I’m going to finish out the year brushing up against the 60 book mark for 2009. I’m pages away from finishing my 57th and am going to have a week of relaxation between Christmas and the New Year, so odds are good I’ll be getting some more serious reading in.

That said, unless I’m absolutely shocked by something, odds are good I’ve already read my 10 favorite books of the year and, as such, am able and ready to make my first 2009 Best Of list.

(For the complete list of titles I read this year, check out Goodreads.)

In no particular order:

  • Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin: Maupin’s entire San Francisco series belongs on the list, but the first sets the stage and introduces the players who come to feel like old friends by series’ end. I felt genuinely sad when I finished reading Michael Tolliver Lives–while I know that I’ll be revisiting these characters in the future, it was sad to know that I had reached the end of the new material. I’ve still yet to see the miniseries, so at least I have that to look forward to in 2010. Many thanks to TC and La Diabla for the series recommendation.
  • 1776, David McCullough: Both 1776 and John Adams, two books I’d long had on my reading wish list, were devoured this year. Both fascinating reads, but 1776 gets the nod because of the way it manages to nimbly handle so many complicated figures and events.
  • Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, John Lydon: Not only was John Lydon’s life during the Sex Pistols heyday interesting, he employs a wonderful literary device for telling his story. Lydon approached people who knew him over the course of his life and asks them to chime in with complete honesty. Whether he was insufferable or wonderful, these testimonials make the autobiography feel that much richer.
  • The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill: A Love Story…With Wings, Mark Bittner: I still don’t know how this book came to be in my possession, but I stumbled across it on my bookshelf one day and decided to give it a whirl. Part spiritual rumination, part research project, part memoir, it comes together to become one of the most charming books I read all year.
  • The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship, David Halberstam: The Teammates chronicles the friendship between Red Sox legends Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr and, no lie, made me tear up and want to hug everyone involved. Playful, sweet and sad.
  • (Not That You Asked): Rants, Exploits and Obsessions, Steve Almond: My friend Rachel urged me to read one of the pieces in this collection because it’s a hilarious take on when the Sox won the World Series. The entire collection, however, is brilliantly written. In my dream world, my writing would manage to have the heart, wit and humor of Almond, Sarah Vowell and the like. I’m proud to at least share the same city as the guy.
  • Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby: Nick Hornby writes about music, writing and quirky human dynamics. If that doesn’t have “Victoria Welch will love this book” written all over it, nothing does. I was able to see him read from the novel at Coolidge Corner, a night that will go down in personal history as the time I wrote one of my favorite blog posts, was able to say hello to a longtime favorite writer and learned that he loved me.
  • The Wordy Shipmates, Sarah Vowell: Speaking of favorite literary talents, Sarah Vowell rules. I’d heard that The Wordy Shipmates was much more dry than her other work. I suppose it is, to an extent, in the respect that she doesn’t break things up into the short essay approach she typically utilizes. But I absolutely loved it and was thorougly entertained. And I’m not just saying that because my copy of it remains one of the best birthday gifts I’ve ever received.
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen: Hilarious. Absolutely perfect.
  • Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, Christopher McDougall: The best book I read this year, Born to Run offers a fascinating story, vivid characters and a look at the human body that could easily appeal to even someone who hates running. As a runner, however, I found this to be an inspiring and helpful resource. I can’t describe how much I love this book. You should go read it. Now. Seriously. Get out of here and go read it already.
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