Zack Scholl

Books I read (2018)

 / #books 

My favorite book this year was Stories of your Life and Others by Ted Chiang.

(click here to see the books I enjoyed last year)

Finding books

To find good books this year, I re-wrote my book suggestions webapp and tried to find a book similar to Imaginary Magnitude by Stanisław Lem. The book that it found is my favorite book of 2018: Stories of your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. It is a brilliant ode to physics with great storytelling with characters that are both feeling and emotional as well as rational.

Best fiction

This is the first year I kept a list of books I wanted to read. It helped me to stay prioritized about what I read. Early on I read some really good fictional books. I was looking forward to Artemis by Andy Weir and it did not disappoint - though certainly different than The Martian.

I found a lot of new fiction to read this last year - I got hooked onto Ottessa Moshfegh (Homesick for Another World, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Eileen) who is like a modern day Charles Bukowski, and I enjoyed reading Miranda July (The First Bad Man, No one belongs here more than you) who writes about strange out-of-the-box people.

A good friend recommended some great coming-of-age books: Lily by Michael Ford, a book about a magic witch and another world (slightly grim), and The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch, a book about a world who catapults a boy because of his supposed connection with ocean animals.

Best nonfiction

I also found some great non-fiction reads. Michael Pollan’s How to Change Your Mind led me to a rabbit-hole of looking at papers on psychoactive drugs which I found fascinating because of their significant and strong effects as an alternative medicine.

I learned a lot from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat and because of that book I can easily cook chicken with perfection (pre-salting it in the fridge). I started, but didn’t finish Endure by Alex Hutchinson which goes over some interesting scientific experiments and anecdotes about what it means to have endurance and what limits are known to science.

Other books I read: Hackers & Painters by Paul Graham, Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey, Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child, and Ask Me About Polyamory by Tikva Wolf.