2009 Reading List

What I was reading (when I probably should have been working) in 2009.  An asterisk means it was required reading for my Creative Writing MA.

108. After The Fire, A Still Small Voice, Evie Wyld.  Very strong writing but never really came alive for me.
107. The Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood.  Not bad, entertaining, but not breaking new ground.
106. Air, Geoff Ryman. Brilliant SF-ish novel about change and time and villages and all sorts.
105. Incredible Bodies, Ian McGuire. Massively entertaining campus novel, made me laugh out loud.
104. Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives, Brad Watson.  A mixed bag of stories.
103. The Heaven of Mercury, Brad Watson.  Really disappointing.
102. Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood. Reread before I get the new one at Christmas. Bit heavy-handed.
101. *Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Alan Sillitoe.  MA reread; enjoyed it again.
100. *The Girls Of Slender Means, Muriel Spark. MA reread.  Does this count - twice in one year? Still great.
99. The Ticking Is The Bomb, Nick Flynn.  Very powerful look at Abu Ghraib, etc. See review.
98. Consider The Lilies, Carol Fenlon. Interesting novel looking at feral children.
97. The Last Days Of The Dog Men, Brad Watson.  Amazing and poignant short stories - beautiful.
96. An Experiment in Love, Hilary Mantel. Strong contender for my Read of the Year.
95. Nobody Move, Denis Johnson. Hmmm. Great, but was more of a stretched-out novella.
94. *By Night in Chile, Roberto Bolano. Good, but I still prefer The Savage Detectives.
93. *Goodbye, Columbus, Philip Roth. My favourite of his, I think.
92. Small Memories, Jose Saramago. Memoirs of his childhood. Funny & entertaining.
91. Mysteries and Manners, Flannery O'Connor.  Essays, mainly about writing, region & religion.  Good.
90. *Labyrinths, Jorge Borges. Interesting stories.
89. *A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess.  MA reread.  Horrorshow!
88. Madame Verona Comes Down The Hill, Dimitri Verhulst. See my Bookmunch review.
87. Jesus' Son, Denis Johnson.  I'll say it again - I love Mr Johnson. Great stories.
86. When It Changed, ed. Geoff Ryman. Great new SF collection from Comma.
85. *The End Of The Affair, Graham Greene.  Reread for MA. Wonderful; really bitter-sweet.
84. *Mrs Dalloway, Virgina Woolf.  Reread for MA.  Still love it, and so sharp.
83. The White Road and Other Stories, Tania Hershman.  First full collection of flash fiction I've read.
82. *The History Man, Malcolm Bradbury.  A reread for the MA; funnier than I remembered it being.
81. *On Writing, Stephen King.  Half how-to book, half memoir; entertaining and useful.
80. *White Noise, Don DeLillo. A reread, and a great one.
79. The Stepford Wives, Ira Levin. A short and easy read, but tense and chilling.
78. The Raw Shark Texts, Steven Hall. Thrilling and clever.  Total recommendation.  Read this.
77. *Madame Bovary, Gustav Flaubert.  An MA re-read. I'd forgotten how funny this is.
76. Scorch Atlas, Blake Butler.  Horrific, nightmarish, brutal - excellent!
75. *Aspects Of The Novel, E.M. Forster.  Fancy, yeah? Oddly, not so facinating.
74. *The Girls of Slender Means, Muriel Spark. Very acute and funny.  Good old Muriel.
73. *Austerlitz, W. G. Sebald. Interesting, very quick read for quite a long book too.
72. *What Maisie Knew, Henry James. Kind of difficult to follow, tbh.
71. The Broom Of The System, David Foster Wallace. Brilliant brilliant brilliant brilliant etc
70. This Is How, M.J. Hyland. Good, but petered out by the end, I thought.
69. Girl Meets Boy, Ali Smith. Lovely. Smith's prose is beautiful.
68. Bid Me To Live, H.D. Bit too flowery and impressionistic.
67. The Rehearsal, Eleanor Catton. Interesting technique, but didn't do it for me.
66. The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga. Very overrated, methinks. (Hey - 66 - Almost satanic.)
65. Angels, Denis Johnson. I love Johnson.
64. Quicksand, Jun'ichiro Tanizaki. Enjoyed it. Very quick to read.
63. The Day of Forever, J. G. Ballard. Some great stories, some left me cold.
62. Candide, Voltaire. Very funny - why didn't I read this years ago?
61. The Fatal Eggs, Mikhail Bulgakov. Meh - some very funny bits but not all that amazing.
60. In Search of Adam, Caroline Smailes. Brilliant voice, incredibly moving.
59. Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt. Perfect.
58. When We Were Bad, Charlotte Mendelson. This grew on me as it went along.
57. The Restraint of Beasts, Magnus Mills. Funny.
56. The Right Hand of Sleep, John Wray. Well written but very stiff.
55. Tough, Tough Toys for Tough, Tough Boys, Will Self. Great stories.
54. Waiting For The Barbarians, J. M. Coetzee. Understated, powerful, horrific - as advertised!
53. Man Gone Down, Michael Thomas. Maybe a little too loose.
52. Death at Intervals, Jose Saramago. Thought-provoking as ever.
51. Europeana, Patrik Ourednik. Cool!
50. Family Matters, Rohinton Mistry. Very moving.
49. Words From A Glass Bubble, Vanessa Gebbie. Very strong collection of shorts.
48. The Year Of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion. Sensitive analysis of mourning & grief.
47. Brace, ed. Jim Hinks. Comma Press short fiction anthology. Good stuff.
46. Day, A.L. Kennedy. Astoundingly good. I adored this. Amazing.
45. The Golden Gate, Vikram Seth. Really inventive.
44. Bed, Tao Lin. Didn't like this. Repetitive, rambling, simplistic.
43. Cannery Row, John Steinbeck. Funny, gentle stories.
42. My Revolutions, Hari Kunzru. Drew me in as it went along.
41. We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful. Anthology by former Manchester MA students.
40. [REFUGE]E, Adnan Mahmutovic. Stories and poems about Bosnian refugees.
39. Instruction Manual For Swallowing, Adam Marek. Very entertaining, great narratives.
38. The Information, Martin Amis. Better than advertised - a lot like London Fields.
37. A Book Addict's Treasury, ed. Lynda Murphy, Julie Rugg. Fun collection of quotes etc.
36. I Remember, Joe Brainard. Beautiful, evocative.
35. The Worms Can Carry Me To Heaven, Alan Warner. Not as good as the Scottish books.
34. *The Good Soldier, Ford Maddox Ford. Fascinating narrative structure.
33. Postcards, E. Annie Proulx. Beautiful.
32. *On Beauty, Zadie Smith.
31. American Short Story Masterpieces, ed. Raymond Carver, Tom Jenks. Actual masterpieces.
30. Balancing On The Edge Of The World, Elizabeth Baines. Some lovely stories here.
29. More Pricks Than Kicks, Samuel Beckett.
28. 2666, Roberto Bolano. This took me forever; not really convinced by it, annoyingly.
27. Dear Mr. Capote, Gordon Lish. Genuis.
26. A Kind Of Intimacy, Jenn Ashworth. Fantastic. Read it, read it, read it.
25. The House Of Spirits, Isabelle Allende. Epic.
24. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson. I liked the film, but the book kicks ass.
23. God's Own Country, Ross Raisin. Great voice.
22. In Watermelon Sugar, Richard Brautigan. Amazing.
21. Arthur and George, Julian Barnes. Boring. It looked boring; not sure why I bothered.
20. A Fool's Alphabet, Sebastian Faulks.
19. What Was Lost, Catherine O'Flynn. Didn't enjoy this; very over-hyped.
18. Union Street, Pat Barker. I love Pat Barker.
17. The Secret River, Kate Grenville.
16. The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness. Great. But now I have to wait for the sequel.
15. Ever, Blake Butler. Confounding. (see review)
14. Netherland, Joseph O'Neill. Duller.
13. The Coma, Alex Garland. Dull...
12. The Savage Detectives, Roberto Bolano. Fantastic.
11. The Bird Room, Chris Killen. (see review)
10. The Enchantress of Florence, Salman Rushdie. Better than the last one.
9. The Dreamfighter, Ted Hughes.
8. Last Exit To Brooklyn, Hubert Selby Jr. Brilliant.
7. Johhny Panic & The Bible of Dreams, Sylvia Plath. A regrettable re-read. Bad stuff.
6. Heart Songs, E. Annie Proulx. Great. I love her - except Accordian Crimes - hated that.
5. The Innocent, Ian McEwan. Surprisingly horrible and totally underrated.
4. Jill, Philip Larkin. Boring.
3. Tree of Smoke, Denis Johnson. Love it, love it.
2. The Optimists, Andrew Miller. Meh.
1. Suite Francaise, Irene Nemirovsky. Number one of '09, thumbs up!

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