Here they are, my favorite reads of 2009 (some still in progress...here's looking at you, long-winded feminist lit.) Click on the links for more thorough reviews. In no particular order:
1. Most likely to make you contemplate a radical career change: Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
2. Most likely to make you weep while intermittently Googling leaders of German Romanticism: The Blue Flower, by Penelope Fitzgerald
3. Most likely to make you think, "God DAMN!" in the manner of Mrs. Mia Wallace: Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You, by Alice Munro
4. Most likely to elicit an 11 p.m. weepy phone call from a friend or relative after completion: Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
5. Most likely to make you obsess about the consequences of First World living (and rightfully so): Collapse, by Jared Diamond
6. Most likely to make you sit in a cold park in April in order to finish it without stopping: Equus, by Peter Shaffer
7. Most likely to give you a strange sense of hope while being unemployed: Lyrical & Critical Essays, by Albert Camus
8. Most likely to leave your childish fairy stories a pile of pulverized mush, revealing someone new underneath: The Second Sex, by Simone de Beauvoir (still trucking along on this one, but almost there)
9. Most likely to reincarnate Louisa May Alcott as a bodice-ripping rebel (among other necessary transformations): A Jury of Her Peers, by Elaine Showalter (savoring this one in fits and starts - the style is well-suited for that)
10. Most likely to become the voice in your head: A tie between the recently finished There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby, by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, and Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, by Grace Paley
All reckoned, I'd say that Gilead is one of the best two pieces of fiction I've read in the past two years, the other being E.M. Forster's Howard's End. As for non-fiction, I'm already feeling shock waves from The Second Sex in my life now, and I'm still 100 pages shy of the end.
What were your favorite reads of 2009?