Saturday, December 29, 2018
My top ten books for 2018
I've simply listed my favorite reads, including books that were not first published last year. Also controversially, I have actually waited until most of my reading for 2018 was concluded, rather than posting my "best" list weeks before the end of the year.
For each, I've listed the title, author, and year of publication, with a brief note.
1. The Powers of the Earth, Travis Corcoran. 2017. A science fiction novel set on the Moon. It won the Prometheus Award, and it was so good, I was sure it was going to win.
2. The R.A. Lafferty Fantastic MEGAPACK, R.A. Lafferty. 2016. Very early stories, and I wondered if the editing criteria was, "These are public domain stories we don't have to pay for." No matter; many of Lafferty's best stories were the early ones, and this is a great collection. Under $1 for the ebook.
3. The Overstory, Richard Powers. 2018. Who knew you could write a great novel about trees?
4. The Saracen: Land of the Infidel, and The Holy War, Robert Shea. 1989. Very good historical novels set in medieval Italy.
5. Watling Street, John Higgs. 2017. Really good work on English history (and modern weirdness) that will interest many Robert Anton Wilson fans.
6. The Most Dangerous Man in America: Timothy Leary, Richard Nixon and the Hunt for the Fugitive King of LSD, Bill Minutaglio, Steven L. Davis. 2018. Come for the fast paced narrative, stay to learn about Leary, still a fascinating figure, and Nixon, arguably worse than Trump.
7. 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed, Eric H. Cline. 2014. The end of "globalized" Bronze Age civilization.
8. Daemon and Freedom (two titles), Daniel Suarez. 2006, 2010. Not sure I agree with all of the author's opinions, but you won't read a better thriller.
9. Chasing Eris, Brenton Clutterbuck. 2018. Could have used some editing, but the sheer work Brenton put into surveying the modern Discordian scene was simply awesome.
10. Cosmic Trigger 2: Down to Earth, Robert Anton Wilson. 1991. A re-read, of course. A nonfiction memoir that manages to read like a novel, and a good exploration of many ideas. One of his best.
I also liked, among others, Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov, which also belongs in the Top Ten but I think was covered by the reading group; All the Beautiful Lies, Peter Swanson; The Night of the Gun, David Carr, and The Will to Battle, Ada Palmer.