Best Books of 2009: The Complete List

Use the list below to browse NPR's Best Books of 2009 recommendations. Each critic's list is presented separately. Click on a book title to read an excerpt. Click on the article names (in parentheses) to read our critic's comments about the books.


Conquest of the Useless by Werner Herzog, Hardcover, 306 pages, Ecco Books/Harper Collins Press, list price: $24.99

Asterios Polyp,edited by David Mazzucchelli, Hardcover, 344 pages, Pantheon, list price: $24.99

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, by Lydia Davis, Hardcover, 733 pages, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, list price: $30

The Supergirls, by Mike Madrid, Paperback, Exterminating Angel Press, list price: $16.95

Everything Matters!, by Ron Currie Jr., Hardcover, 302 pages, Viking/Penguin, list price: $25.95


Norman Rockwell: Behind The Camera, by Ron Schick, Hardcover, 224 pages, Little, Brown, and Co., list price: $40

The TOON Treasury of Classic Children's Comics, edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, Hardcover, 352 pages, Abrams ComicArts, list price: $40

A New Literary History of America edited by Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors, Hardcover, 1128 pages, Harvard University Press, list price: $49.95

Painting Today, edited by Tony Godfrey, Hardcover, 448 pages, Phaidon Press, list price: $75

The Sartorialist by Scott Schuman, Paperback, 512 pages, Penguin, list price: $25

Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life, by Charley Harper and Todd Oldham, Hardcover, 424 pages, AMMO Books, list price: $49.95

The TOON Treasury of Classic Children's Comics, edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, Hardcover, 352 pages, Abrams ComicArts, list price: $40

Science: The Definitive Visual Guide, by Adam Hart-Davis, Hardcover, 512 pages, DK Adult, list price: $50

Photo-wisdom: Master Photographers And Their Art, by Lewis Blackwell, Hardcover, 216 pages, Chronicle Books, list price: $50

Q&A's from Vanity Fair's Proust Questionnaire by Graydon Carter, Illustrated by Risko, Hardcover, 224 pages, Rodale Books, list price: $23.99

Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans edited by Sarah Greenough, Hardcover, 528 pages, Steidl, list price: $75


Recommended by Daniel Goldin

The Hour Between, by Sebastian Stuart, paperback, 260 pages, Alyson Books, list price: $14.95

Await Your Reply, by Dan Chaon, Hardcover, 324 pages, Ballantine Books, list price: $25

Little Bee, by Chris Cleave, Hardcover, 288 pages, Simon & Schuster, list price: $24

Blame, by Michelle Huneven, Hardcover, 304 pages, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, list price: $25

Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life, by Carol Sklenicka, Hardcover, 592 pages, Scribner, list price: $35

Recommended by Rona Brinlee

Bad Things Happen, by Harry Dolan, Hardcover, 352 pages, Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, list price: $24.95

Going Away Shoes, by Jill McCorkle, Hardcover, 272 pages, Algonquin Books, list price: $19.95

Logicomix: An Epic Search For Truth, by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou, Art by Alecos Papadatos and Annie DiDonna, Hardcover, 352 pages, Boolmsbury USA, list price: $22.95

This Is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper, Hardcover, 352 pages, Dutton Adult, list price: $25.95

The Tree That Time Built, selected by Mary Ann Hoberman and Linda Winston, illustrated by Barbara Fortin, Hardcover, 224 pages, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, list price: $19.99

Recommended by Lucia Silva

The Paris Review Interviews edited by Philip Gourevitch, Paperback, 1982 pages, Picador, list price: $65

Vanity Fair's Proust Questionnaire, edited by Graydon Carter, illustrated by Risko, Hardcover, 224 pages, Rodale Books, list price: $23.99

The Pattern In The Carpet: A Personal History With Jigsaws, by Margaret Drabble, Hardcover, 368 pages, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, list price: $25

The Contact Sheet, edited by Steve Crist, Hardcover, 192 pages, AMMO Books, list price: $39.95

Wallace Stevens: Selected Poems, by Wallace Stevens, edited by John N. Serio, Hardcover, 352, Knopf, list price: $30


The Pleasures of Cooking for One by Judith Jones, Hardcover, 288 pages, Knopf, list price: $27.95

Asian Dumplings: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More, by Andrea Nguyen, Hardcover, 240 pages, Ten Speed Press, list price: $30

Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source with More Than 200 Recipes for a Healthy and Sustainable You by Terry Walters, Hardcover, 304 pages, Sterling Epicure, list price: $30

Gourmet Today: More Than 1000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen, by Ruth Reichl, Hardcover, 1024 pages, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, list price: $40

Stir: Mixing It Up In The Italian Tradition by Barbara Lynch, Hardcover, 352 pages, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, list price: $35

Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking, by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, Hardcover, 384 pages, Chronicle Books, list price: $50

Savory Baking by Mary Cech, Paperback, 168 pages, Chronicle Books, list price: $24.95

Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day, by Peter Reinhart, Hardcover, 224 pages, Ten Speed Press, list price: $30

The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox, Hardcover, 256 pages, Clarkson Potter, list price: $35

Rose's Heavenly Cakes, by Rose Levy Beranbaum, Hardcover, 512 pages, Wiley, list price: $39.95


American Fantastic Tales edited by Peter Straub, Hardcover, 1500 pages, Library of America, list price: $70

Becoming Americans: Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing, edited by Ilan Stavans, Hardcover, 850 pages, Library of America, list price: $40

The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard by J.G. Ballard, Hardcover, 1216 pages, W.W. Norton & Co., list price: $35

Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son, by Michael Chabon, Hardcover, 320 pages, Harper, list price: $25.99

City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and '70s by Edmund White, Hardcover, 304 pages, Bloomsbury USA, list price: $26

Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, Illustrated by John Lawrence, Hardcover, 272 pages, Candlewick, list price: $24.99


Season of Ash: A Novel In Three Acts, by Jorge Volpi (Translated from Spanish by Alfred Mac Adam), Paperback, 464 pages, Open Letter, list price: $15.95

There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby, by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya (Translated from Russian by Keith Gessen and Anna Summers), Paperback, 224 pages, Penguin, list price: $15

The Armies, by Evelio Rosero (Translated from Spanish by Anne McLean), Paperback, 208 pages, New Directions, list price: $14.95

The Confessions of Noa Weber, by Gail Hareven (Translated from Hebrew by Dalya Bilu), Paperback, 330 pages, Melville House, list price: $16.95

The Twin, by Gerbrand Bakker (Translated from Dutch by David Colmer), Hardcover, 250 pages, Archipelago, list price: $25


Charles And Emma: The Darwin's Leap Of Faith, by Deborah Heiligman, Hardcover, 272 pages, Henry Holt and Co., list price: $18.95

Lips Touch: Three Times, by Laini Taylor, Illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo, Hardcover, 272 pages, Scholastic Press, list price: $17.99

The Lost Conspiracy, by Francis Hardinge, 576 pages, HarperCollins Children's Books, list price: $16.99

Marcelo In The Real World, by Francisco X, Stork, Hardcover, 320 pages, Scholastic Press, list price: $17.99

When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead, Hardcover, 208 pages, Random House, list price: $15.99


Spooner, by Peter Dexter, Hardcover, 480 pages, Grand Central Publishing, list price: $26.99

When Wanders Cease To Roam: A Traveler's Journal Of Staying put, by Vivian Swift, Hardcover, 208 pages, Bloomsbury USA, list price: $20

The Good Soldiers, by David Finkel, Hardcover, 304 pages, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, list price: $26

Liar, by Justine Larbalestier, Hardcover, 384 pages, Bloomsbury USA, list price: $16.99

Going Bovine, by Libba Bray, Hardcover, 496 pages, Delacorte, list price: $17.99

In The Town All Year 'Round,by Rotraut Susanne Berner, Hardcover, 72 pages, Chronicle Books, list price: $16.99

Bubble Trouble, by Margaret Mahy, Hardcover, 32 pages, Clarion Books, list price: $16

Travels In A Thin Country: A Journey Through Chile, by Sara Wheeler, Paperback, 336 pages, Modern Library, list price: $13.95


Stitches, by David Small, Hardcover, 331 pages, W. W. Norton, list price: $24. 95

Somewhere Towards The End, by Diana Athill, Hardcover, 183 pages, W. W. Norton, list price: $24.95

Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, And The Last Days Of WASP Splendor, by Tad Friend, Hardcover, 349 pages, Little, Brown, and Co., list price: $24.99

Camus, A Romance, by Elizabeth Hawes, Hardcover, 313 pages, Grove, list price: $25

The Slippery Year: A Meditation On Happily Ever After, by Melanie Gideon, Hardcover, 209 pages, Knopf, list price: $24.95


Cutting For Stone, by Abraham Verghese, Hardcover, 560 pages, Knopf, list price: $26.95

The Interrogative Mood: A Novel?, by Padgett Powell, Hardcover, 176 pages, Ecco, list price: $21.99

Too Much Happiness, by Alice Munro, Hardcover, 320 pages, Knopf, list price: $25.95

A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick, Hardcover, 291 pages, Algonquin Books, list price: $23.95

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, by Daniyal Mueenuddin, Hardcover, 256 pages, W. W. Norton & Co., list price: $23.95


Farm City: The Education Of An Urban Farmer, by Novella Carpenter, Hardcover, 288 pages, Penguin Press, list price: $25.95

The American Meadow Garden: Creating A Natural Alternative To The Traditional Lawn, by John Greenlee, Hardcover, 280 pages, Timber Press, list price: $34.95

Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia Of Organic Gardening: The Indispensable Green Resource For Every Gardener, by Fern Marshall Bradley, Barbara Ellis, and Ellen Phillips, Paperback, 720 pages, Rodale Books, list price: $24.99

Bulb, by Anna Pavord, Hardcover, 544 pages, Mitchell Beazley, list price: $39.99

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother And Other Botanical Atoricities, by Amy Stewart, Illustrated by Briony Morrow-Cribbs, Hardcover, 223 pages, Algonquin Books, list price: $18.95


Once The Shore, by Paul Yoon, Paperback, 224 pages, Sarabande Books, list price: $15.95

Tinkers, by Paul Harding, Paperback, 192 pages, Bellevue Literary Press, list price: $14.95

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, by Daniyal Mueenuddin, Hardcover, 256 pages, W.W. Norton & Co., list price: $23.95

An Elegy For Easterly: Stories, by Petina Gappah, Hardcover, 240 pages, Faber and Faber, list price: $23

Censoring An Iranian Love Story, by Shahriar Mandanipour, Hardcover, 304 pages, Knopf, list price: $25


The Old Man And Me, by Elaine Dundy, Paperback, 248 pages, NYRB Classics, list price: $15.95

The Flying Troutmans: A Novel, by Miriam Toews, Paperback, 256 pages, Coutnerpoint, list price: $14.95

Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life And Language In The Amazonian Jungle, by Daniel Everett, Hardcover, 304 pages, Pantheon, list price: $26.95

American Nerd: The Story Of My People, by Benjamin Nugent, Hardcover, 240 pages, Scribner, list price: $20

How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read, by Pierre Bayard, Hardcover, 208 pages, Bloomsbury USA, list price: $19.95

Geneology Of Morals, by Friedrich Nietzsche, Paperback, 136 pages, Richer Resources Publications, list price: $13.95


The Woman Behind The New Deal, by Kirstin Downey, Hardcover, 458 pages, Doubleday, list price: $35

Fordlandia: The Rise And Fall Of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City, by Greg Grandin, Hardcover, 432 pages, Metropolitan Books, list price: $27.50

Dancing In The Dark, by Morris Dickstein, Hardcover, 624 pages, W.W. Norton & Co., list price: $29.95

Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story, by Isabel Gillies, Hardcover, 272 pages, Scribner, list price: $25

The James Deans, by Reed Farrell Coleman, Paperback, 280 pages, Busted Flush Press, LLC, list price: $14

The Believers, by Zoe Heller, Hardcover, 335 pages, HarperCollins, list price: $25.99

A Gate At The Stairs, by Lorrie Moore, Hardcover, 336 pages, Knopf, list price: $25.95

Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin, Hardcover, 272 pages, Simon & Schuster, list price: $25

The Man In The Wooden Hat, by Jane Gardam, Paperback, 240 pages, Europa Editions, list price: $15

The Financial Lives Of The Poets, by Jess Walter, Hardcover, 304 pages, Harper, list price: $25.99


American Original: The Life And Constitution Of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, by Joan Biskupic, Hardcover, 343 pages, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, list price: $28

The Good Soldiers, by David Finkel, Hardcover, 287 pages, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $26

Strength In What Remains, by Tracy Kidder, Hardcover, 277 pages, Random House, list price; $26

The Healing Of America: A Global Quest For Better, Cheaper, And Fairer Health Care, by T.R. Reid, Hardcover, 277 pages, Penguin Press, list price: $25.95

When Everything Changed: The Amazing Story Of American Women From 1960 To The Present, by Gail Collins, Hardcover, 471 pages, Little, Brown, And Co., list price: $27.99


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