Mental Floss

The Quick 10: 10 of the Best Books of 2009

Stacy Conradt
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I hate the end of Daylight Saving Time. It means it's dark by the time I get home at the end of the day, which makes it feel like the day is already over, which means I go home and get nothing done for the rest of the night. But there is a silver lining to this cloud: lots of loafing = lots more reading. For some reason I don't feel as guilty about sitting on the couch with a book as I do when there's daylight to burn. Luckily for me, Publishers Weekly just came out with their Top Books of 2009 list. Since I'm more apt to read fiction when I'm reading for fun, I'm going to list those "“ but if you want the whole list (including non-fiction, poetry and comics) you can check it out here. In no particular order, here are 10 of their favorite novels of 2009 thus far (their descriptions, not mine).

1. The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters. A finalist for the Man Booker Prize, this subtle, creepy haunted house story chronicles the decline of an aristocratic county family after WWII as seen through the less than reliable eyes of a bachelor doctor, whose mother once served as a maid at the family's manor.

venice
venice /

3. The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly. Reporter Jack McEvoy decides to go out with a bang, after he's laid off from the L.A. Times, in a nail-biting thriller that charts the demise of print journalism and shows why Connelly is one of today's top crime authors.

4. The Fate of Katherine Carr by Thomas H. Cook. Edgar-winner Cook eloquently explores the often cathartic act of storytelling as George Gates, a former travel writer who after seven years still broods over his eight-year-old son's murder, looks into the unsolved disappearance of reclusive poet Katherine Carr 20 years earlier.

5. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. Flynn tops her impressive debut, Sharp Objects, with a second crime thriller, centered on the slaying of a mother and two daughters in their Kansas farmhouse witnessed by the youngest, surviving daughter. It builds to a truth so twisted even the most astute readers won't see it coming.

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wooden /

8. Tinkers by Paul Harding. George Crosby's deathbed reveries wander through memories of his own life as a boy and the lives of his father and grandfather, in this sumptuously written first novel that has been the darling of indie bookstores.

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sloth /

10. The Last War by Ana Menendez. A deeply moving story of a photojournalist in Istanbul waiting to join her war correspondent husband in Iraq. Her reluctance, suspicions and flashbacks of their time spent in Afghanistan create a dark background for the brilliance of her descriptions and observations.

I lied "“ I did put one of these in a particular order: the first one is the one I'm adding to my Amazon shopping cart as we speak. Can any of you vouch for any of these? If you've recently read something you thought was amazing that isn't on the Publishers Weekly list, share in the comments "“ I'd love to add a few new books to my winter "must-read" list, and I bet some of our readers would too.

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