My Favorite Books of 2009

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I think it’s time for a non-controversial post. It’s been important for me to write about serious things that bother me in the world, but in the spirit of new year I’m going to share with you the books I enjoyed the most in 2009.

I read some of them on my kindle, and listened to some on my iPhone. I bought some of the copies through Amazon, and got others through Yeshiva’s inter-library loan. But however I found them, the books were moving, interesting and inspirational.

So here they are (in no particular order):

A Confederacy of Dunces – This is a great novel by a young author – undiscovered until after his suicide – named John Kennedy Toole. We follow the crazy life of flatulent, disgusting and verbally abusive Ignatius J. Reilly and his cohort of wackos. It’s a very funny novel that is so quirky and unique that you won’t want to put it down. Thanks to Nava from my book club for this recommendation.

Omnivores Dilemma – If you like the idea of being scared to go grocery shopping or open your refrigerator, this is the book for you. Michael Pollan explores the impact 20th century food engineering has had on the food we put into our bodies. Finding out the sheer amount of corn that goes into our bodies through various channels was mind-blowing. This was my inspiration to stop drinking fructose-based drinks (soda, snapple, fake juices etc), and has caused me to rethink what I eat and the impact it has on my health. I have plans to check out his two recent books “In Defense of Food” and “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.” This one came from Rena – also in my book club.

Push – This was the most intense book I have read in the long time. Sapphire delivers the story of a young girl in Harlem who is overweight, undereducated, twice pregnant by her father at the age of 14, and both physically and sexually abused by her mother. It was made into a movie this past year which is how I heard about the book, and it really drove home the work that needs to be done to protect children in America. As a Social Worker, and as a caring human being, this book really moved me.

Outliers – Yet another great book from Malcolm Gladwell. His writing style is consistent and the topics he covers are always interesting. I listened to this on my iPhone, and it was like an awesome 7-hour podcast. He talks about how 10,000 hours of practice is needed to become an expert at anything, how Chinese children learn how to do math earlier, and how hockey players born in January will always have an advantage. I plan on reading “What the Dog Saw” at some point soon.

Sirens of Titan – I have really loved Vonnegut every since I read “Cat’s Cradle.” This is definitely one of the classics, and I just thought it was a very cool story about space travel, time travel and the true value of life. If you’re not crazy about sci-fi, but can handle something that defies the law of science as we know them, you might like this.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich – I read this book in one day, and it was definitely worth the time and the $11. Ramit Sethi has written the perfect book for young people to learn about personal finance and expenses. He covers all of the basics, and explains it in a super simple and straightforward manner – and he includes some great tips that even non-novices will find helpful. I know a good amount already, but I still learned plenty. Every college grad should be given this book.

Survivor: A Novel – This was my first Chuck Palahniuk novel, and it was just fast and fun and clever. It was a pure pleasure read that explored some weird ideas and even weirder people. It definitely made me interested in reading some more stuff by this guy.

On tap for next year are a few books recommended by my book club, and a couple of others I got through the NYTimes Book Review. Those include (but are not limited to): Under the Dome, Portnoy’s Complaint, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The 4-Hour Workweek: Expanded and Updated, and Bonfire of the Vanities.

If you want to follow what I’m reading (the good with the bad) checkout my online library on Shelfari.

What books did you like this past year?

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4 thoughts on “My Favorite Books of 2009

  1. Hey Aaron,

    Good post. Here are the top books I read this year:

    Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace
    2666- Roberto Bolano
    On The Road – Jack Kerouac
    White Teeth – Zadie Smith
    The Broom of the System – David Foster Wallace
    Drown – Junot Diaz
    The Stuff of Thought – Steven Pinkner

  2. I should add that right now I’m reading “Under the Dome” by Stephen King. It is 1072 pages of awesomeness. It’s the first King book I’m reading, and I can’t put it down.

    Highly recommended (as of page 594).

    -Aaron

  3. Gil

    Aaron,

    I just finished reading “The Survivors Club” by Ben Sherwood. Its about what types of people survive disasters and why. It has a very interesting chapter on the Holocaust.

    I also recently read Ayn Rand both “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead” while they may be Rush Limbaugh’s must read list – the philosophy of business and life within them is still fantastic.

    -Gil

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