I read more books in 2009 than any other year on record (which pretty much means since circa 1989). A grand total of 30 if you include the Wolverine graphic novel. What's more the books I read were generally really good. I've been focusing on reading classics or highly recommended literature and it's paying dividends.
1. "The Old Man & The Sea" Ernest Hemingway - My first Hemingway and a brilliant starter. I've recently rediscovered the joys of the library and thought I'd give this a go as I knew I could read it quickly. It's a subtle and straightforward story about an old fisher man who goes out in search of that one big catch. No doubt there are lots of metaphors and hidden messages that I haven't fully appreciated but it works on every level. Brilliant writing and a great story.
2. "The Man In The High Castle" Philip K. Dick - I picked this up from, of all places, our Doctors waiting room. They've a small table with second hand books for whatever you feel they're worth. Normally it's just you're regular Airport blockbusters but I always have a quick peek. I'm a pretty big fan of PKD and have read quite a few of his best known books but this hadn't entered my radar. The cover looked interesting (I generally find that judging books by their covers works remarkably well) so I thought it was worth a punt at 50p. And so it turned out. A brilliant story about what might have been had the Nazi's won the second world war, one of the best PKD books I've read.
3. "Treasure Island" Robert Louis Stevenson - The second RLS book to make my top five in two years. This is full of every pirate cliche you'll have ever heard but that's mainly because this is the source of the cliches. It's a proper boys own adventure that still hits the spot some 130 years on.
4. "Fight Club" Chuck Palahniuk - I've read two Palahniuk books this year. "Diary" was my first having picked up a copy from someone at work. Having enjoyed that I thought I ought to try the book that brought him to my attention in the first place and wasn't disappointed. If I hadn't seen the film, and therefore, known the twist at the end I think this would have claimed the number one spot. It's excellent writing none the less and may still turn out to be one of my all time favourite books.
5. "Rendezvous with Rama" Arthur C. Clarke - I've not read any A.C. Clarke for a very long time and only picked this up because a mate at work was selling off some old books for charity. It's old fashioned Science Fiction but is as good an example of the genre as you're likely to find. The story sucks you in and won't let you go until you've reached the end. Proof that for all ACC's scientific foresight he still knew how to write a ripping yarn.