Thursday, December 31, 2009

Favorite books in 2009

It’s the last day of the year, and you know what that means … nostalgia and looking back. What were your favorite books of the year? (Books that were new to you in 2009, if not necessarily published this year.)


1) Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, In Afghanistan and Pakistan by Greg Mortenson. Very inspirational - "if there is a will, there is a way" really described what Greg and his team had achieved. If you haven't yet read his first book, Three Cups of Tea, I will read that first as it gives you more background story on how he stumbled into this amazing journey.

2) Josie's Story - A Mother's Inspiring Crusade to Make Medical Care Safe by Sorrel King. Similar to Greg Mortenson, Sorrel also made a difference in patient safety. See a similar theme of books I like?

3) A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg. I have always loved food, but don't have the patience to cook. But her book inspired me to learn to book, which I'm planning to do in 2010.

4) Joker One: A Marine Platoon's Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood by Donovan Campbell. I don't know anybody in the military so this book really opened my eyes on what it's like to be a Marine and to be fighting in a war.

Honorable mentioned (not in any order):

* Something for the Pain (One Doctor's Account of Life and Death in the ER) by Paul Austin. I work in healthcare, so am interested in medical memoir. I haven't worked on any projects in the ER so it was interesting to read about how different it is to other areas.

* A Star Is Found: Our Adventures Casting Some of Hollywood's Biggest Movies by Janet Hirshenson & Jane Jenkins. Fun to read about castings even though I haven't seen a lot of the (older) movies mentioned in the book.

* Marley & Me: Love and Life with the World's Worst Dog by John Grogan. Not really a dog person but almost made me consider getting a dog Definitely like the book better than the movie. Don't forget to have tissues nearby. John's second memoir, The Longest Trip Home: A Memoir, was also well written but I preferred Marley.

* Columbine by Dave Cullen. Answered some questions, but I think there are still questions that can't really be answered...

* Blue Collar Blue Scrubs: The Making of a Surgeon by Michael Collins. Another medical memoir - I liked his first book, Hot Lights, Cold Steel, a bit better (how his life was being an intern/resident at Mayo Clinic) but this book is also quite inspiring as he wrote about why he decided to go to medical school and how hard he worked to get into med school.

* Bringing Home the Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World's Most Coveted Handbag by Michael Tonello. I have no clue about designer bags so it was fun to read how he "beat" the system and made a life for himself.

* Dirty Dishes: A Restaurateur's Story of Passion, Pain, and Pasta by Pino Luongo and Andrew Friedman. Another inspiring memoir about someone who had nothing, but worked hard, and became successful in their chosen profession.

* Acceptance: A Legendary Guidance Counselor Helps Seven Kids Find the Right Colleges - and Find Themselves by David Marcus. I didn't go to high school or college here in the US, so had no idea about what high school students go through when they apply for college (totally different system.) I like the message that "famous schools" aren't for everybody.

* Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl. Another fun read about food and restaurants. It include some recipes as well and I was hungry when I read this book! Sounded like a fun job to be a restaurant critic, but there are some not-so-glamorous matters to go with it too (but I guess this is true for any job.)


1) Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Just love this book - it seems so real that it could have been a memoir. I love how the story unfolded. I can't wait to read her second book. Also learned a bit about self-publishing and how it became such a successful book on Lisa's website.

2) The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Not usually a genre I'd read but I'm glad I did! Love the different voices and the characters are just delightful. People you wish you get to meet.

3) The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine. Difficult topic to read about but the story stayed with you. Dr Levine is multi-talented - he and his colleagues in the NEAT (Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis) lab at Mayo Clinic have pioneered an "Office of the Future"!

Honorable mentioned (not in order):

* The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows. Again, not something I'd normally read but I like its letters format and the characters are adorable.

* Rooftops of Tehran: A Novel by Mahbod Seraji. The story and characters stayed with you too.

* If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Trying to read some Young Adult (YA) books this year and this one made me the most emotional. I also enjoyed Thirteen Reasons Why as I couldn't put it down, but I got frustrated sometimes thinking that "this is not such a big deal!" (reasons for committing suicide) and had to remind myself that, while it doesn't seem like a big deal to me as an adult, it is probably a big deal to teenagers.

* My Sister's Helper by Jodi Picoult. My fist (and only) Picoult book and I liked it - her writing, the dilemma, and the ending. I know not everyone agreed... but sometimes controversial books are great reads. It definitely made me think... If I had a sister who had cancer... if my child had cancer... if I had cancer...

I guess for non-fiction books, I chose what inspired me and what made me learned something new.

For fiction - as I read the list of books I read, there are some I don't quite remember the plots or characters anymore... So I chose those that still lingered in my mind when I saw the title (and perhaps learned something new too.) I typically read contemporary murder/mystery/thriller, but this year I tried to expand to other areas such as YA and stories involving other cultures or set in the past. Yes I did read Twilight but it didn't make it to my favorites - a bit too predictable for me and I am not in love with either Edward or Jacob. I do see why it is popular among teenagers though it baffled me a bit about its popularity with adults... I guess I didn't think Edward was my dream mate :) I didn't read the rest of the series but just googled spoilers to find out what happened. Still not a chick-lit reader though...


  1. Christa,
    Wow, so pleased that you read and enjoyed my book and posted about it.
    Happy New Year!
    michael tonello~

  2. Still Alice made my list also. I am going to read Thirteen Reasons this year.

    Here is mine

  3. It's nice to see such a big nonfiction list, although most of the books you mentioned are new to me :-). I loved Marley & Me (and The Longest Trip Home) too - and I AM a dog person :-).

    Your top two novels were near the top of my list as well.