Thursday, December 27, 2018

Best Books of 2018

Lots of publications are putting out Best Books of 2018 lists.

Here's the NYTimes, for instance. I read several of these books, and while they were readable, they not only wouldn't make my list, they didn't make my list. That is, I read them, and decided not to write mini-reviews of them on my blog. For instance, The Perfect Nanny and Educated -- I read both of those. The Perfect Nanny struck me as yet another tool of the mommy wars, designed as it is to terrify mothers. And Educated, while it probably was eye-opening for some people, just seems like old news to those of us who live in Red States.

Likewise, Small Fry, also on the NYTimes list, while readable, hardly reaches 'best books' category. It's basically a tell-all about what a terrible parent Steve Jobs was. Which, wow, who would have guessed?

Frankly, after a couple of years of reading books that make the NYTimes recommended list, I'm starting to think whoever writes these lists doesn't actually like to read.

NPR's list is better, both because it allows you to sort for interest, and also because it actually has some good books on it. For instance, N. K. Jemisin's collection of short stories, How Long Til Black Future Month, and also Naomi Novik's Spinning Silver.

I've read almost nothing from this list, but I might now.

Anyway! My very own best of 2018 list. Mind you, these are just books I read (for the first time) in 2018. No doubt lots of better books are out there. And not all of these were actually published in 2018.

Helen DeWitt, The Last Samari: This is probably the best book I read this year. Highly recommended.

Laurie King, Califia's Daughters. Not published in 2018, but excellent. The dogs in this are great, if you like books with dogs in them.

Holly Black, The Cruel Prince. A portal fantasy, more or less, but really good. The sequel comes out in a few days, and I can't wait.

Charlotte Gordon, Romantic Outlaws. This looks at the life of Mary Wollstoncraft and Mary Shelley, kind of in tandem. Excellent read and an excellent book.

Carrie Vaughn, Bannerless. Y'all are going to start think I love post-apocalyptic books. Which, yeah.

Georgette Heyer, The Grand Sophy. Apparently this is the year I discovered Georgette Heyer. If you have always wished for more Jane Austen, Heyer is the writer for you.

John M. Barry, The Great Influenza. Goes into great and fascinating detail about the pandemic that killed so many people (a third of the world's population, by some estimates) in 1918.

Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni. Fantasy, but the best sort of fantasy.

The Odyssey, trans. by Emily Wilson. You haven't read the Odyssey until you've read this translation.

Meg Elison, The Book of Etta. I love, love, love Meg Elison. Another post-apocalyptic book, by the way.

Helen McDonald, H is for Hawk. A memoir about the author's life with hawks. A wonderful book.

Those are my best reads. What about all y'all? Have you read anything good?

Oh! And don't forget that this book came out in 2018!

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