Here at Blogging for a Good Book, we don’t skimp. When it came to recapping last year’s best, we could have given you a list based on the small sampling of last year’s output that we actually read, but that didn’t just feel right. Instead, we broke out our handy spreadsheet and started counting votes from as many authoritative Best of 2009 lists as we could find. The result is available for download and sorting in Excel format. Here it is: a many-voiced look at the best of 2009.
The spreadsheet has tabs for general fiction; mystery and thriller fiction; speculative fiction; historical fiction; romance fiction; young adult fiction; poetry; graphic works; nonfiction; biographies and memoirs; and how-to, art, and cookbooks. We construe genres broadly, so if you don’t find a favorite in general fiction, then try one of the genre categories. Each list is sorted by number of votes, then alphabetically by title. While we count votes from several international sources, only works first published in the U.S. in 2009 were tabulated. In nonfiction, Dewey call numbers at WRL are listed for the books that our library currently owns. The last tab on the spreadsheet lists and links to sources used to compile the votes.
The aggregation is not yet finished as we add more sources and wait for a few more of the awards to be announced. Our thanks to Largehearted Boy, whose long list of online Best of 2009 lists made one step of building our big spreadsheet easier. Basically, we’re up to the letter N in his lists, so there are many more votes to come before we’re finished. To date though, the list aggregates 74 different best of 2009 lists, where 1262 different titles have received votes as the Best of 2009!
We’re far enough into the count to identify some early favorites:
Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is the top vote getter, with mentions on 29 different lists so far. In fiction, Alice Munro’s Too Much Happiness: Stories received 20 votes to date. This was followed by Suzanne Collins YA SF/adventure sequel Catching Fire (18), A. S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book (17), Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs (17), and Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood (16). One vote further back are The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Love and Summer, by William Trevor.
In nonfiction, the top vote getter so far is Stitches: A Memoir, the graphic memoir by David Small, with 22 votes. This is followed by Dave Eggers’ tale of Hurricane Katrina victim Zeitoun (14 votes to date), David Finkel’s The Good Soldiers (13), Dave Cullen’s Columbine (12), David Grann’s The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon (12), Blake Bailey’s biography Cheever: A Life (12). One vote behind are Mary Karr’s Lit: A Memoir, Tracy Kidder’s Strength in What Remains, and Richard Holmes’ Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science.
But these books are just the tip of the iceberg in this magnificent aggregated list. Best-of lists will always favor certain kinds of works and books that have been publicized well, so sort down a little farther to find more gems. Please, check back: We’ll continue to update the spreadsheet once a week until we’ve counted as many votes from major best-of lists and awards as we can find!
To suggest a best-of list for consideration in the aggregation or to notify us of a mistake, post a comment below or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy!