Top 10 reads of 2018

Bick

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I had a good look and can't find this year's thread for us to list our favourite reads of the year. We used to do this every year, so I figured I'd put this up again and see who salutes. In order that I read them, my favourite 10 novels of the year are (perhaps):

C. J. Cherryh - Foreigner
H. Rider Haggard - King Solomon's Mines
Charles Dickens - Hard Times
Andrzej Sapkowski - The Last Wish
Nevil Shute - A Town Like Alice
John Scalzi - The Ghost Brigades
Penelope Fitzgerald - Offshore
Frank Herbert - Dune
Gene Wolfe - Shadow of the Torturer
Terry Patchett -
Sourcery

Most read authors: Pratchett (5), Scalzi (4), Sapkowski (3), Cherryh (3).

I usually add my book count too... this year I read 44 books, up from last year (a low mark of 33) but shy of my highest year (54 in 2016).

How about you? What are your favourites of 2018? Least favourites too, if you like, but I don't do that. :)
 

kythe

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My favorite books this year:

A River In Darkness - Masaji Ishikawa
This book is an autobiography of a man with duel Japanese/Korean heritage, and how he escaped North Korea after living there for decades. His story educated me on the history of the Korean war and what life can really be like in that area of the world. Because this is a true story, I would call this book my most influential read this year.

Notable books I will likely reread:

American Gods - Neil Gaiman
The Goddess Project/Empyreus Proof - Bryan Wigmore


Other books I enjoyed:

Pet Sematary - Stephen King
The Shining - Stephen King
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
The Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling
The Waters and the Wild - Jo Zebedee
Inish Carraig - Jo Zebedee


Honorable mentions - I reread two books which have been long-time favorites:

A Wrinkle in Time series - Madeleine L'Engle
The Cybernetic Brains - Raymond F. Jones
 

Brian G Turner

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My most enjoyable novels from 2018 (most recent first):

The Grey Bastards - Jonathan French
The Eagle and the Raven - Pauline Gedge
Ninefox Gambit - Yoon Ha Lee
The Emyreus Proof - Bryan Wigmore
Master of War - David Gilman
Cordelia's Honor - Lois McMaster Bujold
Osiris - Ralph Kern
Lustrum - Robert Harris
Rome's Sacred Flame - Robert Fabbri
The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

I read 48 books, totalling just under 21,000 pages according to Goodreads.
 
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Fried Egg

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Blimey, my reading patterns have changed so much over the last few years that I find it hard to put together a top ten. Partly because I'm reading less than I used to and partly because I am re-reading a lot more too (ten years ago I wasn't re-reading at all).

Far and away the best new (to me) book I read this year was "The Secret of Ventriloquism" by John Padgett.

Also very good was:

"Aurora" by Kim Stanley Robinson
"
Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales" by Christopher Slatsky
"
Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson
"Dark Matter" by Blake Crouch
"Senlin Ascends" by Josiah Bancroft

As indicated above though, I've also really enjoyed re-reading some old favourites:

"The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson
"Lost Worlds" by Clark Ashton Smith (only some of the stories)
"1984" by George Orwell
"A Science Fiction Omnibus" (edited) by Brian Aldiss (only some of the stories)
"Intrusions" by Robert Aickman (only some of the stories)

My biggest disappointment for a new (to me) book this year was "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad. And the most disappointing re-read (because I loved it so much the first time) was: "The Vanishing Tower" by Michael Moorcock. I re-read most of the Elric novels but that was the biggest disappointment.
 

Extollager

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I hope Bick, the original poster, will pardon me if I don't attempt to list my Top Ten exactly. It would be hard to make the call as regards which was my favorite book, etc. Instead I will list ten books I esteemed from among the approximately 70 books I read this year. (NB Some of those books were short, e.g. Dickens's A Christmas Carol, etc. I read a number of children's books.). These are first readings unless otherwise noted. The numbers are there for convenience only, not as indications of relative merit.

1.Martyn Skinner, The Return of Arthur

“An ‘Easy to Read’ Modern Arthurian Epic” by Dale Nelson

2.Fyodor Dostoevsky, Demons

This novel is one the literary works that relates most closely to the time in which we live, as is The Brothers Karamazov. This was my 7th reading of Demons / The Possessed.

3.Margaret Kennedy, The Feast

This book was a real discovery, a 1950 novel about a mixed bag of people at Pendizack Manor Hotel, formerly a private residence, built beneath seaside cliffs. The Feast would have been a perfect choice for filming as a 1980s British TV adaptation. Then Americans could have seen it on Masterpiece Theatre. It’s cleverly plotted and displays an amused attention to social class distinctions and anxieties, evokes a particular period (post-war British austerity) and place (North Cornwall), and entertains with lively characters. Very highly recommended.

4.Phyllis Paul, Rox Hall Illuminated

Phyllis Paul: Twice Lost, Pulled Down, Invisible Darkness, A Little Treachery, more

5.R. C. Hutchinson, Testament

Testament by R.C. Hutchinson

Hutchinson was new to me, and I anticipate reading more of his novels.

6.Walter J. C. Murray, Copsford

Wormwoodiana: Copsford - Walter J C Murray

7.Walter de la Mare, Early One Morning in the Spring

I haven't finished this thick book on the subject of childhood, which combines the author-editor's reflections with generous selections from other authors, ranging from the famous to the little-known (e.g. young Marjory Fleming*). De la Mare's book is excellent late-night reading, and I'm glad that I have, on hand, other compendia by him: Behold, This Dreamer!; Love; Desert Islands -- also his anthology Come Hither.


8.Clare Kipps, Sold for a Farthing

Sold for a Farthing by Clare Kipps

9.Ross Douthat, To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism

10.Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici

A second reading of this once-standard classic. I anticipate reading a lot of Browne in 2019, now that I have a thick new Oxford paperback of his writings (my earlier Browne book suffering from loose pages and the gnawing of a rabbit.




*
A convenient modern edition is Marjory’s Book: The Complete Journals, Letters and Poems of a Young Girl, ed. by Barbara McLean (Mercat Press, 1999). Herewith a few samples. From the journals:

“I am now going to tell you about the horrible and wret[ched] plaege that my multiplication gives me you cant concieve it -- the most Devilish thing is 8 times 8 & 7 times 7 it is what nature itselfe cant endure

“To Day I bronounced a word which should never come out of a ladys lips it was that I called John a Impudent Bitch and [Isabella] afterwards told me that I should never say it even in joke [....]

“I am going to tell you of a malancholy story A young Turkie [turkey] of 2 or 3 month Old would you believe it the father broak its leg & he kiled another I think he should be transported or hanged;
Will the sarvent has buried the Turkie & put a tomeston & written this is in memory of the young Turke”

And, from a letter:

“I now sit down on my botom to answer all your kind and beloved letters which you was so good as to write to me. This is the first time I ever wrote a letter in my Life. […] Miss Potune a lady of my acquaintance praises me dreadfully. […] This horrid fat Simpliton says that my Aunt is beautifull which is intirely impossible for that is not her nature.”
 

Parson

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Oh Man, I don't think I can make such a list. I read most of my books through Kindle Unlimited and no longer have the books to remind me what I've read this year. I would estimate I read somewhere in the vicinity of 55-70 books. I'm sure it was more than one a week, but how much more I don't know. A couple of them that stand out (and at my age standing out for more than a few days means that they must have been really, really, good.)

Octavia E. Butler's Xenogenesis Trilogy --- not new, but made me wonder how I'd missed it earlier.
Andre Norton Cat's Eye --- A re-read from app. 60 years ago. Still very good.
Laurence E. Dahmer's Ell Donsaii and Bonesetter series re-read most of the Ell Donsaii series and read Bonesetter series. (Probably the best SF author no one has heard about.)
But the book I enjoyed most this year was David Weber's Uncompromising Honor. It was a throwback to the style of the old Honor Harrington stories and wrapped up the decades long series.
 

Parson

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LAURENCE E. DAHNERS
yeah! Nice unnoticed typo on my part. I was reading from a thumb nail and didn't see it well. But I also think that I have mostly said it wrong from the beginning.
 

Av Demeisen

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My favourite genre fiction that was first published in 2018 in alphabetical order:
  • One More Kill by Matt Hughes
  • Rosewater by Tade Thompson (actually a reissue on a wider scale)
  • The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts
  • The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch
  • The Quantum Magician by Derek Künsken
 

Bick

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My favourite genre fiction that was first published in 2018 in alphabetical order:
  • One More Kill by Matt Hughes
  • Rosewater by Tade Thompson (actually a reissue on a wider scale)
  • The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts
  • The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch
  • The Quantum Magician by Derek Künsken
Thanks - the thread is for books read in 2018, not necessarily published during the year. Of course that doesn’t preclude your selection.
 

Av Demeisen

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Thanks - the thread is for books read in 2018, not necessarily published during the year. Of course that doesn’t preclude your selection.
I would have to put some more thought into a list including stuff published earlier. Another thing is I read more non-fiction than fiction this year.
 

williamjm

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I'd say top spot clearly goes to N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy, all of which I read this year (I'm going to count it as one entry in a top 10). The first book in particular was superb with a fascinating and original world, a story that was compelling from the prologue and three plotlines that are told in very different ways and have different tones but which all compliment each other. She even managed to make a third of the book being written in second-person perspective work surprisingly well. The other two books in the trilogy were also very good.

In second I'd put Max Gladstone's Ruin of Angels. I really enjoyed the first five books in the Craft Cycle but I think this is probably the best so far. It's a very different world to the typical epic fantasy setting, and I particularly like this book's setting with the two cities awkwardly sharing the same physical location due to the aftermath of a magical war. It's also an interesting mix of real-world parallels (often they're not exactly subtle) and more obvious fantasy plotlines. I thought the plot was probably the most compelling of any of the books in the series so far, and I thought both the new and returning characters were interesting.

There's quite a bit of competition for third spot, but I'll go for Naomi Novik's Spinning Silver. Retold fairy tales seem to be very fashionable at the moment, I think I like this best out of the various stories in that subgenre I've read recently. I found the story interesting even before the fantasy elements started to be introduced. I thought Miryem was an interesting protagonist and the characterisation was good throughout, with even most of the characters who interesting seem to be antagonists getting some interesting character development (with one exception who ends up being the main villain of the story). The portions of the story in the Staryk realm had a very effective wintry atmosphere, I slightly regret I didn't read it while there was snow falling outside.

Rest of top 10:

Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin

The Invasion by Peadar O’Guilin

Good Omens : The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

The Hyena and the Hawk by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch

Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton
 

Paul_C

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According to the monthly Chrons threads I read 26 books this year (38 last year) plus a few short stories, and abandoned 4 books, which is very rare for me.

Top 10, in no particular order:

The Fifth Season
The Obelisk Gate
The Stone Sky
Autonomous
Roadside Picnic
Raven Stratagem
Revenant Gun
Authority
Acceptance
Howl's Moving Castle
 

Rodders

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With one thing or another, I probably didn’t read them books in 2018.

I read Neal Asher’s Transforation series, though. They blew me away and were easily my favourite reads for quite some time.
 

The Big Peat

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Oh Man, I don't think I can make such a list. I read most of my books through Kindle Unlimited and no longer have the books to remind me what I've read this year. I would estimate I read somewhere in the vicinity of 55-70 books. I'm sure it was more than one a week, but how much more I don't know.
This is why I love Goodreads. It does the remembering so I don't have to.
 

kythe

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For the last few years, I've kept a notebook of lists of books I've read. There are two books I read decades ago where I don't remember the title or author but the stories stuck with me. This helps ensure that won't happen again. Lists generally help me organize my thoughts.
 

Hugh

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My most significant read of the year was Tolkien’s Silmarillion, much of which I read through gritted teeth, but this opened out whole avenues of curiosity and led me on to reading well over forty books about, by, and linked to Tolkien (some of them admittedly pretty slight) before progressing to a re-read of the LOTR. In this process I particularly enjoyed The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, and Hammond & Scull’s J.R.R. Tolkien, Artist and Illustrator. I thought The Annotated Hobbit was truly wonderful.

The other books that I savoured most seem to include a number of re-reads:

Julie Phillips “James Tiptree Jr: the Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon”

Brian Turner “Gathering”

Philip Pullman “Northern Lights” (re-read)

Leonora Carrington “The Hearing Trumpet (re-read)

Jack Vance: “The Dragon Masters” (re-read)

Paul Theroux “Deep South”


Bill Porter “South of the Yangtze”
 

Extollager

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For the last few years, I've kept a notebook of lists of books I've read. There are two books I read decades ago where I don't remember the title or author but the stories stuck with me. This helps ensure that won't happen again. Lists generally help me organize my thoughts.
Forty-five years ago, I began to list the books I read. That was a time when hardly anyone had a computer. Eventually I created a computer file with information from my handwritten lists. I still keep those, and update the machine-searchable electronic file every so often. It stands at the moment at 51,672 words. It's proven to be useful in a variety of ways, personally and as a (now retired) teacher, etc.

I've generally recorded the dates when I read the book, the author's last name, the title, whether it was fiction or nonfiction, if it was something I read to my wife or to one or more of my four children, and whether it was a first reading or a rereading. I haven't written plot summaries, critical comments, etc. as a rule.

I've thought about recording -- if I remember -- whether the book was one I owned or had checked out from a library, etc., but haven't done that.
 

Extollager

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My most significant read of the year was Tolkien’s Silmarillion, much of which I read through gritted teeth, but this opened out whole avenues of curiosity and led me on to reading well over forty books about, by, and linked to Tolkien (some of them admittedly pretty slight) before progressing to a re-read of the LOTR. In this process I particularly enjoyed The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, and Hammond & Scull’s J.R.R. Tolkien, Artist and Illustrator. I thought The Annotated Hobbit was truly wonderful.
That's a really interesting project, and perhaps you'd like to post some observations & reflections on it in a new thread over at the Tolkien forum ... ?
 

thaddeus6th

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Having the memory of a baked potato, I had to skim my own blog entries to compile a list. As I was doing that anyway, I linked reviews to the titles. There's a majority in the first few months of the year, due to Christmas presents and gift card spending.

Sword of Destiny, by Andrzej Sapkowski
The second (I think) Witcher book. I like the grim and gritty world, and the Eastern European inspiration is something that's pretty novel to me.

Stalin: the Court of the Red Tsar, by Simon Sebag Montefiore
This is bloody grim in large places, a cross between 1984 and Animal Farm (perhaps unsurprisingly as the far left were the 'inspiration' behind those Orwellian worlds). It filled in a lot of blanks I had about a regime every bit as wretched as the Nazis but bizarrely underrepresented in popular culture, both with dramas and documentaries. It's not a nice book but I strongly recommend it.

Silent Heroes, by Evelyn le Chene
It's a book about heroic animals in war (as you might expect, not all of them made it). It's still a great read, though, even if you might feel inadequate when you read about a certain dog that was a parachuting member of the SAS.

Medea and Other Plays, by Euripides
I first read these a long old time ago. More into history than literature by some way, but these are fantastically emotive plays that work with timeless themes (sexual jealousy, the bitterness of divorce, vengeance, and that's just in the first of four plays).

Musashi, by Eiji Yoshikawa
Another re-read. Maybe as much as two decades had passed since my initial reading and I had vague memories of liking it but finding it heavy weather at times. This time, I just thought it was fantastic and read it relatively quickly despite its large size (just under a thousand pages). Very well-written, cunningly interwoven story arcs of numerous interesting characters, and a great book.

Red Sister, by Mark Lawrence
I'll be honest, I only bought this as it was on sale. Well, that and the fact I'd like the Thorns series. As it happens, I liked it a lot. If you liked Prince of Thorns etc, this should be up your street. Follows Nona, a violent young lady who becomes a nun in a world where nuns are often rather poisonous and violent.

The Time Traveller's Guide to Restoration Britain, by Ian Mortimer
I've read the other two books in the series, and this is the same approach with a drastically different time period. Science explodes onto the scene whilst people still believe in witchcraft, the postal system really gets going, clocks are invented, street lighting comes on, and the majority are still poor and some live in literally medieval conditions. Enthralling, as always.

Angel's Knight, by AJ Grimmelhaus
The trilogy's final part so I can't say too much, but I enjoyed the series and the world-building behind it (mixing, perhaps, elements of a mostly fantastical world and a sci-fi one). The Angelwar series is well worth a look.

The Norman Conquest, by Marc Morris
I got this in a sale, and it may be the best £3 I ever spent. A fantastic book that covers both the preceding period, painting a good picture of England pre-1066, the invasion itself, and the subsequent years (including the rather brutal Harrowing/Harrying of the North). Top notch history.

The Fears of Henry IV, by Ian Mortimer
This begins almost as a dual biography of Richard II and Henry IV, two men of roughly the same age, roughly the same prestige, and utterly different characters. Henry IV is a fascinating chap, much harder to pigeonhole than some monarchs, and I was utterly ignorant (beforehand) of both his and Richard's reigns. Another great history.

Kill Them All, by Sean McGlynn
A cheery title, this is about the Albigensian Crusade which took place in the early 13th century in Languedoc (southern France) where the Cathar heresy was proving popular. An unhealthy cocktail of power politics and papal desire to crush heresy led to a war that was pretty brutal even by medieval standards, and features a surprisingly large number of men called Raymond (honestly, practically all the counts are called Raymond). A grim but engaging history.

Those of you who have been paying attention will notice I've listed 11. Or, 10, in base 11.
 
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