The Great Book Loot of 2009

I buy more books than clothes, thanks mostly to very limited closet space. And although I updated my fashion haul this year, raiding book stores still remained my de facto activity on shopping weekends in spite of the great book blockade annoyance of 2009. Here are my favorite books for the year that was:

  • Open: An Autobiography (Andre Agassi) – The only male winner of tennis Golden Slam (all four majors and one Olympic gold medal) shares his struggles and triumphs in the sport he hated, his depression and fall in the rankings, and how it all came together for him as he completed his career grand slam and finally met the woman of his dreams in this controversial but wonderful retelling of the story of one of tennis’ greatest and most colorful players. Freebies for Federer fans: Agassi has only good words for the reigning GOAT.
  • The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) – Not your ordinary young adult fiction, The Hunger Games is about the brutal tradition of sending youths to an annual tournament where victory is achieved through merciless killing of all other participants.
  • Outliers: The Story of Success (Malcolm Gladwell) – The central idea for this book is that successful people do not reach their potential by themselves. Instead, Gladwell argues that success is often a result of a combination of right timing, help from family and community, and thousands of hours of preparation. In fact, to be truly primed for success, a person should have logged in at least 10,000 hours of preparation or practice in the field of their specialization, whether it is in technology, sports, or music. Moreover, a person’s cultural background and family history plays a great role in one’s success, which makes you realize that your background may either be a help or a hurdle towards reaching your potential.
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffeneger) – This might as well have been titled The Time Traveler, as it is mostly about the chrono-impaired man who jumps from one period to another within the span of his and his wife’s lifetime. He meets her first when she is 9 and last when she is 80; he only lives to his early forties.
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson) – I’m still reading this tome, a chocful of compressed bits of information about how the universe and the earth came to be, and how the forces that shaped the cosmos for millions of years allowed you to be here in the first place.
  • The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follet) – This is just a runner up, but for those who wish to have an idea of how those majestic cathedrals that date back to the medieval times were built, and how their builders went about their business of…well, building…this book is a good place to start.