04 December 2009

Best Book of 2009

I read. A lot.

Let me put this in perspective for you-- I saw a woman on one of the news shows who was being interviewed for doing a blog on reading a book-a-day, and I thought, "yeah, and??"

I've always read a lot. When I was younger, I'd start devouring books before I even got home from the library. I would stay up until 2 or 3 or 4 in the morning to finish a book if it was compelling enough.

It's really no surprise that I eventually gave up the notion of being a lawyer and decided to study literature for a living. Once I started college, books got harder-- Faulkner, Morrison, Joyce, Woolf, Heller, Pynchon. The weirder, the better. I reveled in the difficulty of crazy modernist and post-modernist works. I tried to go back to Grisham, and I couldn't. It just didn't seem worth my time.

Then I picked up Twilight (no-- that's not the book of the year) sometime in 2008. Then a friend recommended Outlander.* And, between the two of those series, I remembered why I liked reading. I had been doing it so long for my work, and I had been reading so many wonderful "important" things, that I forgot that reading could just be fun.

After the great job market collapse of 2008, all I wanted to read was a happy ending. I was tired of reading about "isn't it pretty to think so," and wanted to read that someone got what they wanted and deserved. So, I started devouring romance novels.

I've never been the romance novel type-- but for the last year, I couldn't get enough of them. I've read hundreds of them, literally. I was reading one during labor to distract myself. If I think about it too much, I realize it probably verges on either pathetic or obsessive, but I don't watch much TV. Or, at least that's how I excuse it.

So the best book of 2009? Heck if I know. I do know that all of those fabulous, unheralded romance writers kept me sane this year, as I was suffering through morning sickness, dealing with pregnancy, and mourning a career that's a non-starter.

I used to look down on Romance, as a genre. It seemed too fluffy and "girly." (Heaven forbid!) But now I see it for something more. The women who write romance, and who do it well are masters of style-- they may never make it into the annals of literary history, but they're my pick for this year.

*If you have not yet read this go directly to your local library or bookstore and commence reading. As in now. It's fabulous and you will thank me for it later.

1 comment:

Juicy White Thigh said...

You know, I've also developed a genuine appreciation for romance novels over the last year, and some of the authors you mention are among my absolute faves (Lisa Kleypas, Mary Balogh, Eloisa James). Thanks for recognizing these writers' skillz!

(This is Sarah from UIUC, by the way. I couldn't remember my Google account ID info to save my life.) :)