2009 Year in Books
Despite the siren call of bad reality TV, celebrity blogs, and my own writing ventures, I did manage to get some reading done this year. Not as much as I would have liked, but I blame that on a 6-month binge on The Lord of the Rings. I’ve linked to reviews, where applicable, and included some of my favorite quotes.
1. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. Fantasy.
“Still round the corner there may wait / A new road or a secret gate / And though I oft have passed them by, / A day will come at last when I / Shall take the hidden paths that run / West of the Moon, East of the Sun.”
2. The Dalemark Quartet by Diana Wynne Jones. Fantasy.
This particular set of novels (consisting of Cart & Cwidder, Drowned Ammet, The Spellcoats, and The Crown of Dalemark) spans several hundreds of years and takes place in the fictional country of Dalemark (which seems to be heavily based on Wales, DWJ’s homeland), which has been beset by political and magical strife.
3. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. Fantasy.
“In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league books and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three.”
“You’re a dreadfully nosy, horribly bossy, appallingly clean old woman. Control yourself. You’re victimizing us all.”
4. Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones. Fantasy.
“Cat Chant admired his elder sister Gwendolen. She was a witch. He admired her and he clung to her. Great changes came about in their lives and left him no one else to cling to.”
5. The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones. Fantasy.
“Marianne Pinhoe and her brother, Joe, walked reluctantly up the steep main street of Ulverscote. They had been summoned by Gammer Pinhoe. . . . You did not disobey Gammer’s commands.”
6. Conrad’s Fate by Diana Wynne Jones. Fantasy.
“They woke us up at dawn. We got used to this in the end, but that first morning was awful. We had to put on aprons and go around with a big basket collecting shoes to be cleaned, from the attics downward. . . . We had to stagger down to the undercroft with the lot, where we were very relieved to discover that they employed someone else to clean them all.”
7. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb. Mystery.
“Someone was looking at me, a disturbing sensation if you’re dead.”
“Perhaps I couldn’t tickle the inside of his ear, but I could reach the mysterious curves of his mind.”
8. Flight Volume 5 edited by Kazu Kibuishi. Comics anthology.
“We took some x-rays while you were unconscious . . . . And we’d just like to know what the hell this miniature glasses are doing inside your brain.” (From “Worry Dolls” by JP Ahonen.)
“The train is leaving. People are saying goodbye on the platform. One girl’s saying goodbye to her boyfriend. Hey, there’s another beside her, too. . . . Right up till departure, I watch them, imagining they’re saying goodbye to the same guy.”
10. Chiaroscuro: Patchwork by Troy Little. Comics.
“There is nothing so truly terrifying as unlimited potential.”
11. Atonement by Ian McEwan. Literary fiction.
“There was a crime. But there were also the lovers. Lovers and their happy ends have been on my mind all night long.”
12. Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa (Vol. 1-21). Comics.
“They say science is a lost cause, but I think its better than sitting around praying and waiting for something to happen. For that matter, the elements found in a human being… is all junk that you can buy in any market on a child’s allowance. Humans are pretty cheaply made.”
13. Moonwalk by Michael Jackson. Biography.
“The price of fame can be a heavy one. Is the price you pay worth it?”
14. Dancing the Dream by Michael Jackson. Poetry.
“People ask me how I make music. I tell them I just step into it. It’s like stepping into a river and joining the flow. Every moment in the river has its song. So I stay in the moment and listen. What I hear is never the same.” (From “How I Make Music.”)
15. The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. Writing.
“Trust the path . . . . It means that when you are lost and confused, you can trust the journey that you have chosen, or that has chosen you. It means others have been on the journey before you, the writer’s journey, the storyteller’s journey. You’re not the first, you’re not the last.”
16. The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Writing/philosophy.
“The modern hero, the modern individual who dares to heed the call and seek the mansion of that presence with whom it is our whole destiny to be atoned, cannot, indeed, must not, wait for his community to cast off its slough of pride, fear, rationalized avarice, and sanctified understanding. ‘Live,’ Nietzsche says, ‘as though the day were here.’ It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal—carries the cross of the redeemer—not in the bright moments of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.”
17. The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene. Science/cosmology.
“Physicists spend a large amount of their time in a state of confusion. It’s an occupational hazard. To excel in physics is to embrace doubt while walking the winding road to clarity.”
18. The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. Science/environmental.
“One day—long after we’re gone, unbearably lonely for the beautiful world from which we so foolishly banished ourselves—we, or our memories, might surf home aboard a cosmic electromagnetic wave to haunt our beloved Earth.”