My 5 Favorite Books of 2018

5. The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares
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4. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
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3. The Book of Monelle by Marcel Schwob
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2. Equus by Peter Shaffer
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1. An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter by César Aira
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Mö Zö says:

If you haven’t already read –
The Obscene Bird of Night
by José Donoso

The3rdpill Blog says:

Loved Bioy Casares. I’ve read “Morel” the 1st time around 1990, and the 2nd time something like 10 years ago. Maybe it is time to read it a third time …
I think my favs of 2018 were (I’ve read them in German, so no idea how good the translations in other languages are):
Queneau: Zazie in the Metro
Queneau: A Hard Winter
Schwob: The Book of Monelle (thank you for this!)
Mathews: Singular Pleasures
Topor: Mémoires d’un vieux con (can’t find an Engl. transl.)
Robbe-Grillet: The Erasers (I am not sure, maybe I prefer La Reprise)
Gombrowicz: Possessed (and COSMOS, but I am not sure if I love or hate that book)
Nabokov: Despair

Lukas Hermann says:

1. Wolf Wondratschek: Selbstbild mit russischem Klavier
2. Hans Joachim Schädlich: Felix und Felka
3. William Faulkner: Absalom, Absalom!
4. Thomas Mann: Der Zauberberg
5. Plato: Parmenides

Facundo Oblivion says:

1. El jardín de las máquinas parlantes (The garden of speaking machines) by Alberto Laiseca
2. The Vorrh by Brian Catling
3. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
4. Rashomon and other tales by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
5. The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

Libia Brenda says:

Top five of 2018… in no particular order:
-The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin (novel)
-No Time to Spare. Thinking About What Matters, by Ursula K. Le Guin (essays)
-Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman (kind of a retell of said myths)
-A Manual for Cleaning Women, by Lucia Berlin (short stories. I read it translated, tho)
-Manos de lumbre [Fire Hands], by Alberto Chimal, a great mexican author (short stories)

Southern Biscuits says:

I was shocked that I had read two of the books on this list, The Invention of Morel and An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter. A book I enjoyed from an Argentinian writer was The Sixty-five Years of Washington by Juan Jose Saer. The premise is of two friends walking the streets of a seaside town in Argentina talking about the birthday party held for a friend, Washington, who just turned sixty-five. That’s the plot. But, the conversations these two men have as they walk the streets of the two deal with so much more than the birthday party. Are you familiar with this book or the author?

Christophe Deckers says:

In no particular order, this is my 2018-top 5

100 Years Of Sollitude – Gabriel Garcia Márquez
Pedro Páramo – Juan Rulfo
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
1984 – George Orwell
Ice- Anna Kavan

Ближе с книгами says:

What a list! Thank you!

Carlos Rivera Fernandez says:

Blood Meridian
If Beale Street Could Talk
The Plantagenets
President McKinley
The Sun Also Rises

Paul Grant says:


Bookish Islander says:

Great selection! I’ve been meaning to read César Aira for quite some time. I might as well start with An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter.

all of them milking with green fleshy flowers says:

In no particular order:

Gerald Murnane – The Plains
Edgardo Cozarinsky – El rufián moldavo (The Moldavian Pimp)
Italo Calvino – Le città invisibili (Invisible Cities)
Robert Musil – Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (The Man Without Qualities)
Thomas Bernhard – Auslöschung (Extinction)

All of them are outstanding literary achievements, I reckon.

Encynical says:

Finally read Story of the Eye! Also, Robert Aickman is now one of my favorite authors. Thank you Cliff!

Jam2Evos says:

defs will check out César Aira’s book, I’m interested in what “physiognomic totality” entails, like if it means actively seeing the necessary connections of a place, or The Whole, like in a Goethean sense.

Top 5 books I read or finished in 2018:
Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Celestial Railroad and other stories
Michel Houellebecq – The Map And The Territory
Giacomo Leopardi – Canti
Walker Percy – Moviegoer
Giorgio de Chirico – Hebdomeros

Skyloft & The Shadow Cast says:

I have no idea how I’ve never heard of The Invention of Morel before, from your description that book couldn’t be any further up my alley. I can’t wait to read that and An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter (there definitely is something in the water in Argentina).

My top five this year:
5. Ben Marcus – The Age of Wire and String
4. Thomas Hardy – Tess of the D’Urbevilles
3. Milan Kundera – Life is Elsewhere
2. Yukio Mishima – The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
1. Gabriel Garcia Marquez – The Autumn of the Patriarch

Tyler Rush says:

I am late in my posting, but I wished to compose a brief list of some of the best books I have read last year. I heartily recommend each title!

1. “Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West” by Cormac McCarthy
2. “A Scanner Darkly” by Philip K. Dick
3. “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” by Fannie Flagg
4. “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
5. “Absalom, Absalom!” by William Faulkner

An addendum:

6. “Lincoln in the Bardo” by George Saunders

Tosh Berman says:

You have good taste!

Koty McNeal says:

White Noise, Don DeLillo

timkjazz says:

1) Going Native – Stephen Wright  2) My Year of Rest and Relaxation – Ottessa Moshfegh  3) City of Bohane – Kevin Barry  4) The Last Days of Jack Sparks – Jason Arnopp  5) What the Hell Did I Just Read – David Wong

David Einhorn says:

Mine are:
5: Confessions of a mask (mishima)
4. The fall (camus)
3. A heart so white (Marias)
2. Berlin alexeranderplatz (Doblin(
1. Suicide (Levé)

Psychotronic Sounds says:

Good sounding stuff on that list!
My top 5:
05. Cows – Matthew Stokoe
04. The Troop – Nick Cutter
03. The New Church Ladies – Jim Goad
02. Steppenwolf – Hermann Hesse
01. I’ll Be Gone In The Dark – Michelle McNamara

Jithin Jose says:

Why on earth you need to give such a detailed outline of the plot and spoil all the fun??!!! Say for instance, your brief about the Invention of the Morel.. It is one such book which relies on that inventive plot mechanism. Once it is revealed, the reader isn’t going to get much out of the book.

Octavio Alonso says:

As an Argentinian I’m SO glad to see two books (in a Top Five!) from my strange, awesome and complicated country. Even your first ever video was on Borges so thanks for all the kind words Clif 😀 As I told you in the Nick Cave documentary review (R.I.P.) you’re always invited to Buenos Aires. I wish you the best my friend.

Throck Morton says:

since the death of philip roth i went back and read goodbye columbus, a novella from 1959, made into a memorable 69 film with ali macgraw and richard benjamin, (the film was much more popular than the book, a reflection of mid 60s rather than late fifties). there is nothing particularly special about this book, certainly nothing that would resonate with audiences today, the subject of birth control being rather worked out and blasė, and the suburbanification of ghetto jews being a thing of the past, but it’s crammed with symbolism and metaphors, albeit mild, and the sentiment would not be lost on some of your older readers . . . it’s sometimes interesting to read subtle, almost seemingly boring stories, knowing that something is lurking just below the surface yet just out of reach. i would think that most young readers would feel this way about catcher in the rye, a book written in the mid forties yet still considered required reading on many student readers lists.

Christian Gonzales says:

5. The Crying of Lot 49
4. Child of God
3. Dubliners
2. The Brothers Karamazov
1. 2666

Thank you for all of these reviews, I look forward to each one. Hope all is well.

Paul Hobson says:

My top five are;

1) Divine Comedy – Dante (Clive James translation)

2) The Western Lands – William Burroughs

3) 1984 – George Orwell

4) Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco

5) The Mad Man – Samuel R Delany

Inés Rodríguez says:

I’m so happy to see two argentinian authors in your top five, you do them justice with your reviews. Really, it makes me so happy that you appreciate two people that many Argentinians have forgotten. Please read Roberto Arlt, a genius that was mocked by intellectuals during his time and led a very interesting, adventurous life, you won’t regret it!!!

Nina Rapsodia says:

favorite is nostalgia by Mircea Cartarescu

Don Kyo says:

Awesome choices! Read Siddhartha in 2017, very good book. My top 5 for 2018 is
5: Foundation and Empire (Asimov)
4: The Power of Myth (Campbell)
3: The Drawing of Three (King)
2: Circe (Miller)
1: American Gods (Gaiman)

Hatt Hanz says:

here are mine:

The Process – Frank Kafka
Book of Disquiet – Fernando Pessoa
American Psycho – Bret Ellis
Fictions – Jorge Luis Borges
Confenderacy od Dunces – John Toole

titus bramble says:

1. American Pastoral – Phillip Roth
2. Perfume – Patrick Suskind
3. Less Than Zero – Bret Easton Ellis
4. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
5. One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest – Ken Keesey

I do read books other than the ones you recommend you just happen to have excellent taste

Francis Barrera says:

Top 5

5. The Stranger – Camus
4. The Sound of Waves – Mishima
3. The Cement Garden – McEwan
2. The Brothers Karamazov – Dostoyevsky
1. Tropic of Cancer – Miller

Miguel Hernandez says:

No particular order

1. In search of lost time vol. 1 – Proust
2. Wise Blood – O’Connor
3. Hunger – Hamsun
4. The Portable Dorothy Parker – Parker
5. The Case for Animal Rights – Regan

Enescu Robert says:

There you go, lads (the order doesn’t matter):
1. The Broom of The System by David Foster Wallace
2. The Map and The Territory by Michel Houellebecq
3. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
4. Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine
5. Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett

Karla Robles says:

I recommend to read “The Overstory” by Richard powers, my favorite book of 2018 and one the best novels I have ever read in my life, so far. It remainded me of “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell and “4321” by Paul Auster. By the way, you must read these ones too.
The three are books with stories with many different stories, connected one another in different ways and creating a single one, like fruit in a salad, when you start tasting piece by piece until you can put a sweet spoonful in your mouth. Topics that would make you think for a while; plot that will blow your mind; out of the conventional narrative and very interesting and intriguing storyline.
Definitely, books to read before you die!

D Frew says:

OK, no one cares but here’s the Top 5 novels I read last year

5. Pierre and Jean – Guy de Maupassant
4. Another Country – James Baldwin
3. Johnny Got His Gun – Dalton Trumbo
2. The Sheltering Sky – Paul Bowles
1. Narcissus and Goldmund – Herman Hesse

True North says:

you should read mircea eliade , he s o good

niriop says:

The Businessman by Thomas M. Disch. A dark Bangsian fantasy about revenge, demon halflings, idealism, poetry, and a Jesus that flies a blimp.

Alex Patterson says:

1. Gormenghast, Books 1 & 2 – Mervyn Peake
2. Fossil Capital – Andreas Malm
3. Ada – Vladimir Nabokov
4. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Susanna Clarke
5. Ice – Anna Kavan

Dan Rosener says:

in no particular order
To A God Unknown by John Steinbeck
The Lonely City by Olivia Laing
the First Man by Albert Camus
Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe
The Tiger by John Vaillant

Foxy Lulu Lady says:

From Cesar Aira I recommend you How I became a nun (Cómo me hice monja).
I also included La invención de Morel in my best of 2018, extraordinary novel!

Bryce Woods says:

Duudee, check out The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea
Definitely up there with the top books I’ve read this year!
Like you, I read Hesse quite a bit and Steppenwolf is another goodie.
And to round it off, I finally read Into the Wild, a wonderfully critical work of the roaming free spirit Walden wanderer type with a heartbreaking conclusion.

Looking forward to your 2019 faves, please keep up the good work! (And your Dead Man review was bomb so don’t give up on the film reviews!)

Mørk Vandreren says:

I really appreciate your amazing work, Cliff. Thank you!
Here’s my top 5:
1. Crime and punishment – Fedor Dostoevsky
2. Demian – Herman Hesse
3. The Cancer Ward – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
4. Memories, Dreams, Reflections – Carl G. Jung
5. 12 Rules for life – Jordan B. Peterson

Doodles says:

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar was my favorite.

Zachary U. Geesaman says:

My personal favorites of the year
1. The Myth of Sisyphus
2. The Old Man and the Sea
3. The Metamorphosis
4. Post Office
5. Waiting For Godot

TheRedBaron says:

Are you gonna review any Dostoevsky or Haruki Murakami books?

Eri Maeda says:

My favorites of 2018;

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami
The catcher in the rye – J.D. Salinger
12 rules for life – Jordan Peterson
The undiscovered self – Carl Jung
Why we sleep – Matthew Walker
Ten selected love stories – Haruki Murakami

As living in Japan, it is difficult to be surrounded by books(in English) and find ones appealing to me in a bookstore. But your channel’s been playing the role of something like the alternative. Also watching your videos makes me like reading books more! An extra treat! Thank you so much for the work, and keep going!!!!

Patrick Weller says:

Hi Cliff, happy new year. Have you read any JG Ballard?

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