The past year was another noteworthy one for the book biz. While brick-and-mortar stores struggled to stay afloat, the e-book (and e-reader) market continued to make waves. Amazon made its Kindle more affordable, while Sony released an e-reader for under $200—and, as the year came to a close, Barnes & Noble scrambled to try to keep up with demand for its gorgeous new Nook.
Fortunately for your friendly neighborhood bookstore, the fall brought some much-needed relief from the recession’s economic slump—when even the most reluctant readers raced out to buy Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol. Meanwhile, the price wars and format wars raged on.
Still, through it all, we here at N&W.com kept our noses firmly planted in any book that we could get our book-loving little hands on—both the paper kind and the electronic kind (along with a few of the CD kind, too). Now, as we eagerly anticipate the books of 2010, Margaret Marr and I take a few minutes to look back fondly on the best of 2009.
Margaret’s Picks of 2009:
Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain: nothing gives you creepy-crawly skin like this unsettling read.
City of Silver by Annamaria Alfieri: one of the best historical suspense stories of all time.
The Price of Malice by Archer Mayor: few do fast-paced and complicated plots like Mayor.
Under the Dome by Stephen King: no one makes ordinary characters downright fascinating like King does.
True Blue by David Baldacci: an up-all-night, just-one-more-chapter-before-lights-out read.
Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa: a debut wow!
Blood Atonement by Dan Waddell: murder has never been so sinister.
The Hunted by Wayne Barcomb: the best twist ending in years.
The Silent Hour by Michael Koryta: a most chilling paranormal thriller.
Baby Shark’s Jugglers at the Border by Robert Fate: one of the greatest characters to ever grace the pages of a novel.
Above the Law by Tim Green: in-your-face suspense that never slows down.
Urban Gothic by Brian Keene: a frightening trip through an abandoned house.
The Lost City of Z by David Grann: Though it’s entirely factual, Grann’s The Lost City of Z still has the action and suspense of a great thriller. I can’t wait to see how Two Lovers director James Gray will handle the film version.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith: With a good mix of drama, romance, and thrilling undead action, P&P&Z is a wickedly witty updated classic. Lit geeks and zombie freaks alike will agree on this one.
Serpent in the Thorns by Jeri Westerson: Author Jeri Westerson takes the classic noir detective and sets him smack dab in the middle of medieval London. A risky (and unexpected) move—but one that’s brilliantly executed.
London Boulevard by Ken Bruen: Again, a novel so unusual…so unexpected…that I couldn’t help but fall in love with it. Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard with a Guy Ritchie brand of gritty British flair, written with the most beautiful, poetic prose I read all year.
Either You’re In or You’re In the Way by Logan and Noah Miller: Two brothers take a horrible situation and turn it into nothing short of a moviemaking miracle in this engaging, inspiring, and highly entertaining real-life account. If you’ve ever wondered what goes into making a movie, don’t miss it.
The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith: Child 44 author Smith returns to a troubled Soviet Union of the ‘50s for his stunning follow-up. It’s fast-paced and thrilling—but thought-provoking, too.
Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup: Swarup, author of the book that became the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, writes a tangled and twisting tale of love, jealousy, greed, desperation, and murder. It’s a light and intriguing read.
Daniel X: Watch the Skies by James Patterson and Ned Rust: Action-packed and clever—with loads of pop culture references to keep readers engaged—the latest in Patterson’s Daniel X series is fast-paced fun for pre-teen boys. Their parents might just like it, too.
Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn: Though I have a fondness for fluffy chick lit, I really appreciate a light romance that digs a little deeper and tackles some heavier, more complicated issues. And Dunn’s Secrets to Happiness does just that—while still keeping things light and entertaining.
A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield: And, while I’m on the topic of chick lit, I’ll close my list with my favorite new character of the year: gutsy middle-aged sleuth, Stella Hardesty. Though the story’s not bad, Stella alone makes A Bad Day for Sorry worth reading.