After months of compiling, I’m ready to call the aggregated Megalist of the best books of 2009 complete. It takes time for many important sources to weigh in, and sometimes these later sources provide a better perspective than the December lists, so I don’t finish the compilation until mid-March. For book groups, which often prefer books that have arrived in paperback, now is the time to start thinking about 2009’s bumper crop.
In the end I compiled the best of the year votes of 140 different authoritative sources into a spreadsheet containing mentions of nearly 1700 different books published in the United States during 2009. You can download the full results or a shortened honor roll in either Excel or Word format from my library’s blog. Print some of this information and taking it to your group as inspiration the next time you select titles for upcoming meetings.
The big winner was Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, which received mentions as a best book of the year from 64 different sources, a big gap of 24 votes over the nearest competition, Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs.
But this isn’t a list about one or two great books, it’s a wide-angle look at the best of an entire year. There are hundreds of books that an experienced reader loved enough to name best of the year, dozens that received over five votes, nearly a hundred that received at least ten votes. I hope you’ll take the time to look up some of the titles further down the list or follow the links on the last page of the Megalist spreadsheet to read why the reviewers and award judges loved them so much.
Finally, if your book group still only reads general literary fiction, I hope you’ll peruse the pages on the spreadsheet for other genres and nonfiction subjects. There are big vote-getters in every category, yet another indication that there are works worthy of discussion in every area of the library or bookstore. Don’t make the mistake of limiting your group’s horizons!