For the past month or so we’ve seen the annual steady stream of “Best Books of the Year” lists from websites, bloggers, magazines, critics, and newspapers. So, I thought that I would share my own unsolicited list. If you are a regular visitor to TBTP, then you probably know that books are a huge part of my life. Along with selling and collecting books, I’m a voracious reader. Although these days I’m spending more time reading on screens, I still manage to get through two or three actual old fashioned paper books per week on average. Here’s a partial “Best of” fiction list from 2018 that I can unreservedly recommend:
I’m still digesting this devastating debut novel by Native American author Tommy Orange. The novel weaves together the heartbreaking stories of 12 “urban Indians” as there paths lead to a Powwow in Oakland, CA.
I’ve been badgering people to read Ottessa Moshfegh since her wildly original debut book Eileen was released. Her newest novel’s amoral, narcissistic narrator may not evoke much empathy from the reader, but this meditation on material culture, the media, art, grief, and friendship will stay with you for a long time.
If Philip K. Dick was still around, this is exactly the kind of speculative fiction/social commentary that he would be writing. Gnomon offers a glimpse of a chilling near-future in a challenging read featuring out-of-control AI, dystopian regimes, and sharks.
Like many fans of Tana French’s terrific Dublin Murder Squad series, I was initially disappointed to find that The Witch Elm was a stand-alone title. But by the end of this gripping story about loss, memory, family, and identity I was a believer.
Less is a novel about a writer’s midlife crisis and his around the world trip to try and escape his past. Facing 50, Arthur Less suffers disappointment, humiliation, and one cringe-worthy episode after another, but somehow the book remains joyful and warmhearted.
You may not know Laura Lippman’s work yet, but her latest noir novel is a seminar on writing smart, nuanced characters, while delivering a smokey, haunting story.
Readers who are unfamiliar with Mick Herron’s espionage series centered on a gaggle of MI5 misfits from the Slough House should go back and binge read the first four brilliant and hilarious books and then devour this gem.