Here 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.