! Plus, the overall design of this book was so perfect. It matched the subject matter in every way possible.
Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover (Gallagher Girls) by Ally Carter - I should preface this by saying I love all of the Gallagher Girl books. But this one (the latest installment) is by far my favorite of the bunch.
Dying to Meet You: 43 Old Cemetery Road by Kate Kilse and M. Sarah Kilse - I love many of the Kilse's other books, and I thought this new series was a cute addition to their books. I especially love Olive. She's quite the character!
Eyes Like Stars: Theatre Illuminata, Act I by Lisa Mantchev - The concept behind this one is so original, I just love it. When I tried to share with my family they just thought it was weird, but that's okay. I can enjoy it by myself. (On a side note, when you read that line "she has stars in her eyes" near the beginning, does anyone else think of "Bella Notte" from Lady and the Tramp? You know: "Look at the skies/They have stars in their eyes". Just me? Okay...)
Fairest by Gail Carson Levine - Ella Enchanted is one of my all time favorite retellings, and so when I heard about Fairest I was very excited about the return to this setting. I'll confess I didn't actually read this one, but I did listen to the audio book version. And perhaps that's why I love it so much. Hearing the songs actually sang was amazing. Plus this is done by Full Cast Audio, so the book truly comes alive as you're listening to it.
Gunnerkrigg Court: Orientation by Thomas Siddell - I picked this one up for the Cybils and immediately fell in love. Right away I love the shadow character. This a kind of weird combination of science fiction and fantasy in a graphic novel, but I'm eager to find out what happens next. Silly cliffhanger endings...
I Can Has Cheezburger?: A LOLcat Colleckshun by Professor Happycat - How could I live without my LOLcats? I got this for Christmas last year and it's become one of my favorite I-need-a-pickup books. Cats and laughs, what else is there to want in a book?
NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society (Book One) by Michael Buckley - The nerdy version of James Bond. I loved the humor, the characters, and the development of the main character. This is definitely a series I want to watch out for.
Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood by Tony Lee - I'm ashamed to admit that although I love retellings, the only version of Robin Hood I'm familiar with is the Disney version. So this graphic novel adaptation of the story was new and exciting for me, which is perhaps why I liked it so much.
Pearls Sells Out: A Pearls Before Swine Treasury by Stephan Pastis - Pearls is one of my favorite comic strips. This treasury happens to feature some of my favorite strips about the crocs. Enough said.
Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale - You'll notice there are only to authors on here that appear twice. Shannon Hale is one. So go read her stuff! But for this book specifically, its a fairy tale retelling and a graphic novel. And it's Rapunzel as a western. A perfect mix, and totally deserved the Cybil award it won last year.
Runemarks by Joanne Harris - Another book I wouldn't have thought about putting on my list. This one is certainly long, but it's also unique in all that length. It draws on elements of Norse mythology and a post-apocalyptic society where magic exists but has been banned. Definitely memorable.
The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante - I don't even know how to describe this one. It's one of those books you have to read yourself to understand. Books about religious communes seem to be going around these days, but this one is by far the most impressive one I've personally read so far.
Wicked History of the World by Terry Deary - I love the horrible histories books, and this is kind of a mash up of a bunch of them. There's plenty of new stuff too, and this one has Deary's signature humor and the series signature illustration plus it's in color. A great historical book for reluctant readers!
Will Of The Empress by Tamora Pierce - This one came out several years ago and although I got it pretty much right away I saved it for a really long time. I liked the previous Circle of Magic books so much I think in a way I was afraid this would disappoint. I'm happy to say that it doesn't. In fact, I think this might be one of my favorite Circle books yet. You'll notice Tamora Pierce is the other author who got mentioned on this list twice.
Wonderland by Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew - This is kind of a graphic novel continuation of Disney's Alice in Wonderland, where the main character is Maryanne, that maid the White Rabbit mistakes Alice for when she goes to his house. It was definitely weird, I had to read it a few times before I really understood what was going on. But then again, isn't Wonderland kind of the epitome of weird (I'm talking Lewis Carroll's Wonderland of course, not the Wonderland found in The Looking Glass Wars). Despite the weirdness, I think I like it, if for no other reason than it's Disney. Hey, you should know me that well by now. :)