It's kind of cheating to say that I've finished my first book in 2009 today, considering that I've read most of it in 2008 (actually I read 80% of it this week - the joy of longer bus rides), but, well, I'll add to the list anyway.
So, to the book: Firstborn
It's actually the third and last book of the "A Time Odyssey" series, and I thought it was the most interesting of them. Events happen in a much more exciting pace. I bought the series when I heard that Arthur C. Clarke passed away. I was in the bus going to work and bought all the books on my Kindle. Later I found out that I had already bought the hardcover version of the books... Oh, well..
It was a good series. Not Arthur C. Clarke's or Stephen Baxter's best, but quite good anyway. I'm not sure how much I can say without spoiling it for people, but the whole idea of it is this fight with a race of highly advanced beings that seem to not really care about other life forms in the universe. There is no real interaction with this race, just a struggle for the human race to keep alive.
What is next on my list? Well, I'm still reading João Ubaldo Ribeiro's "Viva o povo brasileiro", a 600+-page tome of Brazilian literature. Tough and rewarding read. It's actually interesting to read it and realize how much different it is to read works of literature in Portuguese to English. Not that I'm calling "Firstborn" a work of great literary depth - it wasn't meant to be that way. I'm not drawing the comparison to it, but to the more general English-language literature, like Richard Powers's The Time of Our Singing.
In any way, the Brazilian/Portuguese literature that I miss is much more psychological and, in many ways, metaphorical. Time goes by slowly as the author takes time on the characters' reactions to what is going on more than the event itself. Sometimes you can't even really tell what is going on as it's so small compared to the world inside the mind of the protagonist that draws relationships to other events on their lives or world events and, more disturbingly, keeps replacing the current events to things in their past in a form of "internal metaphor" that you have to keep following in order to understand the book. As I said, tough but rewarding.
And I think that's the main things I have on my list right now. I did buy Malcom Gladwell's Outliers: The Story of Success, but I'm not sure I want to read it right now. We'll see what surprises I'll find once I finish unpacking and organizing my books back onto my shelves.