My 7 Favorite Books of 2018

I read a lot of books this year…

so I felt the need to rank them…

as Albus Dumbledore once said “Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.”…

these were my favorite words in 2018…

enjoy…

Honorable Mentions:

  • The autobiography of Gucci Mane with Neil Martinez-Belkin
  • The Once and Future King written by T.H. White
  • The Lost City of Z written by David Gramm
  • Letters of the Dragon written by Bruce Lee

7. Ready Player One written by Ernest Cline

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374 pages, Published August 16th 2011 by Crown Publishers

“As terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness.” – James Halliday, chapter 38

Why? This book kept me entranced from the first page to the last.  It’s fast-paced and filled with action, puzzles and references to make your head spin.  It’s very different from the movie version that came out this year but I urge anyone whose interest was sparked by it to read the book.  It’s far superior  to the movie and with the way it’s written, you’re able to paint a picture better than the movie ever could.

6. American Gods written by Neil Gaiman

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635 pages, Published June 21st 2011 by William Morrow (first published July 2001)
“I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you’re alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.” – Sam, Chapter 13

Why? Reading this book is a truly unique experience.  Details, names and past events are thrown at you constantly.  Gaiman weaves a cohesive narrative out of these details and side stories that gives gravity to the whole thing.  The stakes feel huge by the time the climax has arrived.  He basically puts you into the eyes of Shadow, the main character, and makes you feel as if these strange and unexplainable things are happening to you.  It’s hard to explain this book because of how abstract it is but the lessons learned and the feelings after finishing it are one-of-a-kind.  You can only find out if you read it though…

 5. The Tao of Wu written by The RZA

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224 pages, Published October 15th 2009 by Riverhead Books
“Confusion is a gift from God. Those times when you feel most desperate for a solution, sit. Wait. The information will become clear. The confusion is there to guide you. Seek detachment and become the producer of your life.” – The RZA

Why? If you’re a Wu Tang Clan fan…if you’re a fan of the underdog… if you’re a fan of Kung Fu movies… if you just like a good ole fashioned rags to riches story… The RZA delivers.  RZA, as he’s become a master of in the music industry, defers to people that are better at the craft than he is.  He uses a lot of quotes in this book but he never loses his voice.  The advice he doles out, the quotes he picks, the stories he decides to tell; all serve a purpose: becoming a better human.  It’s an intensely personal book that delves into his childhood life as well as his Wu Tang highs and lows.  It’s a passing of knowledge out into the world, which is something I respect and more importantly, enjoy.

4. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life written by Mark Manson

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224 pages, Published September 13th 2016 by Harper

“You are already great because in the face of endless confusion and certain death, you continue to choose what to give a fuck about and what not to.  This mere fact, this simple optioning for your own values in life, already makes you beautiful, already makes you successful, and already makes you loved.” – pg. 203, …And Then You Die

Why? Some of the ideas presented in this book are common sense but they hit you over the head like a ton of bricks.  It’s unapologetic and makes you look at your own life critically and honestly.  Manson’s ability to make you feel and be honest with yourself and your life is where the most growth occurs for the reader.  Reading his advice and stories helped get me to that point, but it was in the quiet moments of reflection between chapters where the meaning really began to set in.

3. The Stormlight Archive written by Brandon Sanderson

  • The Way of Kings

  • Words of Radiance

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The Way of Kings: 1007 pages, Published August 31st 2010 by Tor Books
Words of Radiance: 1087 pages, Published March 4th 2014 by Tor Books

““Life before Death. Strength before Weakness. Journey before Destination.” – Teft, The Way of Kings, Chapter 59 An Honor

“And so, does the destination matter? Or is it the path we take? I declare that no accomplishment has substance nearly as great as the road used to achieve it. We are not creatures of destinations. It is the journey that shapes us. Our callused feet, our backs strong from carrying the weight of our travels, our eyes open with the fresh delight of experiences lived.” – Nohadon, Chapter 58, The Journey 

Why? My current series and one of the most fun fantasies I’ve ever read.  Planned as a ten book ‘archive,’ the series does follow a formula but one that it executes to perfection.  The character of Kaladin Stormblessed might have leapfrogged Harry Potter in my literary hero’s power rankings and the way magic and fantastical elements are introduced is brilliant.  So far, I’m two books down (which are the two titles you see above).  Information is teased out slowly in these books but with enough action to move the story along and keep you entertained.  My cousin Nora recommended it to me, and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in a good fantasy series. The books are long and a commitment is required but it’s worth it.

2. The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance written by George Mumford

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256 pages, Published May 12th 2015 by Parallax Press

“Respond from the center of the hurricane, rather than reacting from the chaos of the storm.” – George Mumford

Why? This is one of the most important books I’ve ever read.  This book not only helped me to be a better athlete but a better person.  Mumford teaches the art of mindfulness with the tenderness of a pre-school teacher and the experience of a grizzled war vet. Quite simply, he’s seen and gone through some shit and those experiences have helped him to guide people through all walks of life from prisoners on death row to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.  My copy of this book is filled with dog ears and underlined quotes and to be honest, this year was not the first time I read it.  It was the third time (but it still happened in ’18).  Anytime I feel like I need a shot in the arm or a change in life, I re-read this book.  It hasn’t failed me yet.

1. The Kingkiller Chronicle written by Patrick Rothfuss

  • The Name of the Wind

  • The Wise Man’s Fear

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The Name of the Wind: 662 pages, Published April 2007 by Penguin Group DAW
The Wise Man’s Fear: 994 pages, Published March 1st 2011 by DAW Books
*author’s note: so much wisdom is packed into these books I couldn’t just share one quote. Here’s some of my favorites:
  • “There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.” – The Wise Man’s Fear
  • “We love what we love. Reason does not enter into it. In many ways, unwise love is the truest love. Anyone can love a thing because. That’s as easy as putting a penny in your pocket.  But to love something despite. To know the flaws and love them too. That is rare and pure and perfect.” – The Wise Man’s Fear
  • “It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.” – The Name of the Wind
  • “It’s the questions we can’t answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question and he’ll look for his own answers.” – The Wise Man’s Fear
  • You may have heard of me” – Kvothe

Why? First, let’s do an impromptu, off-the-top list of my 5 favorite fantasy literary hero’s:

5. Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter 
4. Aragorn, Lord of the Rings
3. Harry Potter, Harry Potter 
2. Kaladin Stormblssed, Stormlight Archive
1. Kvothe Kingkiller, The Kingkiller Chronicle

My connection to the character of Kvothe is so strong that it supersedes anything else I read this year.  He’s an arrogant and flawed human being but you can’t help but root for him as he doggedly pursues his goals.  However, a great character doesn’t just make a story or a series great by him or herself. You need to have the storytelling chops to move that character and the reader to new places and Patrick Rothfuss excels at that.  This series can be maddening at times at the rate it doles out information.  But that’s part of the fun… You can only read this book first, once.  The first time is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in the way details are revealed and secrets are shown to us. (The reddit on this series is a strange and wonderful rabbit hole that’s almost impossible to parse through). I try not to say too much about this series because I truly feel it’s better to go into it without knowing anything at all.  Rothfuss and Kvothe do the storytelling just fine on their own.

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