Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What were your favorite books of 2009?

Thanks to my trusty library card I have read a lot of books this year, but these are the books that really stand out in my mind as I sit here today. Enjoy and get a library card!

Three cups of tea by Greg Mortenson
Greg Mortenson was a high altitude climber who ended up in a small Pakistan village after a climb went wrong. After spending time there, he came to realize his call in life was to build schools in Pakistan. This book is an absolute page turner. It really shines a light into life in Pakistan. I found this particularly interesting given our ongoing war in Afghanistan. A must read!

I’ll scream later
by Marlee Matlin
Marlee Matlin’s autobiography is fantastic. I really didn’t know much about her or her life when I started reading this book. Her story is fascinating, scandalous and a joy to read.

Joanne Fluke Murder Mysteries
Joanne Fluke has a series of murder mysteries that take place in a small town in Minnesota. The heroine is a bakery owner who always stumbles into murders and then somehow outsmarts the police into finding the killer. I love these books for a few reasons: 1. They have recipes for delicious baked goods. 2. The heroine is a pudgy, wild-haired, over 30 bakery owner who is juggling a minimum of two boyfriends. 3. It nails Minnesota. It’s a super easy read. You’ll figure out who did it pretty quickly, but still enjoy the ride.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
This book fundamentally changed the way I look at food. Kingsolver, a popular author, decided to take a year and live off the land. Her family took a pledge to eat locally and that included growing a lot of their own food. It’s a great format that includes her diary of the challenges she faced, interesting essays by her husband filled with research, and delightful recipes she and her daughter developed.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
I am a big fan of Malcom Gladwell. This book explores the idea of what makes people the best of the best. He breaks down the differences between the exceptional and the good through research and analysis. I could not put it down. A couple of findings stuck with me: The 10,000 hour rule. He found that what separated the exceptional from the good was 10,000 hours of practice. If someone practices a skill/talent for 10,000 hours over the course of their life, they will become exceptional. He also had a very interesting finding about elite athletes and their birthdays, but I’ll let you discover that one in the book.

A Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs
In this book, AJ Jacobs takes on the challenge of living by the rules of the Bible – every single rule. It’s entertaining and enlightening as he grows a beard, follows the fabric rules, and learns he cannot touch women or men because he can never know if they are clean. I found this incredibly useful for all those discussions about “what the Bible says”.

Official Book Club Selection by Kathy Griffin
I have really come to like Kathy Griffin over the years of watching her on the D List. I was pleasantly surprised by her autobiography. I thought it would be a joke book – basically her act on paper. While it does include some laugh out loud moments, the book is an insightful retelling of her ongoing struggle to break into the industry, the hard work it took to get her where she is and the challenges she faced in her family and her failed marriage. Don’t miss the book group discussion guide at the end – HILARIOUS!

What were your favorite books of 2009? (Mommies - it's okay if it's a children's book!)


  1. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larson - My interest and knowledge about Sweden has been learned entirely through trips to IKEA. So, I had avoided reading the first book in this trilogy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, for awhile. But once I started, I could not put it down. Both books featured interesting mystery stories and technology plays an important role in helping to solve them. Sweden, the backdrop to both stories, was highlighted well, and I have to say that although I am not much for cold weather, I would definitely like to visit there now to see the sights. I can't wait until next year when the third book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, comes out!

  2. White Tiger by Aravind Adiga - This was a Man Booker prize winner, so to me, that always means it's going to be really, really good. The main character, Balram, narrates a very interesting tale of how he was born into extreme poverty and how he got out of it. An excellent exploration of the modern day caste system in India, and one of the best fictional "biographies" I have ever read.

  3. Sadly, I read very few books. After reading and writing all day at work (and on the weekends), all I generally want to do in my free time is watch trashy TV. Regardless, I picked up American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld in an airport when I didn't want to do real work, and I did not put it down until I finished it. Superbly written. It's loosely based on the idea of Laura Bush, but it's completely a novel. It has just the right amount of politics, love, sex, and scandal.