Top Ten Books of 2009

Much like my list of songs from last week, these books might not all be from 2009.  They are, however, from within the past year or two.  As I also mentioned earlier, I haven’t had a chance to read King’s Under the Dome or Simmons’ Drood.  Had I, I would expect them to be near the top.

Feel free to leave a comment with anything you think I might have missed.  I want to hear what you’re enjoying.

1. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.  Sometimes a book just hits you like a club and knocks you flat on your back.  Gillian Flynn’s debut novel did that to me.  What I thought was going to be a pretty standard mystery ended up being something a whole lot weirder and a whole lot darker.  This was one of the two books I read this year that changed the way I approach writing.

2. The Terror by Dan Simmons.  Simmons’ fictional account of the real life tragedy that befell the HMS Terror as it searched for the Northwest Passage is the kind of story nightmares are made of.  Richly detailed and full of wonderful characters, The Terror is the kind of book that only comes around once in a great while.  One of the most rewarding reading experiences I’ve ever encountered.

3. Audrey’s Door by Sarah Langan. Two years after The Missing blew my mind, Sarah Langan returns to do it all over again.  Audrey is an architect with a history of mental problems, so when she moves into an apartment building with a history of driving its tenants mad, bad things are bound to happen.  As Audrey starts dreaming about a door, however, things quickly spiral out of control.  One of the best thrillers I’ve ever read.

4. The Little Sleep by Paul Tremblay. Paul Tremblay bursts on the scene with this disturbing and hilarious story of a narcoleptic private eye tasked with finding a reality show celeb’s stolen hands.  Or is that really the case?  Tremblay’s prose crackles and keeps you turning the pages.  I can’t wait to see what he does next.

5. Hellbound Hearts by various.  This anthology of short stories based on Clive Barker’s Hellraiser mythos is a cover-to-cover slab of excellent fiction.  Standout pieces by Tim Lebbon, Sarah Langan, and Conrad Williams are only a few of the highlights.

6. The Shotgun Rule by Charlie Huston.  Four boys break into a house in order to retrieve a stolen bike.  Instead, they find a meth lab.  What follows is an exploration of fractured innocence and terror.  Every single time you think Charlie Huston can’t make things worse for these characters, he just goes right ahead and does it.  An incredibly powerful book.

7. The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa.  The three novellas in this book may not look like horror stories at first.  That’s because Yoko Ogawa finds the horror in everyday life and sets it to simmer.  When it finally boils over, it will leave you breathless.  Wonderful writing from beginning to end.

8. Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse by Victor Gischler. And in this corner we have some good old fashioned fun.  Gischler tells the story of a man forced out of his cabin years after an apocalypse to both look for his wife and find some means of survival in the world.  Full of maniacs, strip clubs, liquor, and a train powered by steroid-hulking freaks, this one’s a roller coaster of thrills and laughs.

9. ZOO by Otsuichi.  A strange hybrid of a novel and a short story collection, ZOO is chock full of stories most minds would never even imagine.  A man receives a new picture of his dead girlfriend every day so he can watch her decompose.  Another man builds a house from the bodies of the people he kills.  There’s a lot of incredible–and incredibly twisted–stuff here, and it just amazed me.

10. Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters by John Langan.  John Langan writes stories that would fit in any era.  His rather classical style reads like a breath of fresh air.  This collection is full of fun stories.  There are mummies, a skeleton, and an apocalypse unlike anything you’ve ever seen.  On top of it all is John Langan’s prose, a wonderful, smooth style that I hope we see a lot more of soon.

 

2 thoughts on “Top Ten Books of 2009

  1. Hi, Nate –

    If you liked SHARP OBJECTS, be sure to grab DARK PLACES, Flynn’s 2nd novel. That will be on my top ten list for this year. I also loved THE SHOTGUN RULE and AUDREY’S DOOR, too.

    Martel

  2. I’ve had DARK PLACES on my shelf for at least a month. Just haven’t had a chance to dive into it.

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