Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Recommended Reading - A Few Favorites of 2009

I've been plowing through books this year. What with my goal to read 50 books for my 101 Things in 1001 Days and my recent membership to paperbackswap.com*, I have plenty of motivation to read, read, read. I've read 20 books in 2009 and I'm on target to finish my 21st by January 1st. I'm also still listening to audio books during my commute. While I don't count them as official "reads", I've listened to at least 20 audio books, as well.

In light of all this reading, and just in time for the gift-giving rush, I thought I'd share some recommendations for a few of my favorite reads of 2009**.

Fiction

Still Life with Husband by Lauren Fox

If you are a fan of chick lit but are tired of the same old story, or if you aren't really a fan of chick lit at all, I'd highly recommend this book. It's a story about fidelity and the consequences of our choices that's told in a real, no-holds-barred voice. Funny, honest, heartbreaking and inspiring, with a dose of reality that most chick lit novels seem to avoid, Still Life with Husband was one of my top 5 favorite books this year.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I may be one of the few people who hadn't read this by the time the movie came out this year. And there may not be anyone out there who hasn't read it since (or wants to). But if there is someone out there who, for whatever reason, hasn't picked up this book, they should. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I hear it's different. It would have to be. My biggest concern before reading TTTW was that I wouldn't be able to follow all the time jumping, but Niffenegger does a really good job of making the time periods as clear as possible throughout the book. After just a few pages, I had gotten into the groove and read this one in about three days. It was sappy in places, and at some points I wondered why anyone would choose to marry someone who jumped through time, but in the end I felt the story was powerful and well-written.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

I especially enjoy books about other cultures and the nerd in me loves to learn new things even when I'm reading fiction. This novel delivers on both fronts and weaves a moving story at the same time. In it, a young Chinese boy falls in love with a Japanese classmate in Seattle during World War II, which affects the man he becomes in both expected and surprising ways. It's not action-packed, but it's a thoughtful and moving narrative that kept me turning the pages to the very end.

Change of Heart: A Novel by Jodi Picoult

As I've mentioned a few times before, I'm a huge fan of Picoult's writing. So much so that I often read several of her books back-to-back without a break. After a recent stint like that, I've decided that I have to read another author in between her books from now on. I love her stories and how she delivers them, but sometimes they become a little too formulaic. That being said, Change of Heart (the book I read first during the aforementioned stint) was one of my favorite Picoult's to date. You can read a much better review of it at my 101 Things blog.

Nonfiction

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink

I used to think I had managed to establish a pretty good balance between left-brained, analytical-type thinking and right-brained, creative-type problem solving. After reading this book, I had to think again. Pink offers some well-known and not-so-well-known reasons why right-brained thinking is on the rise (or should be) in the business world and then goes one step further to offer up suggestions and activities that can help even the most left-brained thinker exercise her right brain. Whether you are already the creative type or could use some practice putting your right-brain to work, this book is an easy, interesting and useful read.

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

If you're looking for humor writing at its best, Sedaris is your man. His essay collections never fail to leave me laughing out loud (which can be embarrassing if you're sitting in Starbucks, FYI). This is his newest essay collection, and while it wasn't his best, it wasn't bad by any means. If you haven't read any of his stuff, I'd recommend starting with Me Talk Pretty One Day or Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim to get a feel for his style and voice. These are great audio books, as well. Sedaris reads his own stuff and hearing him tell these stories is even funnier than reading them.

First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Cunningham and Curt Coffman

After being promoted to a management position late in 2008, and almost immediately having this book recommended, I borrowed a copy from our corporate library and got to work reading. Only it wasn't really work. Expecting a dry, instructional text on how to be a better manager, I was pleasantly surprised by this easy read. The voice was authoritative yet conversational and the examples and case studies the authors used demonstrated effective management techniques--and why typical management strategies don't work.

If you have already read any of these books, I'd love to hear what you thought of them. And if you haven't, I suggest you go out and buy, borrow or swap a few (for yourself or someone else).

Disclaimers:
* If you join Paperback Swap using the referral link above I'll get an extra book credit for referring you. Whether you use me as a referral or not, my nickname is writingherlife. If you join, buddy me!

** Most of the book links provided here use my Amazon Associate account and I will earn a teeny tiny profit if you order the books using these links.

2 comments:

howdidyougetthere said...

Way to go!! I find I spend so much time reading on the internet that books almost go by the wayside, it's not as easy to read books as we think. Not that I don't keep BUYING books - I do, like a maniac.

Love seeing you list, Kristi

Erin said...

I love David Sedaris, too!
And I'm reading a Jodi Picoult right now. In fact, must go read some of it now before I have to go pick the girls up from school!

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