Books Read in 2009


I always have a dull, painful feeling that I'm never doing enough. Like many people, I labour under the burdensome thought that I am extraordinarily lazy, and that most other people in the world are achieving more than me. Nowhere is this sense of unease more acute than in the area of reading. You see, I pride myself on being the bookish sort, on being a well-read man. But I always worry that I'm really not devoting enough of my time to good old-fashioned reading.
Which is why, a couple of years ago, I began to keep a list of what I read every year. I don't mean what I almost finished, or what I picked up and consulted in the name of research or idleness. No, I mean a list of books I sat down and read, in the old-fashioned sense of the word. Every sentence, every chapter, from beginning to end.
The results of these lists surprised me. If you had asked me how many books I actually finish in a year before I would have said, "Oh, 10 or 12." But year after year the list has been pretty consistent, showing somewhere between 50 and 60 books read and finished, and sometimes even enjoyed, in the course of 12 months.
Not surprisingly, those books I actually finished tended to be lighter fare than what I was supposed to be reading, and they normally demonstrate a careful determination to stay away from anything that is actually necessary to my life, work and research. When it comes to necessity, I'm afraid I am a skimmer - it was ever thus, alas, hence my lack of depth.
But here is the list of some of the books I read, in whole, in 2009. Not the whole list, because that would be a bore, and potentially embarrassing:

1. The Spare Room by Helen Garner
2. The Boat by Nam Le
3. Helping Me Help Myself by Beth Lisick
4. The Healing Wisdom of Dr. P. P. Quimby by Mason A. Clarke
5. Atomised by Michel Houellebecq
6. The Call of the Weird by Louis Theroux
7. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
8. What Would Barbra Do? by Emma Brockes
9. Excuses Begone by Wayne Dyer
10. The Elder Brother by Gregory Tillett
11. Londonistan by Melanie Phillips
12. Self-Help Nation by Tom Tiede
13. Doris Day by David Bret
14. Nothing is Too Good to be True by John Randolph Price
15. You Can Do It by Paul Hanna
16. Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson
17. Discover Your Power-Packed Consciousness by Magda Neeld
18. Writing Creative Non-Fiction by Theodore A. Rees Cheney
19. Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
20. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
21. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

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