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Topic: Top 5 Books I Read in 2009

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Subject: Top 5 Books I Read in 2009
Date Posted: 11/23/2009 1:39 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
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Maybe I'm jumping the gun a little, since it's not quite December yet, and I could end up liking another book enough to push down one of my current top 5.  I can always edit later if need be.  The top 5 books I read in 2009 are, in order:

  1. Eagle in the Snow, Wallace Breem
  2. First Man in Rome, Colleen McCullough
  3. Devil in the White City, Eric Larson
  4. Celia Garth, Gwen Bristow
  5. Sword Song, Bernard Cornwell

Honorable mention: The Greatest Knight, Elizabeth Chadwick; Katherine, Anya Seton; Nefertiti, Michelle Moran.

What are yours?

Last Edited on: 12/18/09 9:58 AM ET - Total times edited: 7
Date Posted: 11/23/2009 3:11 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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I read a lot of good ones this year, so it was hard to pick, but this is what I've decided on -

1.  When Christ and His Saints Slept, Sharon Kay Penman.  Truly outstanding! 

2.  I, Elizabeth, Rosalind Miles.  I so enjoyed the voice Ms. Miles gave to Elizabeth.

3.  Company of Liars, Karen Maitland.  Excellent book.  It really kept my interest.

4.   The Lady & The Unicorn, Tracy Chevalier.  For some reason, I just loved this book.  I really enjoyed how it was told in the first person by different characters.

5.  The Serpant's Tale, Arianna Franklin.  I had a hard time choosing between this one and Franklin's MIstress of the Art of Death, but I think I liked The Serpant's Tale just a bit more. 

Honorable Mentions were Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor and The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye

I'm surprised none of one of my favorite HF authors, Bernard Cornwell's books didn't make the list. Then again, I haven't read any Uhtred books this year.  I was so-so on Agincourt, and eh on Stonehenge.  I'm reading The Archer's Tale now, and I'm enjoying it, but it didn't make the top 5.




Last Edited on: 11/23/09 3:19 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/23/2009 3:22 PM ET
Member Since: 8/31/2007
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Ooh this is a toughie.  4 of these 5 are HF, but I'd recommend all of them.

1. City of Thieves - David Benioff (phenomenal - great WWII fiction)

2. The Space Between Us - Thrity Umritgar (heartbreaking and very moving, mostly about relationships between different castes in India)

3. The Night Birds - Thomas Maltman (beautifully told)

4. Beneath a Marble Sky - John Shors (vivid love story)

5. Mudbound - Hillary Jordan (fascinating story of 1940s Southern rural life - race relations, etc.)

ETA: Well now I just read I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis and that might shove Mudbound off the list.  It was wonderful!

Last Edited on: 12/11/09 9:20 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 11/23/2009 3:29 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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My top 5 in no particular order:

  1. Company of Liars by Karen Maitland
  2. Edward, Edward by Lolah Burford
  3. Born of the Sun by Joan Wolf
  4. Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones
  5. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
  6. Genghis: Birth of an Empire by Conn Iggulden

Edited to add a book I just finished, which I enjoyed immensely.

Last Edited on: 12/11/09 7:39 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/23/2009 3:47 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
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The Help by Kathryn Stickett
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Wesley the Owl by Stacy O'Brien
Three Little Words by Ashley Rhode-Courter

Worthy of honorable mention but not quite a top 5 place.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenberger
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 4:14 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2009
Posts: 388
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My top 5 so far, in no particular order:

1. Wheel of Fortune by Susan Howatch- for sheer readability and that "Oh my gosh, I must ignore all of my friends and put off all of my obligations b/c I simply CANNOT put this book DOWN!" factor. I had my in-laws in town while I was reading this, and I actually excused myself to take a nap one afternooon, but really I just needed an hour and a half to read!

2. The Far Pavillions by M.M. Kaye- What an epic. What a love story. And I completely felt transported to India. I didn't want it to end.

3. When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman- Thanks to Penman, I am sooo much pickier about my HF now. And that's not a bad thing! 

4. Queen of Camelot by Nancy McKenzie- It was fun to revisit the Arthur legend from Guineivere's eyes. Another very readable book that I found difficult to put down.

5. Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters- Pure laugh-out-loud fun that left me wanting MORE Amelia Peabody ASAP!

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 4:29 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
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This is hard for me too but these are my top five ( some of which are not HF):

1.Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides - a truly great historical novel!

2.Revelation by C.J. Sansom - Matthew Shardlake is great and I am hoping that there will soon be another to follow.

3.The Black Tower by Louis Bayard - Heartbreaking but very well written.

4.The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough - another great historical novel.

5. Steve and Me by Terri Irwin - Biography mostly of Steve Irwin but written in Terri's words and really inspiring.

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 4:30 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
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This is just torture -- I'm so impressed you all could keep to 5 books.  My top books:
1) The Lymond Chronicles by Dunnett (ok -- technically, this is 6 books)
2) City of Thieves by Benioff
3) The Autobiography of Henry VIII by George
4) Legacy by Kay and Devil's Brood by Penman
5) Great Expectations by Dickens (not HF) and Girl in a Blue Dress by Arnold
Honorable Mentions:
The Ha-Ha by King (not HF)
Mudbound by Jordan
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Larsson (not HF)
Stone's Fall by Pears
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman by Feynman (not HF)
A Pigeon and a Boy by Shalev
Serena by Rash
Out Stealing Horses by Petterson
Traveler by McLarty (not HF)
Lottery by Wood (not HF)
Beat the Reaper by Bazell (not HF)

Last Edited on: 10/3/14 7:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 11/23/2009 4:59 PM ET
Member Since: 3/6/2006
Posts: 3,070
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In no particular order....

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society--Mary Ann Shaffer

North River--Pete Hamill

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel--Louise Murphy

The Thirteenth Tale--Diane Setterfield

Lady Macbeth--Susan Fraser King



Date Posted: 11/23/2009 6:05 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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War and Peace - Tolstoy

The Killer Angels - Shaara

Honolulu - Brennert

All Quiet on the Western Front - Remarque

Kolyma Tales - Shalamov

Honorable Mention - City of Thieves - Benioff, Crank - Hopkins, The Day the Falls Stood Still - Buchanan, Sacred Heart - Dunant, Stalin's Ghost - Smith, Out of the Dust - Hesse, Their Eyes Were Watching God - Hurston, On the Wings of Heroes - Peck, The Walls of Cartagena - Durango.

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 7:52 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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1. Devil's Brood

2. Time and Chance- Both of these are by Sharon Kay Penman

3. Miracle at Speedy Motors Alexander McCall Smith (not H/F but part of a marvelous detective series)

4. Fire from Heaven Mary Renault

5.  Hood Stephen Lawhead

Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 11/23/2009 8:48 PM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
Posts: 42,771
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Generally I read Mysteris (cozy and historical), historical fiction, paranormal and occastionally romance. Also what ever my monthly book club is reading. So my favorites are cross genres

1. Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning - There are 4 and I am totally addicted I had to read her romance ones too they had a little background for the paranormal series.

2. Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear WW1 Setting

3. Judgement of Caesar by Steven Saylor

4. Tell Me Pretty Maiden - Rhys Bowen

5. No Graves Yet - Anne Perry


Date Posted: 11/23/2009 8:53 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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What a fabulous list of books!

Sheila, You put me to shame. War and Peace! Really? I mean I know it's a classic, but I just don't have the patience anymore to slog through these Russian novels. I remember when I used to read every Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky I could find. But not anymore.

Deb, The whole Lymond series? Wow! Great list!

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 9:25 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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Genie, no shame - my number one rule of reading is to read what you enjoy!

War and Peace for me was amazing! I read it with an online group and we did extensive research on the historical events and people in the novel. We spent about 3 months reading and discussing (and we all read other books concurrently). I love history (fiction and non-fiction) so this novel was right up my alley. I know I would not have gotten nearly as much out of the novel if I had not read it with a dedicated group. Crime and Punishment is on my list of books to read in 2010 :-)

Yes, this thread is going to make my TBR grow again.

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 10:53 PM ET
Member Since: 8/31/2007
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Yes, this thread is going to make my TBR grow again.

I know, same.

Date Posted: 11/24/2009 12:33 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
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Yes, this thread is going to make my TBR grow again.

Heh heh heh -- That's part of why I posted it: to help me identify the creamiest cream of the crop in my TBR, and what books to add to it as I have the opportunity.

Any of the Penman novels (not the mystery novellas) would make my top 5 in the year I read them.  Devil's Brood was probably the best book I read in 2008, although I didn't keep a log, so I may be forgetting something.  Killer Angels is my top historical fiction ever.   And second to John Adams by David McCullough, for all history, fiction and nonfiction. 

Last Edited on: 11/24/09 12:33 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/24/2009 1:09 AM ET
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I didn't read it this year, but I also loved War and Peace. Actually more than Anna Karenina.

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 11/24/2009 7:46 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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Well this year has been crazy and I only read a little more than 30 books. I have started atleast 6 books that i havent finished. We are taking a nice vacation in December. No visiting people (unless of course if Michelle R and I can fit in a cup of coffee/tea) and very litte sight seeing, just hanging out in the hotels indoor water park.  So I plan on reading most of the time. But, so far my top five are:

  1. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  2. A Templar Legacy by Steve Berry
  3. Rise to Rebellian by Jeff Shaara
  4. Person or Persons Unknown by Bruce Alexander (actually loved all the Sir John mysteries so far, except book 6)
  5. Mosaic Crimes by Giulio Leoni

I have some of the books in everyones lists on my TBR or Wish lists. Others sound really good and may have to be added.

Last Edited on: 11/24/09 7:47 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/24/2009 7:58 AM ET
Member Since: 12/22/2008
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Sheila, Crime and Punishment is on my Top Ten.  A great psychological suspense thriller!!  I slogged through the first 100 pages.  After that, it was unputdownable.  Enjoy.

Date Posted: 11/24/2009 8:14 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,175
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I have 8.

A Place Beyond Courage and A Time Of Singing,  Elizabeth Chadwick

Lady Of Hay,  Barbara Erskine

The Wales Trilogy, Sharon Penman

Vivaldi's Virgins,

Youngbloods,  Simon Scarrow

Date Posted: 11/24/2009 8:50 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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Oh, these "Top Books" lists are so hard for me! I agonize over my choices like it's really going to affect the world. Be back in three weeks when I've narrowed my top list down to a reasonable number. ;-)

I do know rigfht off that I'll have one book in common with Jeanne - Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides. I've never been fond of reading about the West, but Sides made it come alive like no book has before for me. I even developed a little hero worship for Kit Carson, even though he's certainly an imperfect hero. Sides showed the good, the bad, and the ugly and did it with an exciting, page turner of a book. Loved it! I've also read Sides' book "Ghost Soldier" and it was another great book. I hope he is working on another one now!

Date Posted: 11/24/2009 8:55 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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Glad to read C&P was a hit for you Valerie!

Penman . . . an author that I have yet to read but The Sunne in Splendor has been languishing on my TBR for at least 3 years (along with John Adams). I need to get Penman on my HF Challenge this year. Between this challenge and the Classic Lit one I will probably be reading at least 5 "doorstoppers" which is okay. I like a big, thick saga that draws me in. Downside is that my hands/wrists/arms get tired of holding those heavy books!

Date Posted: 11/24/2009 9:13 AM ET
Member Since: 6/16/2008
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I've reviewed every book I've read this year, so that makes it easy to remember! :P  Now that I look at the list, this was pretty much ALL the HFish stuff I read this year because I wallowed in romance & YA braincandy for quite a while.

The Bluestocking : The Story of the Famous Forrest Divorce Case by David Denman (loved it! - non-fiction, but still.... Edwin Forrest & his feisty Catherine would make a great subject for a real HF novel. The 19th century American theater world is WOEFULLY ignored!!!)

The Great Fire of London: In That Apocalyptic Year, 1666 by Neil Hanson (prepped me for next year's read of Forever Amber)

Pride of Carthage by David Anthony Durham (about Hannibal - better on the battles than McCullough, but not as good in the characterization dept. However, not a waste of time at all!)

Under Enemy Colors by S. Thomas Russell (you like Patrick O'Brien? This is great too!)

And Love and War by Sandra Worth. Kidding...KIDDING! :D

I have no #5. ;(

Last Edited on: 11/24/09 9:14 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 11/24/2009 9:35 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
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LOL  Karla, 

Date Posted: 11/24/2009 2:18 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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Narrowing down to five is difficult, especially considering that I read two other great books by Helen Hollick, and six other Bernard Cornwell novels.  But anyway, in no particular order:

   Book Thief, Markus Zusak

   The Kingmaking, Helen Hollick

   Tai Pan, James Clavell

   The Burning Land, Bernard Cornwell

   Wheel of Fortune, Susan Howatch

And I also must mention The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Guernica by Dave Boling - (honorable mentions)