My Previous Best Books: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008.
I read 37 books last year. I attribute the increase due to my current project, which has me on an airplane pretty regularly, reading some genre fiction.
My favorite non-fiction book from last year was Tube: The Invention of Television. I've always had a fascination for television, and how it works. This was my first book on the history of TV, and it was fascinating. I did follow up this book with Defining Vision (Joel Brinkley), which provided a recent history on the "invention" of high-definition television.
Honorable non-fiction mentions: God Is Not Great (Christopher Hichens), Three Weeks in October (Charles Moose), Fatal Vision (Joe McGinniss). (The last two got me started on the "true crime" genre.)
My favorite fiction book from last year is between The Dying Earth (Jack Vance) and The Blue Hour (T. Jefferson Parker).
I've already written about why The Dying Earth captured my imagination. The Blue Hour is your basic police procedural. The detective in charge is a woman named Merci Rayborn. She's assigned a new partner, Tim Hess, and they have to investigate a string of grisly crime scenes and abductions. I really enjoyed the characters in this book. Merci jumps off the page as a law enforcer with a too-gruff personality. Tim's just perfect as the old cop who mentors her. I felt swept up in this basic cops-chasing-bad-guys book.
Honorable fiction mentions: Shoedog (George Pelecanos), The Assistants (Robin Lynn Williams), Diary of a Mad Old Man (Junichiro Tanizaki), The Enemy (Lee Child). (The last one was recommended to me by my youngest brother, and it starts me off on the Jack Reacher series.)