With various publications making their "Best Of" lists for the year, I thought I'd do one of my own. I'm listing both new works that came out this year, as well as works that are older that I just discovered.
Best New Poetry Collection: All Night Lingo Tango by Barbara Hamby. I stumbled on "Who Do Mambo" online and ordered this collection 20 minutes later. The rest of the work is so excellent that I'm turning a few lines into a tattoo next month.
Best Poet I Discovered This Year: Barbara Hamby
Best New Novel: Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult. I had not actually heard of Picoult before this year; amazing, considering that she's fairly prolific, writes bestsellers, and her works discuss important social issues. But I did not know about any of her novels until I read about Handle With Care in a magazine. I was immediately drawn in by the premise of a wrongful birth lawsuit, and checked it out from the library as soon as I could get my hands on it. I finished Handle With Care n in three days! I've read close to half of Picoult's novels since then.
Best Novel I Discovered This Year: I really can't give a definitive answer; I have to list two: Affinity by Sarah Waters and American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. Sarah Waters is my favorite author I discovered this year, and Affinity is by far the best of her two books I have read so far. It was stunning; I procrastinated on so many projects to read it, and the ending blew me away. I also procrastinated a great deal to read American Wife. I loved the way Sittenfeld blended fact and fiction; I loved how authentic her character's voice sounded.
Best New Nonfiction Book: Actually, I didn't read any nonfiction that came out in 2009. Oops.
Best Nonfiction Work I Discovered This Year: Worshipping Walt: The Whitman Disciples by Michael Robertson. I happened upon this book while meandering around the public library. A lifelong Whitman fan, I checked it out and read it immediately. This book chronicles people in the United States, Canada, and Britian who viewed Whitman as a sort of religious figure, and Leaves of Grass as gospel. A fascinating read.