Favorite Books of 2018

Last week I posted my reading count (129) for the year, which for me is a good year. Today I’m sharing some of my favorite books read during the year. Note I didn’t say “best”, but rather favorite, I think it’s an important distinction. My first pass through my read list yielded over thirty books, too many for a post like this. My second (painful) pass cut that down and eventually I got to 20. Sigh. Note there were quite a few books I liked a lot that aren’t in this post. What follows is in no particular order. Covers follow title groupings.

West of Guam: The Complete Cases of Jo Gar by Raoul Whitfield – mystery short stories including a series of connected ones. Really superb, probably my favorite book of the year. Five stars.

Ka by John Crowley – either fantasy or general fiction, depending on your thought. Not for everyone, but I liked it more and more the further I read.

And Be A Villain by Rex Stout, Second Confession by Rex Stout – mystery – the second and third of the three Arnold Zeck novels, and though the first is fine, I like these the best. Always worth rereading.

A Killing in Quail County by Jameson Cole – mystery – this 1996 hardcover had been sitting on the shelf since new, and I finally pulled it off the shelf in a fit of “I don’t know what to read next”. Sure glad I did, I especially liked the 15 year-old narrator.

Ragged Lake by Ron Corbett – mystery – His first mystery and a good one. I also liked the next one, Cape Diamond, just not quite as much.


The Killer Angels by Michael Sharra – non-fiction (slightly fictionalized) – excellent account of the battle at Gettysburg.

An Informal History of the Hugo Awards by Jo Walton – non-fiction – though I had some occasional issues with the author’s point of view, over all this was both a fun book and a good reference.

A Serpent’s Tooth by Craig Johnson – mystery – A Longmire novel. I read a lot fewer of these in 2018, but may pick that up this year. Though not my favorite in the series, those favorites were read in previous years.

In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen – historical drama – Taking place at the beginning of World War II in England, I found this character-driven novel good, and even better upon reflection.


Age of Myth, Age of Swords, Age of War by Michael Sullivan – fantasy – I loved these three thick fantasy novels as well as anything I read during the year. Probably the best fantasy I’ve read in several years. I can scarcely wait for the next book, The Age of Legend, coming in April.

Broken Ice by Matt Goldman – mystery – An intriguing mystery in a slightly different setting with an interesting cast. Good one.

Desolation Mountain by William Kent Krueger – mystery – Cork O’Conner gets involved when a Senator’s plane goes down near Aurora, and men in sun glasses and dark suits come crawling out of the woodwork. Excellent as usual from this favorite author.

Hawke’s Prey by Revis Wortham – thriller – This was a new-to-me author, character, series (2 so far). Fast, exciting, plenty of shell casings fly.

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny – mystery. The good news: another excellent Chief Inspector Gamache novel from Penny. The bad news: I suspect (though Barbara and most of my friends disagree) it could be the last. Let’s hope not!

Irontown Blues by John Varley – science fiction – one of the few SF novels I read and really liked a lot. There were others, but they got cut in narrowing things down for this post.


That’s it. Maybe I missed some, or forgot some, but those were all favorites.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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21 Responses to Favorite Books of 2018

  1. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Good list, and not just because I’ve read several of them and agree with you. I’m in the middle of the Whitfield and read the Shaara years ago (loved it), Also read and really liked the Walton. I read the Longmire, and I read the Stouts years ago. I do have the Varley on my list.

    The Walton tops my favorite non-fiction, along with David Finkel’s somewhat depressing THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE (about soldiers home from Iraq with PTSD and serious injuries), Martin Edwards’s THE STORY OF CLASSIC CRIME IN 100 BOOKS, Jonathan Abrams’s ALL THE PIECES MATTER: THE INSIDE STORY OF THE WIRE, David Sedaris’s latest amusing collection of essays, CALYPSO, and James Mustich’s 1,000 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE: a lIFE-CHANGING LIST.

    I didn’t find this as satisfying a year for fiction, sadly. I will list some favorites next time.

    • Of course I’d read the Stout books, the whole Zeck trilogy, many years ago, and then again sometimes in the Eighties, so this was a third (possibly fourth) reading, but I enjoyed them just as much as before. Are you enjoying the Jo Gar collection? It took me a goodly while to get through, but I really liked the stories a lot.

  2. I enjoyed Jo Walton’s An Informal History of the Hugo Awards. I have a couple Longmire on my shelf and may get to them this year. I enjoyed the LONGMIRE TV series. Although I have many Big Fat Books on my READ REAL SOON stack, there might be room for Age of Myth, Age of Swords, Age of War by Michael Sullivan based on your positive reviews.

    • I really enjoy the Longmire books but am not interested in the TV series, as I don’t want their vision of the characters to overlay my own, developed as I’ve read the series. If you’re going to read the Sullivan, you might as well wait until your library has the next one, The Age of Legend, coming in April. The books start one after the other and can be read straight through.

  3. Jerry House says:

    Rick, you had some great reading in 2018. Here’s hoping for the same — or better — in 2019!

  4. Evan Lewis says:

    Those Michael J. Sullivan books look mighty tempting, but do I dare risk starting before the series is complete? Oh woe is me.

    • Unfortunately, no. These three are out & at the library, the fourth is coming in April, and there are more. He has written them all, but the publisher is releasing them at intervals:
      The First Empire
      Age of Myth (6/28/2016)
      Age of Swords (7/25/2017)
      Age of War (7/3/2018)
      Age of Legend (4/2019)
      Age of Death (10/2019)
      Age of Empire (4/2020)

      I hate that they are doing this. When I started them, it was supposedly a complete trilogy, but then he wanted to fill it out and wrote the next three. The publisher thought it best to release them far apart for better sales. Sigh. I’m hooked and will be reading them as they come out, but I hate waiting like this.

  5. Rick, it’s all about the money!

  6. tracybham says:

    Lots of interesting books on your list. I will be reading The Second Confession by Stout soon. You got me started on the Cork O’Connor series, I have Boundary Waters to read soon. I need to continue on the Longmire series, I think I have only read three of those books. I am still reading the Jo Walton book and I enjoy it every time I pick it up.

  7. Steve Oerkfitz says:

    I read the Matt Goldman,the John Varley, the Jo Walton and the Shaara. I know I must have read the Rex Stouts back in the 60’s. The Sullivan’s just don’t seem appealing to me. I’ve had a hard time getting into any fantasy books lately. The last one I read and enjoyed was Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett. And the fantasy stories of Matthew Hughes.

  8. fence says:

    Looks like you read some great books in 2018, lets hope that you have the same problem narrowing your favourites down for 2019 🙂

    I haven’t read any of those books, but have heard of a few.

  9. Richard, Rex Stout, Craig Johnson, Louise Penny…they’re all on my list of authors to read. Never read them before.

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