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.