Sunday, December 20, 2009

To be so presumptuous to post a list of "the best" books of a year, when that year is still 12 days short of completion, is to be a fool. But here I am about to do just that, admitting I have read cover to cover a mere 74 books published in 2009. Yet, working at a bookstore, reading many publisher lists and handling untold numbers: reading the first 50 or so pages of gods know how many books, I am in a better position than most folks to know what is out there and to begin separating recyclables from trash destined for the landfills. Ten or twenty years from today, a 2009 "best" books list will doubtless look quite different, but today these are the books I am obsessing over, these are the twenty-five or six books I most love, listed below, as always in order of preference. Let me pause for these words from my sponsor: if you are having trouble finding these titles and happen to be in Atlanta, we have most of my favorites at A Cappella Books. If we don't have them and they are still in print, we can place a special order and have them in a few days.

Favorite Books 2009

1. Colm Toibin: Brooklyn (Scribner)
2. Padgett Powell: The Interrogative Mood (Ecco)
3. Vladimir Nabokov: The Original of Laura (Knopf)
4. Colum McCann: Let the Great World Spin (Random House)
5. Paul Auster: Invisible (Henry Holt)
6. Dave Eggers: Zeitoun (McSweeney's)
7. Elijah Wald: How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll (Oxford)
8. Abdourahman Waberi: In the United States of Africa (Nebraska)
9. Hans Fallada: Every Man Dies Alone (Melville House)
10. Hans Fallada: The Drinker (Melville House)
11. Nicholson Baker: The Anthologist (Simon & Schuster)
12. Francine Prose: Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife (Harper)
13. Peter Richardson: A Bomb in Every Issue: How the Short, Unruly Life of "Ramparts Magazine" Changed America (New Press)
14. Max Blumenthal: Republican Gamorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party (Nation)
15. Nick Hornby: Juliet, Naked (Riverhead)
16. Paul Gorman: Reasons to be Cheerful, The Life and Work of Barney Bubbles (Adelita Ltd.)
17. Andrew Perchuk & Rani Singh: Harry Smith: The Avant-Garde in the American Vernacular (Getty Research Institute)
18. Jeffrey Haas: The Assassination of Fred Hampton (Lawrence Hill)
19. Kevin Wilson: Tunneling to the Center of the Earth (Harper Perennial)
20. Nicholas Rombes: A Cultural Dictionary of Punk 1974 - 1982 (Continuum)
21. C.L.R. James: You Don't Play with Revolution (AK Press)
22. Nami Mun: Miles from Nowhere (Riverhead)
23. Majorie Cohn & Kathleen Gilberd: Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent (PoliPoint)
24. Chris Hedges: Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (Nation)
25. Steve Waksman: This Ain't the Summer of Love (California)


SPECIAL MENTION: BEST REISSUE:

Middleton A. Harris: The Black Book: 35th Anniversary Edition (Random House)