Best Reads of 2017

avramHere are my best reads in English during 2017. My total was only 35 books, because I read several very long ones and slogged through a lot of borderline-bad reading matter, prominently among which I must sadly mention the Hugo-nominated fiction. I don’t believe in good taste, but I can tell you that I don’t share the taste of the Hugo-nominating majority. And I won’t be reading another Hugo packet!

Ten of the titles were e-books. Find me at Goodreads! Dear Reader, what were your best reads of the year?

  • The Umbrella Man and Other Stories. Roald Dahl 1982. Neatly constructed 40s & 50s stories of suspense, but with a note of cold misanthropy.
  • Behind the Castle Gate: From the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Matthew Johnson 2002.
  • The Fear Institute (Johannes Cabal #3). Jonathan L. Howard 2011. Cabal the Necromancer goes to Lovecraft’s Dreamlands.
  • Creating Freedom: Power, Control and the Fight for Our Future. Raoul Martinez 2016. A lot of interesting Leftie ideas but too long-winded and extremely negative in its view of present affairs.
  • The Secret Life of the Georgian Garden. Kate Felus 2016.
  • Some Remarks. Neal Stephenson 2012. Essays and talks, many of them from the 90s.
  • All These Shiny Worlds: the 2016 ImmerseOrDie Anthology. Ed. Jefferson Smith 2017.
  • Lovecraft Country. Matt Ruff 2016. A present from Birger! This enjoyable collection of Lovecraftian novellas and short stories is set in 1954 and revolves around a group of African Americans. But it is under-researched historical fiction. I would have enjoyed it even more if the author had tried to write dialogue that was realistic for that time and ethnic group. Everyone speaks like a white 2017 sci-fi fan. And very few societal concerns of 1950s USA are touched upon beyond the strongly emphasised racial oppression. (I also read Victor LaValle’s Hugo-nominated novella The Ballad of Black Tom which is similar, but didn’t like it as much as Ruff’s book.)
  • Pandora’s Star. Peter S. Hamilton 2004.
  • Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016 with a Journal of a Writer’s Week. Ursula LeGuin 2016.
  • Collected Short Stories vol. 1. William Somerset Maugham 1951.
  • Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. Mary Roach 2016.
  • The Investigations of Avram Davidson: Collected Mysteries. 1956-86.
  • The Boy On The Bridge. Mike Carey 2017. More fungal zombies!
  • Brothers in Arms (Vorkosigan Saga, #5). Lois McMaster Bujold 1989.
  • Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History. Stephen Jay Gould 1989.
  • Artemis. Andy Weir 2017.
  • We Are Legion (We Are Bob). Dennis Taylor 2016.
  • Midnight’s Children. Salman Rushdie 1981.
  • Wish Lanterns. Young lives in new China. Alec Ash 2016. Interleaved mini-biographies of six Chinese people born 1985-90.

Here’s my list for 2016.

Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

13 thoughts on “Best Reads of 2017”

  1. I must mention the non-fiction ” Soonish” by Wienenersmith. A humoristic take on disruptive technologies that may be just around the corner. It is aimed at students or other twentysomething readers which results in a style that not everyone may like, but it seems well researched.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “The Goblin Emperor” from the 2016 Hugos was pretty good and couldn’t be accused of a flat, 2010s-college-educated-American style of dialogue. The German version of Mika Waltari’s “The Egyptian” is fun. While I write my Doktorarbeit, I do not have time or money for many novels though! I could not find “Soonish” in bookstores.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Obama’s Reading List” (from Ed Brayton’s blog)
    Addendum: In a interview from the 17th tee, President Trump stated: “Spot’s a loser, Spot runs, that’s really, really terrible for your health, believe me. I prefer Spots that don’t lose – you know in primetime, or on Fox & Friends. I like that show – I really do. Now time for me to line up this putt for my 116th hole-in-one!”


  4. “Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History. Stephen Jay Gould 1989.”

    I read this when it came out in paperback. I’ve read all of Gould’s stuff, even his technical works—well, the books, not the papers. One of my favourite writers, up there with Asimov.

    It seems he did get a couple of things wrong, though, and learning about evolution only through Gould does bias one somewhat.


    1. It seems to be in the nature of things that any famous writer who inspires you with beautiful theories as a teenager will make you grit your teeth if you read their works again after studying the subject at university. Humility and awareness that your own thinking is probably flawed like the thinking of grand theorists before you does not passionate, convicted writing make.


  5. Going off on a tangent.
    ” Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff is on my list for 2018.
    The journalist had unique insight into the Trump White House, partly because of the chaos.


  6. The Planet Factory: Exoplanets and the Search for a Second Earth
    -an easy-to read summary of the current state of knowledge, and of the many kinds of planets there are.
    No Close Earth analog yet, despite 3000 discovered planets. Part of the problem is observational bias, but there seems to be real problems creating a planet with a biosphere that remains stable for billions of years.

    Liked by 2 people

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