My goal this past year was to read 36 books by the end of December. Where I ended up, however, was 80 books. That’s more books than I’ve read in a long time. I made a careful list of what I wanted to read for maybe the first 35 books, but after that I just read whatever seemed interesting. Now, most of the books, by the nature of the word, were average. Some, though not many, were truly awful. But a few were utterly brilliant. These were my favorite books that I read in 2018, in no particular order.
Fledgling by Octavia Butler
This book is not going to be for everybody. It deals with pedophilia and consent. It’s a (gasp!) vampire book. But it is so imaginative and deep, dealing with very important issues of racism and terrorism, among other things. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
I read this book because of all the hype, and was completely shocked and amazed when it lived up to it. In my experience, that is something that rarely happens. But it’s a spectacular heist novel, exciting from the very beginning to the very end. I highly recommend it.
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
This is the sequel to Six of Crows. Not only is it deserving of the first book, it may even be better. In any case, it was a totally satisfying conclusion.
American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett
This is a fine example of new weird. I loved it. Just the right amount of gross, which is a hard balance to strike.
My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by Amos Tutuola
This book is nuts. And very sexist (written in the ‘70s and in Africa). But it’s so fun I couldn’t put it down.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Ugh. Nadsat is brilliant. I thought a whole novel of it would be tiring, but it isn’t. Alex is such an intriguing (and awful) character, I could listen to him speak forever.
Railsea by China Mieville
This book is just fun. Period.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Tyler speaks to my soul. While I don’t support toxic masculinity (and Tyler is without a doubt toxic), I believe it is the fault of the very system against which he rails.
House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski
This book was very interesting. A lot of it was dry, but that’s exactly what it was meant to be, as a satire of academic criticism. This is not a book I would ever reread, but I’m glad I read it once. It is truly unique.
And the best book I read:
Kindred by Octavia Butler
It handles all Octavia Butler’s favorite issues: slavery, freedom, consent, resistance. It was the first book of hers I read, and I’m glad I started here (though they are all brilliantly written). Five enthusiastic stars.