This year I just barely made my reading goal (but finished the 700 page slog Insomnia on January 1, 2019) but also didn’t need to rush or do any change of habits to get it finished. Over the course of the year I finished 75 books, giving 13 of them five stars. I continued reading the Hugo and Nebula award winners, presidential biographies, Stephen King’s bibliography, and finished up long term series like Richard Sharpe and Repairman Jack. Last year I picked a top 5 books, but there were so many good ones this year I feel like I need to pick 10:
Honorable mentions: Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke, Nightworld by F. Paul Wilson, and Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier by Mark Frost.
10. The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov – A really original science fiction story, told in three time periods and across two dimensions.
9. Secret Vengeance by F. Paul Wilson – The best of the Repairman Jack prequel novels, this one features an ongoing fix involving another student’s locker that was exactly why I hoped for in a book like this.
8. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara – I finally got around to reading my wife’s favorite book and (no surprise) it was excellent historical fiction.
7. True Evil by Greg Iles – The first book since Pet Sematary to get under my skin and actively freak me out while reading it.
6. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami – Magical gateways, cats who can speak and possible incest, all in small town Japan.
5. Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea and the Origin of Deep Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith – Fascinating non-fiction about the most alien brain system on planet Earth.
4. Solaris by Stanislaw Lem – I loved the movie (Tarkovsky’s version) and this book did the rare feat of enhancing my enjoyment of the film while also being wonderful on its own as a novel.
3. Grant by Ron Chernow – A few years ago, Chernow’s Washington: a Life was my favorite book of the year. His Grant biography was just as excellent about one of the most fascinating and underrated individuals in U.S. history.
2. The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy – One of two books on this list recommended to me by coworkers (the other was True Evil), Conroy’s book was intense with high stakes for the characters but simultaneously felt like a memoir of true events from the author’s youth.
1. Invincible Vol. 25 by Robert Kirkman – The culmination of one of my favorite series, Kirkman nailed the landing and managed to keep the series from ever growing stale. The shared art by Ryan Ottley and Cory Walker similarly maintained excellent quality, never dropping off.
Worst books I read this year – Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (even after I really liked The Fountainhead) and The Number of the Beast by Robert Heinlein (by far the worst book by one of my favorite authors