Tina Jordan
November 12, 2009 AT 07:37 PM EST

It’s getting to be that time of year—the time for Best and Worst lists—and as I mull over EW’s, I’m thinking back over everything I’ve read since January.

It’s going to be a tough year to pick. On the nonfiction side, I loved Blake Bailey’s wonderful Cheever book, which, as I’ve said before, redefined  biography for me. I could not get enough of the essays in A New Literary History of America. Almost a year after I read it, The Mercy Papers—Robin Romm’s searing account of her mother’s final three weeks—remains imprinted on my brain. There was the Dave Eggers book, Zeitoun; Andre Agassi’s memoir, Open; Dave Cullen’s Columbine; and the third volume of Mary Karr’s memoirs, Lit. Oh, and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided: How The Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.

In fiction, I loved Daniyeel Mueenuddin’s exquisite Pakistan-centered short stories, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders and the latest Pete Dexter novel, Spooner. I could not put down Alice Munro’s latest book of short stories, Too Much Happiness. I bought a dozen copies of Jonathan Tropper’s dysfunctional family drama This Is Where I Leave You to give to friends and family. I was mesmerized by David Small’s graphic novel Stitches. And I still think about Stephanie Kallos’ Sing Them Home, Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin, J. Courtney Sullivan’s Commencement and Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

How about you, Shelf Life readers? What are your favorite books of the year?

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