Books I read in 2018 (some of which you should go and read as well)

As 2018 comes to a tinsel-wrapped close, tis the season once again for lovers of the written word to share the contents of their year’s reading lists. I wouldn’t recommend all of the below books for my dear readers but I’m happy to report that I found something of value in each and every one of them.

Sometimes, I disagreed with the author’s conclusions. On occasion, I found the writing shit. Often though, I found myself nodding and acceding – awed by a particular turn of phrase and wishing I’d written it first.

I scribbled enough notes in side columns (connected with bedlamite arrows) to create a lengthy Word document – which I did, for scholarly purposes. The resulting annotated bibliography currently runs at 67 pages – which seems impressive but is not even enough words to passably analyse a Roman Quaedvlieg Tweet.

Some of these yellowing piles of paper were even re-reads, plucked and dusted from the bookshelf. The books that were “second-time-rounds” now bear the graffiti of two different pen nibs.

For better or worse, Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut was the only novel I read this year (I confess I only did so upon learning that Vonnegut was a trained anthropologist).

That said, my better half informs me that we’re celebrating Christmas this year Icelandic-style with a tradition called Jólabókaflóð. Preliminary research indicates that it basically consists of drinking lots of hot cocoa and reading books. This I can live with. Perhaps the Jólasveinn will leave a novel or two in my stocking.

Here it is. The list of 2018.

Politics & Society:

  • We Were Eight Years in Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Democratization in the Maghreb, JNC Hill
  • Bandits, Eric Hobsbawm
  • On Anarchy, Noam Chomsky
  • On Kings, David Graeber & Marshall Sahlins
  • The Revenge of Geography, Robert Kaplan
  • Earning the Rockies, Robert Kaplan
  • Algerian Sketches, Pierre Bourdieu
  • The Line Becomes A River, Francisco Cantu
  • Tribe, Sebastian Junger


  • The War is in the Mountains, Judith Matloff
  • War in the Tribal Zone: Expanding States & Indigenous Warfare, R. Brian Ferguson & Neil Whitehead
  • Why We Fight: The Cognitive Basis for War, Mike Martin
  • On Aggression, Konrad Lorenz
  • On Violence, Hannah Arendt
  • On Killing, Lt. Col. David Grossman
  • Storm of Steel, Ernst Junger
  • Goodbye to All That, Robert Graves

Biology & Evolution:

  • Unto Others: The Evolution & Psychology of Unselfish Behaviour, Elliott Sober & David Sloan Wilson
  • The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins
  • The Theory of Island Biogeography, David McArthur & E.O Wilson
  • The Social System, Talcott Parsons
  • The Social Conquest of the Earth, E.O Wilson
  • Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution, Peter Kropotkin

Novels & Sports Writing:

  • Barbarian Days, William Finnegan
  • True Story, Michael Finkel
  • The Art of Freedom, Bernadette McDonald
  • The Push, Tommy Caldwell
  • Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut

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