Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Best of the Decade

Making "Best of" lists is ridiculous when you love almost every book you read. Do you prefer Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible to Dorothy Canfield Fisher's The Brimming Cup? Julie Hecht's Happy Trails to You to Laurie Colwin's Happy All the Time? They're all great, but there's probably not room for all of them on the list.

And if you can't decide which books you loved most this year, imagine what it's like to catalogue the best of the decade. Earlier I listed an absurd number of my favorite books of 2000-2004. Now I've winnowed the whole decade down to a Top 30, and, guess what, my Top of the Charts is in reality more like a Top 200! Below are a mix of 30 classics and pop, old and new, listed by the year I read them.


Zadie Smith’s White Teeth

Romola by George Eliot


Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina, and Richard Farina by David Hughes


In Sunlight, In a Beautiful Garden by Kathleen Cambor

A Whistling Woman by A. S. Byatt


None Shall Look Back by Caroline Gordon

The Empty Mirror: Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery by Janwillem Van de Wetering


Long for This World by Michael Byers

Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett

The Best Awful by Carrie Fisher

Aloft by Chang-rae Lee

Don’t Tell Alfred by Nancy Mitford


One Pair of Hands by Monica Dickens

The Newcomes by Thackeray


Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence by Goeff Dyer

The Trench by Abdulrahman Munif


Hunk City by James Wilcox

The Towers of Trebizand by Rose Macaulay


Honourable Estate by Vera Brittain

The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

The Last World by Christoph Ransmayr

A Hazard of New Fortunes by William dean Howells


The Children's Book by A. S. Byatt

Ovid's Heroides

The New Moon with the Old by Dodie Smith

An Avenue of Stone by Pamela Hansford Johnson

The Brimming Cup by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

They Walked like Men by Clifford Simak

Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem

See a longer Best of 2009 list here.

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