Posts Tagged ‘top ten novels’

2013 in Review: My Top Ten Reads

December 25, 2013 Leave a comment

Since 2008 I’ve been compulsively keeping records of every book I read, and this year I’ve read more than any year since 2008. As of the time of this writing, I’m up to 80 books read and I’ll certainly squeeze in a couple more before the year is out. That seems like an awful lot of books, most of them fiction. I know of one person who reads substantially more than I do in an average year (seasons greetings to Tehani Wessely), but no one else. Workmates can’t help but notice that not only do I have my nose in a book at just about any given time, but that the cover changes practically on a daily basis. Wrapped up in books, indeed.

So what did I read? About a third of these books can be classified as crime fiction. This year I continued to be enthralled by the works of Americans Megan Abbott and Daniel Woodrell, but I also read and enjoyed Australian crime writers Peter Temple and David Whish-Wilson for the first time. Probably another third fall under the loose category of literary fiction. This year I read pretty much all of Raymond Carver’s short fiction and I also discovered Zoe Heller.  And the rest are a grab-bag of young adult novels read for school (the best of which were The Hunger Games and Trash), speculative fiction (my recent Farewell to Science Fiction notwithstanding) and some non-fiction. In 2013 I also read literary journals in Meanjin and Overland.

Another focus for 2013 was reading more books by women. When I started recording my reading in 2008, I couldn’t help but notice that only 9 of the 59 books I read that year were by women. This year that figure is 26, about one third of the books I read. I continued to be impressed by the works of Megan Abbott and Pat Barker, both of whom feature in my top ten, but I also read and enjoyed works by JC Burke, Zoe Heller, Kaaron Warren, Felicity Castagna, Meg Mundell, Marianne de Pierres and Katie Stewart.

Onto the top ten, then. This isn’t a ranked list and I limited myself to one book per writer. I can wholeheartedly recommend these books to anyone and everyone. I’ve linked the images to the listing for each book on Goodreads.






Philip K Dick – The Top Ten SF Novels

March 20, 2010 41 comments

It’s taken me ten years. I’ve read each of Philip K Dick’s 34 science fiction novels at least once and as many as four or five times. Now I’ve finally ready to declare my top ten, in ranked order to boot! This is an entirely subjective list, of course. Feel free to add your own top ten PKD SF novels in the comments below.

A note on inclusions and exclusions. Given that I am limiting myself to PKD’s science fiction novels here, I am excluding novels that I would probably consider to be in the top ten overall, but aren’t science fiction (namely The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, but maybe Confessions of a Crap Artist too). I am excluding Nick and the Glimmung on the basis that it is a children’s science fiction novel, and not a particularly successful work overall.

Without further ado, here’s my top ten in ascending order of merit. All 10 of these novels are part of Gollancz’s SF Masterworks series:

10. Doctor Bloodmoney, Or How We Got Along After the Bomb

This novel features probably the strangest after-the-bomb narrative you’ll ever come across. A weird pastoral fantasy with a huge cast of characters, it is somewhat less than the sum of its parts.

Link to my review

9. Time Out of Joint

The first memorable novel of PKD’s career, and his only novel of the fifties to retain much of its relevance today. Aside from the last sixty or so pages, this is genius.

Link to my review

8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

A fast-moving, spartan police thriller forever immortalised by Blade Runner. It’s got some weird stuff in it (Mercerism?), but it’s a sheer pleasure to read. An effective piece of intelligent entertainment.

Link to my review


Most people would have VALIS higher in their top ten than this. It’s certainly among PKD’s most important novels, but here, I believe, the material got away from him.

Link to my review

6. Now Wait for Last Year

The quintessential PKD novel. Time travel, illicit drugs, an alien invasion and an ailing world leader (actually, several of them the same, and they’re all based on Benito Mussolini). What’s not to like?

Link to my review

5. A Scanner Darkly

PKD’s anti-drug novel is not only a vicious indictment of the sixties drug culture, but it’s also one of the most moving works he would produce in his lifetime. And there’s plenty of laughs along the way, even if it is gallows humour.

Link to my review

4. The Man in the High Castle

Sombre, slow moving, sedate…but about the Japanese and Nazis having won WWII. This is a classic that will be remembered long after the rest of us have been forgotten.

Link to my review

3. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

Widely regarded as PKD’s best novel, it’s hard to dispute that this is the pinnacle of the man’s career. Try making a film out of this.

Link to my review

2. Ubik

Aside from the first 70 pages, Ubik is the best thing PKD ever wrote. He just needed to edit it properly, which he never did. But the rest is so brilliant that all objections fade away.

Link to my review

1. Martian Time-Slip

A controversial choice for No. 1 perhaps, but for me this is the best thing PKD wrote. It doesn’t hurt that it was the book that turned me on to the great man in the first place. A number of scenes will haunt me forever.

Link to my review