This years list surprised me.
Typically, when I do my year in review I find quite a few books I loved and forgot. That was no different this year which is one reason why I enjoy keeping a book blog in the first place. It’s nice to be reminded of books you loved and nice to know there are so many of them that you can forget quite a few.
After I boiled down my long list, which included 17 books, I took a look at the remaining top ten and found nine of ten were by men. What’s going on here? I like to think of myself as someone who reads a wide variety of books and authors. So why is only Jane Austen on my list?
I looked back at the previous lists I’ve done here at James Reads Books and found no pattern. Last year’s list of ten had eight books by women, just two by men. The year before that was 5 and 5. So, no pattern, just more-or-less random results.
For a moment, I thought about redoing the list to make it more wide ranging, more reflective of my overall reading. Then I counted my reading. 67 books read. 20 of them by women, but four of those were Jane Austen. This is not right, surely. But those are the numbers.
So, to rectify this situation, once the Tournament of Books is over, I’m going to go a couple of months just reading the women in my TBR stack. That should produce more of a balance in 2018. Balance or tip the scales away from the men for a couple of years.
That seems fair.
What follows is my top ten favorite reads for 2018. I’ve stuck with my usual, single criteria–how likely am I to read the book again.
- Call My by Your Name by Andre Acimen – Romantic and erotic. I was surprised by this book’s passion. A passion which made it very hard to put down.
- Mississippi Noir edited by Tom Franklin – Easily my favorite of the Noir series so far. These tales, mostly tales of love, paint a vivid portrait of life among the underclass of Mississippi.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – This is the second time Pride and Prejudice has appeared on my annual list of top ten favorite reads. It probably won’t be the last. While I didn’t make it to the end of the Jane Austen Read All-a-long, Pride and Prejudice never fails to entertain. It’s a classic for a reason.
- Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – A book that deserves all of the praise it has been getting. I’ll be following closely to see how far this one gets in the Tournament of Books.
- Days Without End by Sebastian Barry– My own personal favorite for this years Booker Prize competition. Lost out to Lincoln in the Bardo, alas. If I picked one book from 2018, it would very likely be this one.
- Fat City by Leaonard Gardner – I must have read a lot of noir this year, because this is the second of three to make it to this list. A boxing story set mostly in central California, I was very taken with the characters in Mr. Gardner’s novel.
- The Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage — Both a western and a noir tale of love and crime and just how badly things can go wrong on the plains of Montana.
- Train Dreams by Denis Johnson – My first experience with Denis Johnson. I plan on coming back to him for more in 2018.
- Sudden Death by Alvaro Enrique – A surprise favorite from last years Tournament of Books. This one sent me in search of a tennis ball made from Anne Boleyns’s hair said to be in the New York Public Library. After several calls and time on hold, the librarian, who was very interested in finding said tennis ball, and I realized it was fictional.
- The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder– I loved this story, though I do not care about football at all. Seems fitting to end this list with a book about a large group of middle-aged, mostly white men who reunite each year to act out a single tragic football play. Their intersecting lives fascinated and moved me. I loved it.
That’s my list for 2017.
What were your favorite reads this year?