Books I Read in 2018

The start of a new year, the end of an old. In total, I read roughly 49 fiction novels, graphic novels, or comic book volumes last year, along with 19 nonfiction titles.

Stark – The Man with the Getaway Face
Stark – The Hunter
Stark – Comeback
Stark – The Green Eagle Score
Stark – Flashfire
Stark – Dirty Money
Stark – Breakout
Stark – Ask the Parrot
Asimov – Foundation
Brunner – More Things in Heaven
Brunner – Timescoop
Crichton – Sphere
Crichton – Next
Crichton – The Terminal Man
Crichton – Micro
Crichton – Congo
Gifford – Wild at Heart
Gifford – Perdito Durango
Searls – Jaws the Revenge
Archer – Only Time Will Tell
Archer – Sons of Fortune
Isayama – Attack on Titan Vols I-II
Junji – Itou Junji Kyoufu Manga Collection Vols I-VI
Jodorowsky & Frissen – Metabaron Vols I-V
Jodorowsky – The Luminous Incal
Jodorowsky – What Lies Beneath
Murakami – Hear the Wind Sing
Murakami – Pinball 1973
Mitchell – The Bone Clocks
Morgan – Altered Carbon
Morgan – Broken Angels
Doyle – Hound of the Baskervilles
Puzo – The Godfather
Puzo – The Sicilian
Flynn – Dark Places
Hill – Stange Weather
Ichiguro – Never Let Me Go
King – Needful Things
McCarthy – No Country for Old Men

Grey – Stalin
Sarno – The Mind Body Connection
Sarno – The Divided Mind
Bell – Superstructure
Harper – Reagan
Ivanov – Gandhi
Riley – Fulton Sheen
Payne – Fame
Barbas – Movie Crazie
Reeves – America’s Bishop
Sheen – Treasures in Clay
Lynch – Selling Catholicism
McGrath – Christianity’s Dangerous Idea
Frank, Moreto & White – Devotions and Desires
Hearn – Men of the World
Frankl – Man’s Search for Meaning
Marshall & Redmond – A Companion to Celebrity
Schreier – Blood, Sweat and Pixels

A few observations about a year in reading:

Michael Crichton is much more of a hack than I initially gave him credit. I think it was about a hundred pages into ‘Micro’ when I realized I was reading pulp-trash for the modern era, nothing more. Sure his books are fun and addictive, and he likes to fill pages with enjoyable techno jargon, but the more I read, the lesser the returns. What is his obsession with annoying characters that talk a lot? How many of these stories really needed talking animals / mentally-challenged aliens / computers / bratty children / etc? The same can be said for his preacher intros (and preachy characters) about how humans don’t comprehend science and its gonna bite us all in the ass. Here I was thinking that he was a genuinely intelligent science fiction and techno-thriller writer, when really he’s this past generation’s John Brunner. Not that I’ll stop reading his books or anything.

Richard Stark (Donald Westlake) deserves all the praise that appears on the back of his novels. That man has not only perfected the heist / crime genre, but seems to constantly find a way of upturning his own conventions and formula with every Parker novel. I read eight of his novels back to back and each one somehow felt both fresh and familiar at the same time. Plus, I love books that are plot-focused rather than, say, character studies or meditative or momentary explorations of the self yada yada, and the Parker novels are all plot.

Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan is many times better (in every sense of the word) than the Netflix series. I liked the show on first viewing (or rather, ended up liking it in spite of its poor pacing, overly talky scenes, etc.), but after reading the book in between viewings of the season, man does it make the show look bad. Okay, not look – since the production values, costumes, sets, special effects, and all that are stunning – but in terms of telling a gripping, important story, the show really feels meandering in comparison to the much tighter plotting and pacing of the novel. Still, I have high hopes for season 2 if it follows the also expertly paced (at least first 4/5ths) of the sequel Broken Angels.

When I first started reading Wild at Heart by Giffords, I wondered how on earth that novella managed to become an international bestseller. I think I felt the same way all the way through as well. It was so weird, oddly structured, and almost inconsequential (though certainly enjoyable) that I thought it must have been a mistake. But then, once it was over, somehow everything came together and I just got it and realized it was brilliant all along. Not a lot of books do that, sneaking up on you and becoming much better once you make it through the story as a whole. Even now, when I think about sections, and the little micro stories, I reminisce over the clever little details, the sharp writing, and the memorable moments I didn’t think were going to stick with me. The same can be said for its follow-up, Perdita Durango.

Biggest disappointment? The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. I know. I should have loved it. It had so many interesting and clever elements and ideas in there. My main issue is that none of them came together in a way that just clicked for me. I found myself consistently bored, annoyed and wondering why there seemed to be so much filler in the foreground and so many exciting things happening in the background that were only alluded to. At one point, the characters discuss an event that happened in the past, and the event was so much more interesting than the story that I was in the process of reading that I felt kinda like I was ripped off. Don’t get me wrong, Mitchell writes brilliant prose (in numerous voices). I just wish his stories didn’t unfold at a snail’s pace.

By alexander

Drinker of bad wine and writer of many things. Alexander writes fiction, manages a team of SEOs, and dabbles in food history. He also has a Doctorate in North American Religion and Culture and used to teach at Concordia University.