Monday, January 01, 2018

Books of the Year 2017

As part of the end-of-year round-up, here's the list of the books of 2017:
  1. "Pathfinder: The Whisper Out of Time", by Richard Pett
  2. "Reaper's Eye", by Richard A. Knaak
  3. "Far From the Madding Crowd", by Thomas Hardy *
  4. "Jarka Ruus", by Terry Brooks
  5. "The Player of Games", by Iain M. Banks
  6. "Ravenspur", by Conn Iggulden
  7. "Pathfinder: What Grows Within", by John Compton
  8. "Jude the Obscure", by Thomas Hardy *
  9. "Tanequil", by Terry Brooks
  10. "Use of Weapons", by Iain M. Banks
  11. "Pathfinder: Black Stars Beckon", by Jim Groves
  12. "Through the Gate in the Sea", by Howard Andrew Jones
  13. "The Remains of the Day", by Kazuo Ishiguro *
  14. "State of the Art", by Iain M. Banks
  15. "Straken", by Terry Brooks
  16. "The Immortal Throne", by Stella Gemmell
  17. "The Color Purple", by Alice Walker *
  18. "Armageddon's Children", by Terry Brooks
  19. "Pathfinder: Trail of the Hunted", by Amber E. Scott
  20. "Excession", by Iain M. Banks
  21. "Pathfinder: Fangs of War", by Rob Lundeen
  22. "The Woman in White", by Wilkie Collins *
  23. "Gears of Faith", by Gabrielle Harbowy
  24. "The Elves of Cintra", by Terry Brooks
  25. "Inversions", by Iain M. Banks
  26. "Pathfinder: Assault on Longshadow", by Benjamin Bruck and Thurston Hillman
  27. "The Flame Bearer", by Bernard Cornwell
  28. "The Gypsy Morph", by Terry Brooks
  29. "Look to Windward", by Iain M. Banks
  30. "She's Come Undone", by Wally Lamb *
  31. "Pathfinder: Siege of Stone", by Thurston Hillman
  32. "The Long Cosmos", by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
  33. "Madame Bovary", by Gustave Flaubert *
  34. "Bearers of the Black Staff", by Terry Brooks
  35. "Pathfinder: Prisoners of the Blight", by Amanda Hamon Kunz
  36. "The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner", by Terry Pratchett
  37. "Matter", by Iain M. Banks
  38. "The Power", by Naomi Alderman
  39. "The Secret Garden", by Frances Hodgson Burnett *
  40. "Measure of the Magic", by Terry Brooks
  41. "Pathfinder: Vault of the Onyx Citadel", by Larry Wilhelm
  42. "Go Set a Watchman", by Harper Lee
  43. "Surface Detail", by Iain M. Banks
  44. "Anne of Green Gables", by L. M. Montgomery *
  45. "Pathfinder: The Lost Outpost", by Jim Groves
  46. "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms", by George R.R. Martin
  47. "The View From the Cheap Seats", by Neil Gaiman
  48. "Wards of Faerie", by Terry Brooks
  49. "Germinal", by Émile Zola *
  50. "Pathfinder: Into the Shattered Continent", by Robert Brookes
  51. "Bloodfire Quest", by Terry Brooks
  52. "Beren and Luthien", by J.R.R. Tolkien
  53. "Witch Wraith", by Terry Brooks
  54. "Pathfinder: The Flooded Cathedral", by Mikko Kallio
  55. "SS-GB", by Len Deighton
  56. "Xanathar's Guide to Everything", by Wizards of the Coast
  57. "The High Druid's Blade", by Terry Brooks
  58. "Swallows and Amazons", by Arthur Ransome *
  59. "Moby Dick", by Herman Melville *
  60. "The Hydrogen Sonata", by Iain M. Banks

So, that's 60 books exactly, including twelve from The List. Of these, there are thirteen RPG books, and only one re-read ("Use of Weapons"). The Pathfinder Tales sublist had to be curtailed, as these suddenly stopped being published (with still no news of them restarting), but the other sublists were completed, and sufficient additional new books were added to make up the total. So I'm happy with that.

The book of the year was, surprisingly, the very last one I read: "The Hydrogen Sonata" by Iain M. Banks, which was the best of a strong series, and a very fine way to send off that series. I should note that, until book 60, the previous best had been "Inversions" by the same author. Also of note is "Germinal" by Zola, which was strong stuff but very depressing.

The most disappointing book of the year was itself a disappointing category, as three books were in very strong contention for the position, meaning that the quality of the year as a whole took a hit. "The Power" was abject nonsense, but it was at least well-written and mostly entertaining nonsense, so it's spared the title. "Go Set a Watchman" was likewise a huge disappointment, and indeed a book I wish I had never been published as it achieves the almost impossible and makes "To Kill a Mockingbird" retroactively less good. But I was aware of the risk going in, so I have to blame myself, at least in part, for that one.

The book that gets the title, sadly, is "Beren and Luthien", which I didn't enjoy and which also disappointed my high hopes for it. I'd expected, and hoped for, something on the lines of the excellent "Children of Hurin", and although I was uncertain how this could be done (since as far as I was aware, Tolkien never finished a long-form version of this story), I'd hoped that something had come to light to allow it. Alas, this was not the case - "Beren and Luthien" reads much more like an academic tract, bringing together and discussion lots of different versions of the story, without actually presenting the whole thing as a cohesive narrative. It's a book about a story, not really the story itself. (Which is a shame, since that and the story of the Fall of Gondolin, would be extremely interesting additions to the canon of Middle Earth, if it were possible for them to be brought together.)

2018 is another year of transition, and like 2012 I'm therefore not setting goals of the same sort. In fact, the one goal that I am setting is a reading goal, but it's not a total number of books but rather more specific: I intend to read ten specific titles over the course of the year. I've discussed the specifics of this on my post about goals, so won't reiterate them here.

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