Reads · Reviews

2018 in Review

Good day, friends! I hope you had a great Christmas/holiday/New Year’s. Now that 2018 is over, I wanted to take a look at everything I read this year. What did I love? What did I hate? Let’s find out!

I’ve decided that in the sake of fairness I’m not going to include any Wheel of Time books because they would dominate this list and that wouldn’t be very interesting. Just know that I read 4 REALLY GOOD WoT books this year!

Top Five Books

You know what? I read a lot of really really good stuff this year. It was a little hard to nail down 5 of the best. Here they are in no particular order:

  1. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin – This book was a little bitter sweet for me because Ursula died about a week after I finished it. I think it hurt a lot more because I’d just read one of her best works. This book was incredible. It takes a look at gender, friendship, and love from a wholly different perspective. It was beautiful, gripping, sad, and at times hopeful. If you haven’t read it, put it on your TBR for this year.
  2. Anathem by Neal Stephenson – Stephenson is one of those authors who probably doesn’t have the capacity to ever let me down. His writing just blows me away. His worlds are so enormous, complicated, and beautifully rendered that I remember them like a childhood home long after I’ve moved to another city. It’s like he wrote this book for me. As you guys know I love a book with a big library. If you throw in some scholarly monks I’m all for it, and this book was exactly that. Stephenson’s world changes so much over the course of the book, taking us from a sort of post war techno-phobic society to… well, I won’t spoil it. Don’t let the book’s heft scare you. You’ll be wanting another 800 pages once you’re done.
  3. Dune Messiah – I almost left this book off because, like Wheel of Time, any book set in the Dune universe is a favorite from the first word. I do want to talk about this one though because it’s so different than the first book. This is a deep exploration into the politics of the universe after Muad’Dib’s rise to power. It is a tragedy befitting Shakespeare, a beautiful and tragic look at power, political sabotage, and destiny.
  4. The Library at Mount Char – Holy hell, this book was a wild ride. As promised by the title, this book features a huge library run by either a god or the God. Here, he raises several orphans, teaching them language, war, healing, and more. This book has a tone and atmosphere that is completely unique to the story. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read. There’s a kind of tainted, mystical feel to it. It’s unsettling and suspenseful and I was completely enamored from the first page.
  5. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – This was actually my last book of the year. I’d heard great things about this story for months and finally picked it up on sale. This book is a beautiful and powerful fairy tale of a girl who grows up to be something more. She is wild and independent and deeply loyal, and I absolutely loved her. I think she makes the story, and if she’d been any different it wouldn’t have been such an incredible book. Even if you’re not interested in Russian folklore, definitely pick this one up. Better yet, it’s a three book series with the third and final installment releasing at the end of this month.

Best Book

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch – This is another one of those books that I kept hearing about and then finally picked up on sale. When Patrick Rothfuss released The Name of the Wind, many compared him to Scott Lynch, and it’s easy to see why. These two authors share the same love, not just for writing, but for the power and possibilities of language. Lynch’s prose is poetic, sweeping, and subtle. His prose has the kind of humor you get when an author does things for his or her own amusement, if that makes any sense. His characters are so real and so easy to love, and the plot of this book was such a wild ride. I couldn’t put this story down and I’ve recommended it to everyone I know. It’s just magical.

Bottom Five Books

  1. milk and honey by Rupi Kaur – This poetry collection is exactly why I’m not a huge fan of contemporary poetry. The format of each poem is recycled and predictable. The subject matter is tries to be deep and meaningful but fails miserably. I left this book feeling kind of insulted, to be honest with you. If you’re going pick up the torch and speak for women everywhere, don’t give me this phoned in BS.
  2. It Devours! By Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor – This was okay. I love Welcome to Nightvale and hoped this would have the same deadpan humor but it was really predictable and not really worth the time spent reading it.
  3. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt – This was just boring. I almost DNF’d it. I know they’re coming out with a movie and I think the story will work great as a film but it just wasn’t enough as a book.
  4. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty – Yawn. I preordered this book like an idiot. It was not like her other books, which are usually hard to put down. The plot was really boring and pretty predictable, and she failed to convey the sense of danger needed in the climax of the story. The characters, however, were really well done and I liked reading about them.
  5. Noir by Christopher Moore – Man, when I was in college I LOVED Moore. He really is an incredibly funny writer, and Lamb will always be one of my favorite books of all time. This one was funny but other than that I don’t really remember much of it. I think he needs a supernatural element to carry his humor and this didn’t have it.

Worst Book

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer – I don’t know what I was expecting. I heard pretty mixed reviews about this book, and the bad reviews were really really bad. But none of them prepared me for this reading experience. The first quarter of the book was really interesting. I actually wanted to know what was happening and why. But then it took a turn for the worst and became some sort of confusing try hard edgy BS. “Ohhhh my book is so deep most won’t understand it! Ooooooh maybe if you buy the rest of the series you’ll get it. Ooooh you don’t get it what a simpleton.” says Jeff. Piss off, Jeff. I want my two hours back. What a pile of garbage.

Most Disappointing

All Systems Red by Martha Wells – I heard REALLY good things about this book. Patrick Rothfuss loved it. Everyone said it was hilarious and a really enjoyable read. Boo! No! It was awful! The main character, Murderbot (really) is nothing special despite everyone loving her. The plot was boring and predictable. I don’t think I laughed once. I went into it thinking I would really love this book and I just hated it. Thank god it was short.

Overall a great reading year! I read a lot of amazing books, and only a small handful disappointed me. I’m excited to see what this year has in store!

Here’s a kitty collage.

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