After college, I resolved to read one book a month. It can be fiction, non-fiction, technical, business-oriented, or whatever as the goal was to always be absorbing and digesting new ideas and information, even just for fun. More recently, I’ve generally tried to read 3 per month which works great with a Kindle and a ton of travel.
This year I only read 25 because I had less travel days (yay!), picked up a couple iPad games (boo!), and used my flight time to actually work (meh).
Anyway, here are my top five in order:
- Monster Hunter Memoirs: Saints by John Ringo with Larry Correia
- Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by John Ringo with Larry Correia
- The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
- Winged Hussars by Mark Wandrey
- Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners by John Ringo with Larry Correia
And here are the 25 books I completed in 2018, sorted by author:
Kai Wai Cheah
- I read the first of this series last year and was intrigued by the Shadowrun-ish concept of an alternate universe with various forms of magic and beyond current technology running amok. In this one, the team we met last time is under heavy attack and has to push back.
- I’m ashamed to admit that while I started reading this a few years ago, I never finished it until this year. Regardless, this was a great discussion of how people can be and are persuaded by everything around them. This discusses everything from purposeful pushes by marketing and sales people to unconscious nudges by our peers.
- I read most of Monster Hunter series in 2015 and look forward to each one as it comes out. This time, Correia recruited a great series of authors – including Jim Butcher of The Dresden Files – to write short stories in the same universe. These stories ranged from amusing to great so I’d definitely recommend it if you like the series.
- The Monster Hunter Files (Monster Hunters International Book 7)
- I’ve been reading Vox Day in some shape or form since 2003 or so. One of the things I learned early is that he calls his shots and is rarely wrong. When a few friends passed along Jordan Peterson in early 2017, I noted it and moved on. When a bunch of people did, I finally watched the Cathy Newman interview and was impressed but still didn’t dig in. Then I started reading Vox’s criticism and started paying attention. Once again, Vox is right. Don’t get angry, get informed.
The Four Horsemen Universe
- After reading Ringo’s Troy Rising trilogy (below), I started getting recommendations for various space adventure books and started reading the Four Horsemen series. Unlike most of the books in this list, the series is written by a small flock of authors so while they started off okay, some authors have riffed in fun directions fleshing out the major players and the universe.
- While I’ve enjoyed all of them so far, Winged Hussars is my favorite but the characters in Golden Horde are the most intriguing.
- Cartwright’s Cavaliers by Mark Wandrey (The Revelations Cycle, Book 1)
- Asbaran Solutions by Chris Kennedy (The Revelations Cycle, Book 2)
- Winged Hussars by Mark Wandrey (The Revelations Cycle, Book 3)
- The Golden Horde by Chris Kennedy (The Revelations Cycle, Book 1)
- A Fistful of Credits by various authors (The Revelations Cycle, Book 5)
- Peacemaker by Kevin Ikenberry (The Revelations Cycle, Book 6)
Marion G Harmon
- I read a bunch of the “Wearing the Cape” series back in 2015 and while I enjoyed the beginning, I felt like he pushed it a little far with crossing over to other worlds and other overused tropes. I picked up this one and was pleasantly surprised and I feel like he had the story back. It was tight and compelling but still lighthearted in the right places.
- Entrepreneurship is all about failure – both big and small – and this details many of Horowitz’s hardest, ugliest times and the people around him each step of the way. Reading some of it was gut-wrenching but made a number of things make sense in startups in general and Okta specifically. Overall, it was a good read.
- I loved Howey’s “Silo” series and looked forward to these short stories. While there were a couple great ones – one set in the Silo universe, one about virtual worlds – on average they were uninteresting and didn’t really fit into the overarching theme. Skip this one.
- This series has been my guilty pleasure the last few years. It started with an super-virus infected teenager joining the football team, became mutant tigers who eat people whole, led to the worldwide collapse of civilization, and culminated in this book to bring most of the threads together. This has been a great ride and lots of fun. Further, I’ve traded notes with the author who’s given me some great book recommendations to date. Lesson learned: Say “thanks!” to the people who create great things that you appreciate.
- Wrath & Tears: The Conclusion (Carmine Book 3)
- I really enjoyed O’Brien’s series about a zombie outbreak and the small group who comes together to survive. In this one, the end isn’t just near.. it’s happening in real time throughout the series.
- Lifting the Veil: Fallen – This is the first of a series telling the story of Revelation switching between Heaven’s and Earth’s point of view.
- Lifting the Veil: Winter – In this one, we get a first person perspective into every nuance and detail of the disaster that has hit earth. While it was okay, it was significantly weaker than the first.. made even worse by the opening note where O’Brien warns you that it’s weaker. If you know it’s not good, make it better!
- Being a fan of Monster Hunter series, I was intrigued by Larry Correia allowing another author to play in his universe. Unlike the others, this one is written as a memoir from a monster hunter in the 1980s with a “boots on the ground” perspective that also fills in some mythology from the series. Each of these have been fantastic and all three made my Top 5 above. Don’t read these until you get through Monster Hunter Alpha.
- Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge
- Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners – This one is a tough read. It’s not because it’s poorly written, it’s just the opposite. By the time you get here, you know the characters and appreciate them so reading their pain stings. I can’t say more without spoiling it.
- Monster Hunter Memoirs: Saints – This one is my favorite Monster Hunter book of all across both the main series and this one.
- After reading “Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge,” I picked up a couple of his other books. The first one was a zombie apocalypse that started off okay and quickly went off the rails. I stopped reading when the “security” team attended a midnight concert in mid-collapse Central Park and the 13yo daughter went Mary Sue killing dozens of zombies. Skip this one.
- I gave Ringo one more shot and picked up Live Free or Die. I am so happy I did. In the opening pages, humans experience first contact with a benign species who grows bored with them.. and then the second species shows up, wipes out a few cities, and demands tribute. That’s roughly chapter one and it gets fascinating and amusing from there. The first book is almost 100% centered around one character while the second and third broaden the point of view to a variety of characters on both sides of increasing interstellar tensions.
John C. Wright
- Last year I read a couple things from Wright and frankly fell in love with his writing style. Usually when a story introduces bizarre terminology, it’s used to cover up poor storytelling so characters can explain “common” concepts to each other for the reader’s benefit. That’s poor storytelling. Wright uses it to drive things forward and foreshadow challenges coming for the characters.
- Superluminary: The Lords of Creation – This one follows a junior member of a royal family that has learned science beyond our understanding.
- Superluminary: The Space Vampires – After the last book, the royal family is at war with space vampires. Yes, it sounds silly but it’s a great story told from the command perspective where the last of life is fighting back. Notice I said “life” and not humanity.
- Superluminary: The World Armada – This is the final book of the trilogy and while it was still filled with some bizarre concepts, the way he tied it all together throughout and by the end was fantastic. I didn’t see the end coming until it was there.
- If I included a #6 top book for the year, it would have to be one of these.
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