A belated look back over my 2009 reading (post backdated to January 2010). I read 60 books in 2009 - discounting books read solely for work - which was a slight improvement on last year's total, although still rather smaller than I'd like.
Of the 60 (links are to my reviews here and elsewhere, unless otherwise stated):
- 8 were non-fiction, including
- 6 historical monographs
- 1 historical biography
- 1 17th-century Spanish treatise/memoir about the Inca
- 52 were fiction, including
- 38 science fiction and fantasy (! boosted by reading two shortlists for sfnal awards)
- 6 historical fiction
- 4 short story collections
- 9 of the 60 were translations into English, including
- 22 were by women, 38 by men
My top ten of the year were as follows (again, links are to my reviews, with one exception):
Stunning historical fantasy about a pair of young people who turn their marginality and vulnerability into sources of strength, for both themselves and their country. Took me completely by surprise when it was sent to me for review by SFX.
Bleak, bleak, all is bleak; but the prose is so hypnotic! A future classic.
One of three books by Russ I read in 2009; wins out for its tight focus and the emotional and psychological intensity of the final section (in which the lead character dies, voluntarily, of starvation).
This year's history entry on the top ten, and another woman in extremis: this is a biography of Luisa de Carvajal, who moved to London in 1604, the better to suffer for her faith.
I'm very late to the Atkinson party, but I gobbled this up: a generational family saga through the eyes of a fantastically cynical narrator.
(Link is to Vicky's review.) Prison life in Burma. Searing.
I am not an angry girl
But it seems like I've got everyone fooled
Every time I say something they find hard to hear
They chalk it up to my anger
And never to their own fear
--Ani DiFranco, 'Not a Pretty Girl'
Well-deserved Clarke Award winner; a journey through future history.
Mad, inventive short fiction and metafiction.
For the emotional insight, and the female characters given room to be.
Bubbling just under this list are Joe Abercrombie's Before They Are Hanged, Joanna Russ' (her again) The Adventures of Alyx, and Ursula Le Guin's Lavinia, each of which do subversively interesting things with fantasy tropes.
Finally, 2009's dishonourable mentions go to: Raymond E Feist's woefully generic Rides a Dread Legion, Mark Wernham's really irritating Martin Martin's On the Other Side, Stephen Deas' torturously arch The Adamantine Palace, and to three books from the David Gemmell Legend Award shortlist, Juliet Marillier's Heir to Sevenwaters, Brandon Sanderson's The Hero of Ages, and (ack) Brent Weeks' The Way of Shadows (all of which I wrote about here). Oh, and The Da Vinci Code, which was a present from an old friend that I read in an increasingly exasperated afternoon, but which I was far too bored by to want to write about...