According to the year-end wrap-up provided by Goodreads, in 2018 I read 12,290 pages across 37 books (I had a reading challenge goal of 35), from the 93 pages of The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander to the 598 pages of The Friendly Orange Glow by Brian Dear.
The former, about sentient elephants, led me to keep an eye out for new stuff from Bolander, while the latter, about a computer network you’ve likely never heard of, would make a pretty terrific television show in the vein of the great Halt and Catch Fire and even if you’ve never before heard of PLATO there are stories in there that will feel familiar to anyone who experienced any version of early computer internetworking.
I started the year with Autonomous by Annalee Newitz and ended the year with Rosewater by Tade Thompson, although technically I ended the year still in the middle of reading This Is the Way the World Ends by Jeff Nesbit and Treason of Hawks by Lila Bowen, which will be the first books I finish in 2019.
Goodreads tells me that the most popular book I read last year—actually a re-read after watching the terrible movie “adaptation”—was Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (131,858 readers) and the least popular book I read was Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace (154 readers) which is too bad because the Archivist Wasp duology is pretty great and you should read them. You should read the Southern Reach trilogy, too, but looking at those numbers you probably have already.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo was the highest-rated of all the books I read last year, and that’s deserved. She does a pretty good job, one she’s not really required to do, of not overtly shaming white people for being born into a society whose background radiation of white supremacy can’t help but, well, irradiate us. The shame only comes if we don’t admit it and address it, and listen to those impacted by it.
I did also later in the year read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo as a sort of companion piece to the above. If you have to choose one, choose Oluo’s book even though she’s mentioned on Twitter that had DiAngelo’s book come out first she’d have referenced it in hers. The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter is a useful backgrounder.
The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor was a given because at this point when she has a new book out, I’m going to read it. In some sense, although they are completely different, reading her version of Nigeria in her Akata Witch series is what led me to Tade Thompson’s, as when I find even the slightest angle into finding authors who are not, like me, straight, white, middle-aged, and male, I’m trying to take advantage of it.
I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of what I read that you shouldn’t, but I will offer up a short list of some of the other books that you should.
Amatka by Karin Tidbeck
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson
Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar
Not that there’s nothing else on my 2018 read list that is worth reading. I just wanted to highlight some of the books out there that maybe you haven’t noticed. Everyone was reading White Tears by Hari Kunzru and Exit West by Mohsin Hamid and American War by Omar El Akkad so they don’t really need my attention here (although I will say that of the three, I lean toward Exit West).
In fiction, I’d say go for Autonomous, Amatka, Blackfish City, and An Unkindness of Ghosts, but The Only Harmless Great Thing is a good, quick read. I’d say you should read Latchkey but actually you have to go back and read Archivist Wasp first.
Want to help me make my 2019 reading challenge goal of another 35 books? Hit up my Amazon wishlist of Kindle editions. Can’t even afford to keep yourself in Kindle books? Find out if your library is part of Overdrive, like mine is. I couldn’t make my reading challenge goals without it.