2018 in Books

In 2018 I read 109 books according to my Goodreads account. This years split was more like 60% books and 40% graphic novels.

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

Best of the Year

Hands down this was my favourite book of the year. So much so I suspect that folks are tired of me bringing it up every 5 minutes or so. I confess I didn’t “read” the book as I opted for the audiobook version read by the surviving members of the group Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz as well as a super star cast of friends of the band. The best being Spike Jonze talking about the photos he took of the band. It’s a hilarious bit and it does a great job of translating from a visual to audio medium.

Anyway as a pre-pubescent boy growing up in the 80’s I really got into hip-hop or rap music as it was called back then. I love, love, loved the old school New York scene that the Beasties were part of and having them grow and mature along with me always was a great barometer of how mature I “should” be.

This book covers every inch of the Beasties career and even though I’ve been a fan since forever there were lots of things I didn’t know about the band. Fans of this book should also check out Ed Piskor’s four volume Hip Hop Family Tree.

BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL OF THE YEAR

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Speaking of Ed Piskor, 2018 gave us the first two collections of his X-Men Grand Design series. It’s an ambitious project where Piskor is compressing 280 issues worth of story into 6 issues (3 collections). I can’t believe how effortlessly he seems to be able to weave the continuity of these 50 plus years of comics into a consistent story while hitting all the high points of the X-Men’s storied career. As a kid who collected the X-Men religiously during the 80’s and 90’s it feels like going back to your home town but seeing that it’s been improved upon instead of breaking down.

BEST TECHNICAL BOOK

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The Business Value of Developer Relations book couldn’t have come along at a better time for me as I moved into a Developer Relations role in 2018. The book really helped me articulate some of my feeling around dev rel at my teams end of year off site and it is chock full of practical advice for those of us in the dev rel field.

I plan on writing a longer blog post on this book once I give it a second read though in 2019.

WORST READ OF THE YEAR

Oh. My. Gawd!

Not far into Kill the Farm Boy I was wishing that like the farm boy I too was dead. This book was billed as a spiritual successor to Pratchett's Discworld novels. That's pretty high praise and I didn't expect the book to fully live up to that billing but even with my lowered expectations I was still disappointed.

The book was not funny or clever. If you are going to do a satire of fantasy tropes I'll give you a bit of leeway but it was filled with low brow puns and anatomy jokes. It's not that I don't like that particular type of humour but it really wasn't well done in this case.