What I Read in 2009

I shamefacedly produce my list of sixty books, thanks to some reading for reviews, articles, and my M.A. thesis. I won’t be forced to plow through enormous books of theology or philosophy in one sitting this year, so fifty-two books will in fact be a bit challenging.

I’m always surprised how much more nonfiction I read than I think I do. However, I am a very bad poetry reader – something I’m trying to remedy. Do you read poetry? How exactly do you go about doing it? Whole bunches at a time? One or two poems a day until the book is done?


Unveiling – Suzanne Wolfe
A Gate at the Stairs – Lorrie Moore
The Forecast – Caroline Ferdinandsen
Light Boxes – Shane Jones
Netherland – Joseph O’Neill
Johnny Hiro – Fred Chao
Play It As It Lays – Joan Didion
The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
Swann’s Way – Marcel Proust
Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
The Brooklyn Follies – Paul Auster
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Díaz
Another Faust – Daniel Nayeri
The American Painter Emma Dial – Samantha Peale
The Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri
Silence – Shusaku Endo
A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway
Lush Life – Richard Price
The Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
The Road – Cormac McCarthy
The Wild Things – Dave Eggers

Memoir & Journals
A Homemade Life – Molly Wizenberg
The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food – Judith Jones
Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1964 – Susan Sontag
Lit – Mary Karr
The Red Leather Diary – Lily Koppel
Girl Meets God – Lauren F. Winner

Thesis Research
On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art – James Elkins
Art and the Bible – Francis Schaeffer
Art in Action: Toward a Christian Aesthetic – Nicholas Wolterstorff
Rainbows for the Fallen World – Calvin Seerveld
God in the Gallery: A Christian Embrace of Modern Art – Daniel A. Siedell
Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical – Hannah Faith Notess (ed.)
Not That Kind of Girl – Carlene Bauer
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami

Surprised by Hope – N.T.Wright
The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection – Robert Farrar Capon
An Altar in the World – Barbara Brown Taylor
Mudhouse Sabbath – Lauren F. Winner
Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church – James K.A. Smith
The Strategic Smorgasbord of Postmodernity: Literature and the Christian Critic – Deborah Bowen
Real Love for Real Life – Andi Ashworth

Other Essays and Nonfiction
How to Read a Book – Mortimer J. Adler
Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays – Zadie Smith
Through a Screen Darkly – Jeffrey Overstreet
The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry – Kathleen Flinn
Nuts & Bolts: A Practical Guide to Teaching College Composition – Thomas Newkirk
The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers – Cathleen Falsani
The Wordy Shipmates – Sarah Vowell
Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York – Luc Sante
Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life As a Christian Calling – James W. Sire
What the Best College Teachers Do – Ken Bain
The Well-Educated Mind – Susan Wise Bauer
Real Sex – Lauren F. Winner
Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There – David Brooks
Up in the Old Hotel – Joseph Mitchell
Random Family – Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life – Barbara Kingsolver

7 thoughts on “What I Read in 2009

  1. Pingback: Books from last year

  2. To answer your question about poetry: I’ve always read massive chunks at a time. If I’m really into a poet, I usually can’t put the book down and might read the whole thing in one sitting, then flip back periodically. But I went to grad school for poetry (hanging my head because I haven’t read or written any in over a year), so I was used to ingesting a lot. If I’m trying to write a poem, though, and I’m stuck, I’ll read just until the muse hits. That might only be a few lines.

  3. Wow, was that three Lauren Winner books? Love her.

    Also, what was your thesis? Those look fantastic!

    Poetry.. I read big chunks at a time, if it’s Neruda or Billy Collins. I just can’t stop turrning the pages. If it’s anybody else, I read one or two at a time.

  4. My poetry reading is desultory – I’ll wander through someone’s collected poets and end up reading 5 or 6 that have interesting titles and which aren’t too long. When I do read a book of poems straight through, like Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (first edition – not too long!), I become adjusted to the poet’s voice, and it’s as though the poems come into clearer focus.

  5. I tend to read just a few poems at a time – but then I never finish books of poetry. Unless it’s Billy Collins – I can’t seem to stop once I start reading his poems.

    I’m trying to read more poetry this year, too – and some of your 2009 books are definitely on my 2010 list.

  6. I used to read much more poetry than I do currently, sadly. I usually would read a few before bed. I notice all the Lauren Winner too. Enjoyed her writing a few years ago when I read through her books. I hope she comes out with a new title in the near future!

  7. Yes, all three of those! I hadn’t read Girl Meets God because, well, as a rule I tend to avoid books like that. But then I heard her speak at the Jubilee conference and was duly impressed. I read Mudhouse Sabbath, then Girl Meets God.

    Then, she was at the Glen Workshop this August, and on the way there I read Real Sex.

    I’m taking her spiritual writing workshop at The Glen this summer. 🙂

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