This year I’ve read 100 books. (Barring any further reading before midnight on the 31st, of course, but I don’t think I’m going to have the time in the next couple of days, so I’ll probably be stuck with this nice round number.) I kept a list for myself, just like I did last year. One happy side effect of taking time off to write was that I got a lot more reading done – in 2008 I apparently only read 41 book.
Now, to the highlights!
FAVORITE YA NOVEL
This was a competitive category this year. Probably the most competitive, actually – looking back at my list it appears I read quite a lot of YA and quite a lot of it was new and award-winning. A noticeable theme here: awesome heroines. All three of the young women who lead these books are formidable.
Honourable mentions: Graceling, Kristin Cashore; Un Lun Dun, China Mieville
Winner: The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
FAVORITE NON FICTION
I Believe in Yesterday
A lot of the non-fiction I read came from one category: writing how-to guides. The rest of it was very widespread, although mostly focussing on personal interests: travel, agriculture/food, literature.
Favorite writing how-to guide: Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose
Honourable mentions, general non-fiction: Farm City, Novella Carpenter; The Magician’s Book, Laura Miller
Winner: I Believe in Yesterday, Tim Moore
Does that seem vague? Oh well. Anyway, these were all discoveries, of a sort, mostly in the sense that I hadn’t read them before and thought I should have.
Honourable mentions here go to Canadian writers whose work I was glad to discover: Bill Gaston (whose short stories exactly fit my appetite for shorts that combine energy and plot with strong writing) and Alastair MacLeod (who is a Canadian legend and whose characterization and evocation of place aren’t to be missed), as well as to Neil Gaiman, who I hadn’t read at all when the year began, and then I saw the Stardust movie and picked up that book and since then I’ve read almost all his stuff.
Winner: on a totally different tangent, but still: all the Jeeves & Wooster books (and PG Wodehouse as well). I had never read his stuff and it’s very funny. And relaxing. It’s good to have in one’s repertoire.
FAVORITE SPECULATIVE FICTION
I like both fantasy and sci-fi. I’ve definitely read more Hugo winners in my life than Nobel Lit prize winners. This year I did a lot of re-reading in the category,
Honourable mentions: American Gods, Neil Gaiman; The Orphan’s Tale: In the Night Garden, Catherynne M. Valente
Winner: The Veil of Gold, Kim Wilkins
The Story of Lucy Gault
I apparently did not read that many lit-fiction novels this year. I can’t even come up with an honourable mention list. Last year was a better one for novels – of the 41 books I read I can see at least five that would have battled their way onto an end-of-year list. And two books from that year made my all-time top ten. That being said, this year’s winner also managed that feat. So it was a dry year, but that’s not taking anything away from the winner, which I think is breathtaking. (And the author may have deserved a position on my ‘favorite discoveries’ list, too.)
Winner: The Story of Lucy Gault, William Trevor