I'm feeling like a bit of a poser at the moment. I usually read tons of books every year and review a lot of them. But this year, I only read about 40, and many good books that I really want to read and think I will really enjoy are still sitting on my bookshelves. So while this is a list of the best books I've read in 2009, I feel like I should have another list of the most amazing books I didn't get to this year.
This list varies a lot more than last year's list. Last year I have five YA fiction books, but this year includes a contemporary novel, a picture book and a nonfiction book as well as two YA fiction books. This is probably the only place you will ever see a combination of books like this on a best books list. Seriously. Talk about strange bedfellows.
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
I picked this book not only because it's such an amazing read but also because it's a part of history that rarely gets told. So often the ugly parts of history are brushed aside for prettier stories that make us feel good about our heritage. But the thing is, we can learn the most from the things we understand the least. You really get into the main character's head in this book, and it is so flawlessly researched that you don't even really see the history as you're reading it.
Into the Wild by Jon Krackaur
I read this book after I saw the movie but also because I've read a couple other Krachaur books and loved them. I don't read a lot of nonfiction, and it's books like these that make me want to commit to reading more. Like with Chains, there were so many moments I didn't understand in this book, but I feel like I came away a more compassionate person with a greater appreciation for nature and what drives people to do these extreme adventures.
Big Frog Can't Fit In by Mo Willems
Seriously, what more can you ask for in a book? I honestly think this book marks a big change in the pop-up medium because the story-line would never work in any other format. Plus, it passed the "kid test" and is by the beloved Mo Willems. This book was a treasured find from this year's National Book Festival.
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
Maybe it's because I feel so connected with music that I could connect so well with this novel. Or maybe it was because the writing was so beautiful. Or maybe it was because I understood a little about what the female lead wanted in life but couldn't seem to find. But this book ripped me open and left me naked. While Chains helped me understand history, and Into the Wild helped me understand other people, this book helped me understand myself more than any other book I read this year.
Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron
I liked the idea of including this book on my list because of all the potential in it. Jon is going to be a great addition to YA lit. He has a new and fresh perspective on the genera that will allow him to incite change. But no pressure, Jon. Just write what comes to you and the evolution will happen naturally.
You can read my best of 2008 list here.