Forum > Non-Gaming Discussion > Favourite Books of 2018*
Favourite Books of 2018*
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Wed, 30 Jan 2019 02:45:10

*Obviously they don't need to be from 2018. That would be weird.

I read a few books last year. Enough that I even liked some of them.

I've written several thousand words about a few of them, but I'll be posting that as a series on Game Under. Nevertheless, I’m very interested in hearing about what books other people here read last year.

Some books I liked, I didn't write anything about; so I will write a tiny bit about some of them here. The only one I’d read before was Birds, Beasts and Flowers, but my sister had told me a lot about Slaughterhouse-Five, so I may as well have read it before.

The Iron Man and The Iron Woman by Ted Hughes:

Poets write the best prose. Even not particularly great poets like Ted Hughes. The Iron Giant is one of my favourite films, and the books are fun, too, but much more explicit in their message (which is totally different to The Iron Giant’s commentary on the Cold War). I wish I could find the original illustrious for The Iron Man. They look incredible (see above and below).

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Konrad:

Some absolutely horrific imagery that puts Apocalypse Now to shame. The gruesome boredom of the wait for the boat—then the actual boat trip which is even more gruesome! Anything for that sweet, sweet rubber!

Dante's Trilogy by Dante:

Almost as great as Lucas’s Trilogy by Lucas. Almost as petty as Star Wars zealots.

I read Dorothy L. Seyers translation of Inferno a few years ago, but it's only now I got around to reading the whole journey. Unfortunately by a different translator (Longfellow), so I had to start all over again. Purgatory was my favourite part (very Empire Strikes Back), but Paradise was the most beautiful. This year I’ll probably read through all of Dorothy’s translations. (Technically, I think someone else had to complete Paradise for her.)

Idylls of the King by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:

Pure Pre-Raphaelite porn. Terrifically erotic in its austerity.

Birds, Beasts and Flowers by D.H. Lawrence:

I'm not sure if old boy was fucking the fig, or the fig was fucking him, but there was definitely some fig fuckery going on at some point. I love the tortoise poems. Bleak, terrifying, disgusting, erotic, and life affirming all at once. Pure joy. Just like the bible.

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman:

Mr. Regular of Regular Car Reviews on YouTube described Walt Whitman as being so horny he wanted to fuck the earth itself. Or something to that effect. I’m inclined to agree with his assessment. And Walt’s, too, as he makes a highly convincing argument for such an attitude in his wonderful poetry.

The one about him growing up and losing some of the joys of childhood without any regret is tremendous. Or is that by Wordsworth? I can never remember which!

P.S. The civil war stuff is brutal.

Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.:

Amusingly Kurt Jr. cites David Irving’s figures from the now infamous The Bombing of Desden. But I digress. The book is monumental, but perhaps a bit too monumental for Kurt Jr. (perhaps if he was Kurt Sr. he would have approached it more maturely?). Certainly too monumental for a post-modern structure—yet I think that is part of its charm: confronted with such monumental power, what recourse does one have but to prayer, jokes and disassociation?

The Vegetarian by Han King:

Female authors love men with paunches.

I really like the realisation of the true orientation of trees by the titular vegetarian, and there are other moments of beauty, but the first part is a bit of a drag, and for reasons I’ve forgotten it doesn’t feel like the potentially shocking metaphor at the centre of the story is fearlessly realised.

The dinner date with daddy and all its diversions, as well as the consummation—or should I say pollination—of the artist and the flower’s lust, are all pretty intense, though.

In A German Pension by Katherine Mansfield:

Yes, even lesbians love male paunches!

This is some great juvenilia, but it’s mostly sketches or stories that undermine the themes they’re exploring for dramatic effect.

Of the sketches, many of the ones actually related to the pension feature some solid conversations.

Of the stories, the doctor and barmaid ones stand out as being mostly successful: the former an amusing commentary on class and sex, the latter one the same, but frisky as well as fun.

I think there’s an attempted rape somewhere in there that is pretty amusing, too.

Tales of Power by Carlos Castaneda:

Just to make it an even 10 for the sake of internet list fans everywhere. Also for people on the internet, this book is your guide to distinguishing religions from cults. If you can’t tell the difference between this and the bible or what-have-you, then you’re at risk of falling victim to a cult. Not to imply discrimination between the two isn’t difficult: there are moments of wisdom and beauty, as well as bits of grooming. Carlos is welcome to seduce me, too—I assume his inhuman nagual sperm doesn’t carry human STDs.

And now to ruin the top 10 list for denizens of the internet (is netizen a combination of internet and citizen, or internet and denizen?):

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne:

I wonder what one would have to write about today to produce such novelty based on a believable exploration of the earth. Probably it would still be about the sea. But that that might interfere with the idea the world has been perfectly mapped already, so we’ll probably still just pretend that one day we’ll be exploring space again. That is one awesome thing that came out of the Cold War. Pity it ended with it.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson:

Much better than the short story for which she’s famous, but still not exactly great or anything. The psychological musing is a bore and most of the characters except the protagonist are terrible caricatures, but the house itself has its charms when it’s being mischievous, and there is something compelling in the relationship between the protagonist and her new BFF. Something compelling in the ending, too. I’m just not entirely sure what.

The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker:

Apparently there was a scene in the film version (Hellraiser) of Frank whipping Julia. For some reason this wasn’t used in the film, but it would certainly have made the book. However it isn’t in the book, either! Just what the hell was Clive thinking? In spite of this terrible oversight, both the film and the book are pretty fun and sensuous assemblages of lust, violence, love and jealousy. They’re not very scary, though. Evens so, to use the terminology of the “PC” “SJW”s of the time, they’re real video nasties. Even the book is, because Clive’s imagery is pretty powerful.

Things I learnt from books this year:

Charles M. Schultz’s Peanuts is brilliant.

Apparently the Australian pearling industry was still using indentured labour in the 70s!

No matter how hard I try, I can’t find anyone who comes close to Herge in comics. Not surprising, as there are few draughtsman in real art and few writers in real writing who do.

Philip Larkin took some decent enough photographs, and although his nerdy womanising was eclipsed by Kingsley Amis’s, it was nevertheless enough to make the latter insanely jealous of him. When listening to sex rev revisionists, it’s always useful to recall the actual “sex lives” of people before it. Also, his parody of Hughes (of whom he was jealous) is hilarious. Something about God the Thunderer shatting himself with lightning.

Persian medieval manuscript illumination was much more technically advanced than the illuminators of the uncivilised, barbarous hoards in Europe—much more pornographic, too, but I’m inclined to say less sensuous than the Chi-Rho monogram of the Lindisfarne Gospels. Not to imply that Islamic calligraphy isn’t brilliant in its own right, but I’ve never seen such sensuous letters as those glittering so seductively in the Lindisfarne Gospels anywhere else.

Yes, it’s true. Unfortunately you can’t learn much from books. Oh well.

Here are the books worthy of talking about in some way or other in the upcoming Game Under series:

Flowers of Evil (both the Charles Baudelaire book and the Shuzo Oshimi manga)

Louis Bourgeois: The Spider and the Tapestry edited by Hauser and Wirth and also Louis Bourgeois: An unfolding Portrait by Deborah Wye.

Meret Oppenheim: Retrospective by Elisabeth Bronfen, Heike Eipeldauer and Christiane Meyer-Thoss

Surrealism by Mary Ann Caws

Poet in Spain by Garcia Lorca, edited and translated by Sarah Arvo

Wessex and Other Verses by Thomas Hardy

Rumi, Day By Day by Rumi, edited and translated by Mafi Maryam

The Romantic Poets by—you guessed it—the romantic poets, published by Canterbury Classics (I couldn’t find who edited it)

Paradise Lost by John Milton, edited by Dennis Danielson whose parallel prose translation I did not read

Japanese Death Poems: Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death by Yoel Hoffman

The Upanishads edited and translated by Juan Mascaro

Dr. Seuss Goes to War 1 and 2 by Andre Schiffrin and Richard H. Minear respectively

The Lorax and The Cat in the Hat 2 by Dr. Seuss

The World of Edena by Moebius

Nikopol trilogy and Century’s End by Enki Bilal (the latter with Pierre Christin)

Land of Love and Ruins by Oddny Eir

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem

The Trial and Metamorphoses by Franz Kafka

The Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer

How Democracies Die by Steven Livitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

The Dictator’s Handbook by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith

Nietszche and the Nazis by Stephen Hicks

Like a Thief in Broad Daylight by Slavoj Zizek

Survival of the Beautiful by David Rothenberg

Reaching the Animal Mind and Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor

The Art of Beatrix Potter by Emily Zach

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Two Bad Mice, The Tale of Tom Kitten, The Story of Miss Moppet, The Tailor of Gloucester, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter

The Moomin comic books and Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove and Lars Jansson

Whinnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth

Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes and Other Poems as well as The Eve of St. Agnes by John Keats

Edited: Wed, 30 Jan 2019 10:30:47

    A father's no shield
for his child.
We are like a lot of wild
spiders crying together,
but without tears.

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Wed, 30 Jan 2019 10:23:09

Should I list everything I've read?!

"Half a King" by Joe Abercrombie - I don't know if this quite qualifies as fantasy. Good enough but his more adult books would likely have been better introductions to his writing.

"Kings of the Wyld" by Nicholas Eames - Fun and funny fortunately.

"Like Water for Chocolate" by Laura Esquivel - A little baffling.

"Nevernight" by Jay Kristoff - Felt a lot like a young adult story with an adult façade.

"Pacific: The Ocean of the Future" by Simon Winchester - I find his books faintly tedious to read and I don't know why. That doesn't mean I didn't like it; it was interesting. A lot of things to learn relating to the ocean of my pacific nation.

"Sabriel" by Garth Nix - I think this was solid fantasy but far from my favourites.

"The Penguin History of New Zealand" by Michael King - It's good to become more familiar with "my pacific nation". It amazes me to think that there was no one on this land until after the whole of Norman rule in England. And all the giant ostrich-dwarfing birds were still here.

"An Armchair Traveller's History of Finland" by Jonathon Clements - And why not learn something about a country I have no connection to at all. These books about history really changed the direction of my reading habits in 2018.

"Ten Days That Shook the World" by John Reed - And here begins the Russian history. It's all about those dastardly Bolsheviks and their unfortunate revolution.

"The Light and the Dark" by Mikhail Shishkin - A novel as letters written across strange time and space. Tedious and this does mean I didn't like it.

"What Kind of Creatures Are We?" by Noam Chomsky - The political part was interesting enough but the linguistics parts made me question my interest in high-level linguistics.

"Sins of Empire" by Brian McClellan - A follow-up to the previous Powder Mage trilogy. Not quite as enjoyable as that but still very good.

"Words and Rules" by Steven Pinker - Easier to read than Noam Chomsky on the linguistics side.

"The Metamorphoses" by Ovid - Check out this guy and his hip mononym!

"The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" by Haruku Murakami - Contemplative and brutal. This Haruki Murakami character and his weird books...

"No Less Than Mystic" by John Medhurst - Back to Russia with another book about the revolutionary times in the early 20th Century. I preferred this to the John Reed one and this one had more context and a particular emphasis on Lenin.

"Wrath of Empire" by Brian McClellan - More of the same good stuff as before.

And I will do the rest tomorrow or whenever I get around to it. I will also say what my favourites were.


Country: UN
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Wed, 30 Jan 2019 11:24:41

Which translation of the mononymic hipster's story? I know you wouldn't dare read it Latin. I'm surprised you even deigned to read Latin translated!

Edited: Wed, 30 Jan 2019 22:02:09

    A father's no shield
for his child.
We are like a lot of wild
spiders crying together,
but without tears.

Country: NZ
Comments: 312
News Posts: 0
Joined: 2009-01-08
Thu, 31 Jan 2019 09:57:26

It looks like it was F. A. Wright. I won't be including comic books on my list.

"October: The Story of the Russian Revolution" by China Miéville - He has a habit of getting thesaurus-y but not as much as usual (still a lot) in this book. It was interesting but the least appealing of the books on Russia that I read last year.

"The Experiment: Georgia's Forgotten Revolution 1918-1921" by Eric Lee - Expanding my range of subjects here but still involving revolutionary Russia.

"The Etymologicon" by Mark Forsyth - A little irritating at times but okay.

"The Romanovs" by Simon Sebag Montefiore - Those tsars were terrible, terrible people... mostly. It's a shame about how it ended.

"Lair" by James Herbert - KILLER RATS, DUDE! I prefer "The Rats".

"Czechoslovakia: The State That Failed" by Mary Heimann - That's enough of Russia for now... and then it comes back for more. I was learning Czech at the time of reading.

"Diving Belles: And Other Stories" by Lucy Wood - A collection of mixed quality short stories, most of which end quickly because they can.

"Guards! Guards!" by Terry Pratchett - My first of his novels (though I did read a little bit of The Colour of Magic). I wasn't impressed enough to be eager to the read another, but I'm sure I will read one eventually.

"A Darker Shade of Magic" by V.E. Schwab - A book about four different Londons which are very different from each other. The lore interested me but it started going downhill with the introduction of a real world London thief.

"Slaughter-House Five" by Kurt Vonnegut - Entertaining enough but annoying too.

"Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" by J.K. Rowling - My first time reading since before the first movie came out when I was 10. I actually liked it more than I expected, so it's aged well.

"War Cry" by Brian McClellan - A novella. Not my favourite of his but worth reading anyway.

"To the Lighthouse" by Virginia Woolf - Long ruminations and long sentences.

"The Death of the Heart" by Elizabeth Bowen - Sometimes awkwardly archaic. But I liked it.

"Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë - I gave it five stars. What a genuine surprise. Somehow, though it's roughly a hundred years older than the previous book, it's less archaic.

"We Have Always Lived in the Castle" by Shirley Jackson - Another five star book. I'm getting a good streak going. This novel was surreal and amusing.

"The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson - And the streak ends. I liked the first half a lot and I expected it to start getting scary or something. It didn't. Ending was good though, innit.

"Europe: A History" by Norman Davies - The longest book I've ever read. I spaced this one out of a few months. A way to give myself a good foundation for the span of European history. Russia returns.

"The Lies of Locke Lamora" by Scott Lynch - After an unsure start I ended up getting really into this, even if virtually all of the characters are terrible people.

"Children of the Nameless" by Brandon Sanderson - Probably the best Magic: The Gathering novella I could ever read.

I don't feel like proofreading.

Edit: Oh, my favourites...

  1. Jane Eyre
  2. We Have Always Lived in the Castle
  3. Kings of the Wyld
  4. Sins of Empire
  5. The Romanovs

Something like that should suffice.

Edited: Thu, 31 Jan 2019 10:00:42


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Sat, 02 Feb 2019 23:23:39

I'm just saying the Resident Evil book I'm reading right now might be the BOTY.

Country: UN
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Sun, 03 Feb 2019 21:48:31
Aarny said:

I'm just saying the Resident Evil book I'm reading right now might be the BOTY.

Wrong year bro.

    A father's no shield
for his child.
We are like a lot of wild
spiders crying together,
but without tears.

Country: US
Comments: 3221
News Posts: 306
Joined: 2010-07-12
Wed, 06 Feb 2019 15:21:25

I had two books from 2018: The Art of Metal Gear Solid I - IV by Darkhorse and The Legend of Zelda: Encyclopedia also by Darkhorse.


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Country: UN
Comments: 14735
News Posts: 1029
Joined: 2008-06-21
Thu, 07 Feb 2019 08:34:54
Nintyfan17 said:

I had two books from 2018: The Art of Metal Gear Solid I - IV by Darkhorse and The Legend of Zelda: Encyclopedia also by Darkhorse.

Nice. I don't think I've ever read any videogame-related books, unless strategy guides and things that come with special editions etc. count.

Also the books don't have to be from 2018, just that you read it in 2018.

    A father's no shield
for his child.
We are like a lot of wild
spiders crying together,
but without tears.

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