My Favorite Books of 2018

I still read for 30 minutes or so before falling asleep each night, and that time has added up to 24 novels read in 208 (some of them quite long, others shorter). I love being able to turn my brain off at night, transitioning from work to another world before falling asleep.

This year I read a number of books that I rated 5 out of 5, many of which are in the same series. I’ll talk about them below:

Lightbringer (4-book series by Brent Weeks): I spent months reading these books, and they were months well spent, because these are some of the best fantasy novels I’ve ever read. The magic system is absolutely fascinating, the story arcs are sweeping, and the characters are fascinating. If you like epic fantasy, I highly, highly recommend this series. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy of book 5 even though it won’t release until August.

Age of War (book 3 of an ongoing series by Michael J. Sullivan): I’ve really enjoyed this “Legends of the First Empire” series. It’s epic fantasy, but it feels different. I’d recommend starting with the Riyria trilogy, which takes place thousands of years in the future, and then go back and read this series, as it creates a unique mythology that you think you know until you go back and read about the past.

Children of Time (by Adrian Tchaikovsky): Among all of these series, this was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me. It’s a book about a civilization of sentient, non-alien creatures who are wholly different than humans due to some genetic seeding. It’s the type of book that’s so miraculous and detailed that I may need to read it again someday.

The Consuming Fire (book 2 of a 2-book series by John Scalzi): I consider Scalzi to be a master storyteller, especially when he finds a character he really loves. There’s one such character in this book, and you can almost tell it’s his favorite. This is a far-future science fiction novel with some fun worldbuilding, but it’s all about the people.

Skyward (book 1 in a 3-book series by Brandon Sanderson): Despite my love for Sanderson’s work, this was my biggest surprise of the year. For some reason I thought it was going to be about a kid and their dragon, but it’s not a fantasy book at all. Rather, it’s set in the future, and it’s about a kid and her ship. Again, a common theme here is that while the plot and worldbuilding are superb, it’s the realistic, immersive, 3-dimensional characters that make this book a must-read.

Lady Astronauts (2-book series by Mary Robinette Kowal): I loved these two books, and I really hope there are more to come. In these books, a cataclysmic event requires mankind in the ’50s to accelerate the space program. So it’s an alternate-history novel with plenty of actual history and just the right amount of science fiction. It’s written with the precision of a book like The Martian, but with compelling social issues intertwined with the science.

Off to Be the Wizard (4-book series by Scott Meyer and Liz Pulido): A few people on this blog recommended Off to Be the Wizard, and I’m glad they did, because it’s delightful. The core idea is that a young man finds that the world is controlled by a computer program, giving him the equivalent powers of a wizard. It’s whimsical and fun, especially as the world expands. Unfortunately, the series came to a dead halt for me in book 3 when all of the characters are stripped of the thing that makes the books so interesting in the first place. Perhaps someday I’ll just skip ahead to book 4.

Iron Gold (book 4 in a 6-book series by Pierce Brown): I love Red Rising, and it’s neat to see Brown expand as a writer in Iron Gold. It’s set a few dozen years after the events of Red Rising, and Brown tells the story from different perspectives instead of just one. The next book is due this summer.

With all of that in mind, I’m going to say that my pick for book of the year is…Children of Time. It’s a close call, but this book is simply too good to not recommend to everyone I know. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

What were a few of your favorite books of 2018?

Here’s last year’s list.


5 Responses to “My Favorite Books of 2018”

  1. You need to read The Poppy War by RF Kuang, who is a grad student of Chinese and Japanese history. This book details the Sino-Japanese War but in a fantasy setting. The events match what happened in real history. (Rape of Nanking and section 731). Plus Chinese Pantheon of gods. This book will utterly destroy you emotionally but it is, so, good.

    Also One Way by SJ Morden. Murderer on Mars. Need I say more?

    If you haven’t read the Murderbot series of novellas by Martha Wells you need to do so right now.

    And the Voidwitch novella trilogy by Corey J White.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Thanks, Katherine! I’ve heard good things about The Poppy War, and I’ll check out your order recommendations as well. 🙂

  2. Charles Dionne says:

    Thanks to you I read a lot of great books in 2018! The Mistborn trilogy and the Red Rising trilogy were definitely the highlights. I look forward to checking out some on your recommendations in 2019 starting with Children of Time.

  3. Mike Patterson says:

    My favorite book that I read this year was “Children of Time” at your earlier recommendation. I am really looking forward to the next book… I think it said in February.

    I enjoyed the two Lady Astronaut books, but not as much as you did.

    Mostly, the rest of my year was spent rereading books, especially Sanderson. One of my favorites that gets very little mention is The Rithmatist.

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