Best and Worst Books of 2009

Like every other year, 2009 has had its fair share of literary highs and lows. We’d like YOU shrewd book  buffs to share the sublime and ridiculous from your reading lists this year.

In the spirit of  Christmas giving, if your favourite author let you down then this is the perfect opportunity to put the boot in. Alternatively, if you’ve made a fab new discovery, please get enthused and rave away. Devoted or disaffected it’s time to dish the dirt, and we’ve got four $50 book vouchers for lucky customers. So don’t pull any punches tell us what you really think. The competition closes on 16 December.

To get the ball rolling, my most memorable read of 2009 is  This is how by M.J. Hyland. Published this year it  tells the story of Patrick, a lonely and confused young man whose short-lived engagement has abruptly ended casting him adrift. He lands up in a seaside B&B where, inexplicably he commits a life changing act of violence. Known for the claustrophobic quality of  her work, Hyland creates a disconnected and damaged character, who longs for acceptance and love but has no talent for achieving it.

Published last year Life’s too f***ing short : a guide to getting what you want out of life without wasting time, effort or money by Janet Street-Porter is a feisty sounding  title that promises much but  delivers very little. Street-Porter,  journalist and broadcaster, is a legend but this is a very shallow take on the values that drove her to succeed in the media, survive four marriages and be the thinking man’s crumpet despite her frankly unusual looks. Outspoken and ballsy she may be but this book is hypocritical and gimmicky trash. But guess what? A  follow-up is soon to be with us Don’t let the b*****ds get you down, eek!

So what’s your best or worst this year? Fire away, then enter the draw.

24 thoughts on “Best and Worst Books of 2009

  1. Michael A 24 November 2009 / 9:51 am

    Best fiction book(s) this year: “The Girl who played with Fire” and “The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s nest” by Steig Larsson (really one book in two volumes). Great story, terrific characters, satisfying depth and intrigue, all the loose ends tied up in the finale.

  2. richard 24 November 2009 / 2:20 pm

    Some interesting suggestions from customers so far:

    Keep them coming!

  3. Tom 25 November 2009 / 12:28 pm

    Interesting. I found the Winter Vault a bit of a disappointment after being thrilled by Anne Michaels’ previous book Fugitive Pieces.

    • Richard 25 November 2009 / 2:30 pm

      Only one nominee for worst of the year so far – Twilight, which Coree Sanders says is: “Mills and Boon for Vampires!!! Vapid, insipid writing and lacklustre characters. What on earth is all the fuss about?”

      • Tom 25 November 2009 / 2:33 pm

        Coree knows her books!

      • Rachael 25 November 2009 / 4:02 pm

        I’ve read vampire Mills and Boon, trust me, Twilight beats it hands down.

      • richard 25 November 2009 / 4:28 pm

        Stephenie Meyer rates one mention with youth so far. Perhaps the Twilight is fading?

      • mj 26 November 2009 / 6:05 am

        not sure that Twilight enthusiasm will ever fade for some Robert P fans … *sigh*

      • Joyce 4 December 2009 / 3:43 pm

        I keep meaning to read People of the book and I’ve also always wanted to read her Year of Wonders…might have to be my New Year resolution.

  4. Team Edward 25 November 2009 / 2:51 pm

    Twilight bashing is just cheap and easy..they are not of any lasting literary merit but if they get teenagers and bored housewives hot under the collar surely that is great.

  5. mj 26 November 2009 / 6:05 am

    My two picks for best YA reads this year – “Liar” by Justine Larbalestier, and “How beautiful the ordinary” edited by Michael Cart.

  6. Donna 26 November 2009 / 4:14 pm

    If I don’t like it I give it the heave-ho. Though I did read all of LA Candy by Lauren Conrad of “The Hills”. If only it had characters with the car-wreck quality of utterly boring yet scarily fascinating “Fleshbeard” Spencer and Heidi (I guess you’ll only know who they are if you are a secret ashamed Hills watcher).

    Best book of the year is harder to pick as I didn’t rack up my usual number of reads but as a mad keen Pre-Raphaelites fan I did love Desperate Romantics: the private lives of the Pre-Raphaelites by Franny Moyle. There’s not much better than a good old fossick behind the scenes of a lot of stunners and nutters like those boys and girls.

  7. Donna 26 November 2009 / 4:21 pm

    I have only seen the first Twilight movie. I think I missed something. I didn’t understand the sparkles, or why you would keep repeating high school over & over. Is Edward a zombie or a vampire? He is quite a lovely jaw-y looking thing though.

  8. jane 27 November 2009 / 4:51 pm

    The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas was a surprise hit (so to speak) for me. Also Valley of Grace by Marion Halligan – yay for the Australians.

  9. Brian 29 November 2009 / 10:58 am

    My best book of the year is The Complaints by Ian Rankin. The worst, The Coroner by M.R Hall a murder/forensic cliche!

  10. Helen 29 November 2009 / 3:33 pm

    They were published in 2008 but I didn’t get to them until this year – my picks are A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Both were compelling and unpredictable, and made me look forward to reading much more from these authors.

  11. Mo-mo 30 November 2009 / 12:57 pm

    Yes, Twilight bashing is easy (and fun!) if only it burned calories it would be the perfect leisure activity.

    My best book of the year is the Anti-Twilight Let the right one in. I found it horribly repulsive whilst un-put-downable.

    2009 was also the year that I discovered the genius of Transmetropolitan of which I am now a fully fledged fan.

  12. oneder 30 November 2009 / 8:14 pm

    My favourite read this year (although it was published way back in 2005) has got to be ‘The Book Thief’ by Markus Zusak. The characters are what make this book – I became more and more attached to them with every page I turned.
    My biggest disappoinment was Wally Lamb’s ‘The Hour I First Believed’. After reading ‘I Know This Much Is True’, I had high hopes for his next book, but alas. Either Mr Lamb is one of those overprotective, don’t-touch-my-baby type writers or his editor came to work that day and said ‘edit a book? nah…don’t really feel like it’.

    • Michael A 2 December 2009 / 5:28 pm

      I really tried to like “I Know This Much is True” but failed and abandoned ship before page 100 – just another book whose popularity I can’t comprehend.

  13. Wendy 1 December 2009 / 3:48 pm

    Two fabulous books I read this year were by NZ authors – Limestone by Fiona Farrell and Novel about my Wife by Emily Perkins. I haven’t a worst as I don’t persist if I don’t enjoy – too many good books to read and not enough time.

    • Helen 1 December 2009 / 7:18 pm

      Yes, Limestone is excellent. You’ve made me reconsider my Best pick, had forgotten about it!

  14. Valerie 4 December 2009 / 12:22 pm

    Life’s too short to read bad literature. So I don’t. If the book hasn’t got my attention by the end of chapter one, I don’t keep reading it. This year The two I enjoyed the most were Geraldine Brooks – ‘People of the book’ and Anna Marie Nicholson – ‘Pliny’s warning’.

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