[re the economy] . . . Most of these books will plummet into oblivion – but a few fine works will survive. And even as markets recover and consumer confidence returns, this publishing trend will continue: we have been reminded that we are all part of the financial world now – and that it was not terrorism but our own actions that took the economy to the precipice.
. . . The year also saw the first – less successful – forays into credit crunch fiction. We have yet to find the Dickens for our time to conjure the economic crisis as a sympathetic backdrop for a great novel. Until then, we continue to seek solace in historical fiction: book prizes were dominated by works set in the past, including Hilary Mantel’s magisterial recreation of the court of Henry VIII, winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize. In a triumph of literary fiction over the mass market, Mantel’s Wolf Hall briefly topped Amazon’s bestseller list and knocked Dan Brown’s blockbuster The Lost Symbol off the number one spot. A popular classic got a modern twist in the year’s most surprising hit, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which squeezed new blood out of Jane Austen’s work.
In non-fiction, the publishing world showed its continuing obsession with anniversaries. A flurry of books tracked the lives of Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln, born 200 years ago this year. Others tackled more recent turning points: 70 years since the second world war began; 40 from man’s first steps on the Moon; 20 since the Berlin wall fell and communism crumbled in Europe. The choice of what to read is rich, varied and confusing, but the FT’s critics will help you decide.
How can you help? Why not think about books as gifts as we celebrate the 2009 holiday season? For long lasting value a good book gives the possibility of wisdom and information, pure pleasure, increased awareness and other long lasting benefits to the recipient.
This article has fabulous best book lists of fiction, politics and religion, history, science, business and economics, food, travel, art and photography, architecture and design, music, film, sport, gifts and fashion, children, and teenagers.