Tuesday, January 1, 2019

My Top Books of 2018

2018 was a bad year for blogging, but another good year for reading. Like last year I managed to read 60 books, though not quite as many pages as I hit in 2017.

I use Goodreads to keep track of what I've read, so if you are interested here's the full list of what I read in 2018. My "best books of the year" are drawn from titles that I read that also came out this year. I read a lot of science fiction and science books, so my list comes from a pretty narrow spectrum of books.

In the realm of science books my top two were We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe by cartoonist Jorge Cham and physicist Daniel Whiteson. It's a very friendly look at the big mysteries of modern science and I enjoyed the heck out of it.  Even better though is Alan Stern and David Grinspoon's Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto. It is the inspiring story of how the New Horizons mission was created, funded, cancelled, re-born and eventually sent for its 2015 flyby of Pluto, giving us our only look at the most famous of dwarf planets.

By the way, New Horizons just completed a successful flyby of another and more distant object, but as of this writing the data is only now being returned to Earth.

I also very much enjoyed Adam Frank's Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth.

Another non-fiction book that I very much enjoyed was Michael Benson's Space Odyssey, which looks at the making of the classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey

There were so many good science fiction books out in 2018. John Scalzi gave us two (Head On and The Consuming Fire). Becky Chambers Record of a Spaceborn Few was very enjoyable, but my favorites were How to Stop Time by Matt Haig and Mary Robinette Kowal's two Lady Astronaut books: The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky.

How to Stop Time is wonderful, quotable and profound, while MRK's two Lady Astronaut books are adventurous, tragic, inspiring and important. They tackle head on issues of inclusion, race and discrimination. I highly recommend them.

2019 should be another good year for reading. I got a nice pile of books for Christmas that is getting me off to a good start.