2017 in Books

In 2017 I read 83 books according to my Goodreads account. It was pretty evenly split between books and graphic novels. Sadly, I don't get to read as much as I used to when I averaged about two per week but I'm happy to get whatever time I can to read. 

Some folks wonder how I can even read as much as I do and one of my strategies is to always have a book on hand. Besides having access to physical books, I have a Kindle which I keep loaded with tons of books and an Audible subscription for listening to books in the car or while puttering around. This way I can always be reading but I just bought a Nintendo Switch this week so maybe not as many books in 2018?

Anyway, let's get to some thoughts I had on some memorable books this year.

Best of the Year

Easily the best book I read this year was The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin was amazing. Jemisin does such an excellent job of building a world that seems like it could be ours but it is different enough to leave you wondering. The intertwining of three stories from three women of different ages is a tour de force of writing.

After I finished this book I waited until the third book of the trilogy was available so I could read The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky back to back. This strategy worked out so well I intend to use it going forward for all trilogies. The sequels don't disappoint at all and the entire series gets my highest recommendation.

Surprise of the Year

Usually I steer away from licensed comic books as more often than not they are of lower quality art and writing with the Larry Hama written G.I. Joe comics from the 80's. However, I am an absolute sucker for the monthly Humble Book Bundles. When I saw that they were doing one on all of IDW's G.I. Joe and Transformer comics I jumped at the chance to pick them up on the cheap as they have been highly recommended by Chris Sims on the War Rocket Ajax podcast. 

I'm really glad I did as they are a delight. The art and writing is great and not as juvenile as the beloved cartoon from the 80's. Please don't send me angry emails, I still love the cartoon from the 80's. The story and characters are recognizable from the TV show or comics you loved as a kid but they are not a rehash of previous storylines so there is something new in there for everyone.

Best Programming Book

I'm not going to go too into depth on this one as I've already written a full blog post on it here.


Most Thought Provoking Read

Coming in near the end of the year was Technically Wrong by Sara Wachter-Boettcher which really left me with a lot to think about and an idea for a new conference talk. I've personally seen algorithms go wrong in my career in high tech. In 2018 I'm making it part of my goals to make sure we don't accidentally add our biases into the software we develop. If you've ready Technically Wrong I'd also recommend Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O'Neil

Best Graphic Novel of the Year

I'd been putting off reading The Sandman: Overture for awhile as I figured once I was done with it there would be no new Sandman comics for me. I finally set aside some time to really get into it and I loved it.

This book finally explains how Dream could be captured as we see him in the first issue of the Sandman series. Even though it is a prequel of sorts it doesn't feel like the author is re-arranging furniture to get you to that point.

Honestly though, how could this not be great when Neil Gaiman is writing, J.H. Williams III is on pencils, Dave Steward is on colours and Todd Klein on letters. These four gentlemen are at or near the top of their professions and it shows in this collection.

Worst Read of the Year

I'm still trying to figure out why this book was so popular. The only thing I can think of is it must be for folks who don't generally read science fiction. If you are an avid reader of science fiction it will seem very derivative of number of other books you've already read. Also, I know it is fiction but the science driving the plot is kinda hand waving magic crap.