Routines bring me pleasure, and one of my favourites is this annual pair of blog posts covering what I have read and listened to over the previous twelve months. First, as always, is the reading list, powered by the awesome Goodreads.

Last year's total book count was forty, but in 2018 – largely thanks to a change in work schedule that doubled the amount of time I spend either hanging around airports or sitting on planes – I smashed through that target with a fairly respectable total of forty-seven.

Fiction (33)

  • Triplanetary (E.E. "Doc” Smith)
  • The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
  • Puzzles of the Black Widowers (Isaac Asimov)
  • The Phantom of the Opera (Gaston Leroux)
  • Heart of Darkness ( Joseph Conrad)
  • Rise of the Horde (Christie Golden)
  • Banquets of the Black Widowers (Isaac Asimov)
  • Tender Is the Night (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
  • The Sound and the Fury (William Faulkner)
  • Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman)
  • In the Unlikely Event (Judy Blume)
  • The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
  • Empire of the Sun (J.G. Ballard)
  • Ask the Dust (John Fante)
  • Neuromancer (William Gibson)
  • Hemingway's Chair (Michael Palin)
  • Titus Groan (Mervyn Peake)
  • The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
  • The Odyssey (Homer)
  • My Name Is Lucy Barton (Elizabeth Strout)
  • Winter Holiday (Arthur Ransome)
  • Where Eagles Dare (Alistair MacLean)
  • The Underground Railroad (Colson Whitehead)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
  • The Anubis Gates (Tim Powers)
  • Sphere (Michael Crichton)
  • It (Stephen King)
  • Night's Master (Tanith Lee)
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora (Scott Lynch)
  • The Dragon (Jane Gaskell)
  • Portnoy's Complaint (Philip Roth)
  • The Serpent (Jane Gaskell)
  • The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (Claire North)

I started the year off by picking up some second-hand fantasy recommendations from game designer Alexis Kennedy, whose writing I admire a lot, and then moved through the usual mixture of old favourites (Ransome, Peake, Auel) and unread classics (King, Dumas, Atwood, Gibson, Conrad et al). I usually manage a couple of doorstop-size books every year; in 2018 it was the turn of The Count of Monte Cristo and Homer's Odyssey, which was fantastic and I highly recommend to everyone that hasn't given epic Greek poetry a try before now.

Non-fiction (12)

  • You're Never Weird on the Internet (Felicia Day)
  • Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All (David M. Kelley, Tom Kelley)
  • Guns, Germs and Steel: A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years (Jared Diamond)
  • The Shape of Design (Frank Chimero)
  • Wish I Was There (Emily Lloyd)
  • Travelling to Work: Diaries 1988-1998 (Michael Palin)
  • Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race (Reni Eddo-Lodge)
  • The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right (Atul Gawande)
  • How I Escaped My Certain Fate (Stewart Lee)
  • The Lost Child of Philomena Lee: A Mother, Her Son and a 50 Year Search (Martin Sixsmith)
  • An Askew View: The Films of Kevin Smith (John Kenneth Muir)
  • Design Systems: A practical guide to creating design languages for digital products (Alla Kholmatova)

More non-fiction than usual this year, which was a bit of a surprise to me when I came to count up the totals; a few more biography-style books too, including the third installment of the Palin diary series, which had been sitting on my bedside table for several years waiting for me to finally finish it off.

Comic/illustrated (2)

  • Patience (Daniel Clowes)
  • Everybody is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations (Peter Bagge)

Finally, two new(ish) books by comic authors I first read in the early 90s. Patience was a pretty good time-travel story; the Bagge book was more hit-and-miss (mostly miss, unfortunately).

Recommendations

I'd wholeheartedly recommend several of the books I read this year; The Kite Runner, Empire of the Sun, and The Underground Railroad were all excellent, as was Guns, Germs and Steel. But I think the two books that will stay with me the longest were also the longest in length and the oldest – The Count of Monte Cristo and Homer's The Odyssey both deserve their place on all of those 'best of all time' lists.