The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon - This guy Hemon, the Bosnian writer who lives in Chicago and only started writing in English after he moved to the US? Man, is he talented. This is a remarkable double narrative, telling two stories that happen 100 years apart but intertwine in a truly artful way that illuminates both story lines. Great book. I probably suggested this book to more people than any other I read in 2009.
Netherland by Joseph O'Neill - Beautifully written book, with just a great premise: After 9/11, in a time when we are more vulnerable than we've ever been, and more unsure of ourselves and our place in the world than ever, how do we go about fashioning our identity? What does it mean to be an American, or a citizen, or a friend? Very moving. Plus, I'll never think of cricket the same way again.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson - Yep, I'm going with the masses on this one. On literary merit, no but sometimes a great plot and fast pacing is just what you need, and this book delivers the goods. Plus, the eponymous "girl" of the title is a great character. I like reading mystery/thrillers like this occasionally because they seem like such an escape from my daily life, but rarely do I stumble upon one that has me changing my schedule so I can find more time to read it. And yes, I will read the sequels.
Greg Netzer is the Executive Director of Wordstock. He also has access to chocolate on a regular basis.