2018 was by far my biggest reading year. Based off my Audible and Goodreads account, I believe I read around 90 books. That’s an average of nearly two books a week. So if the average audiobook is 10-14 hours, that means I spent about 3 hours a day listening to an audiobook, or nearly 20 percent of my waking hours.
I might have an addiction.
Here’s the breakdown of the genres:
22.8% General Science Fiction
19.5% Military Science Fiction
4.3% Science Fiction- Comedy
3.2% General Fiction
The LitRPG Genre.
Before 2018, I hadn’t read more than a handful of LitRPG books, but this year, I read over 40. Something about this genre really hooked me. If you are unfamiliar with the genre, that’s not a surprise. It’s relatively new to the publishing scene.
These books are usually a strange combination of fantasy and science fiction wherein the protagonist enters a virtual world by some means and needs to level up their character, learn skills, and improve their stats, before they ultimately face the antagonist. I’ve never been a huge gamer, which proves you don’t have to be in order to pick up this genre.
These books take character development to a whole new level. Their skills are defined and upgradable as are their physical and mental stats. Each can be improved predictably by practicing, completing quests, or by killing a few beasts (mobs). The same goes for items. Characters can know exactly how much damage a sword will do, what it’s made of, and if it has any special modifications or attributes just by picking it up and examining it. The typical loot system, wherein items or coins drop with every monster killed, also provides a sense of immediate gratification following conflict.
Of course, like any other genre, some of the books I’ve stumbled across were pretty bad or amateurish. To save you the trouble of having to sort the good from the bad, I’ve listed my top ten favorite LitRPG series, ranked from my favorite (#1) to my least favorite but still recommended (#10):
#1- The Land Series by Aleron Kong
A man is sucked into a fantasy world of pixies, sprites, dwarves, and other races. He learns that game mechanics are an actual law of the land, and so he plays it like he would any other game, often getting in over his head as he levels, gains skills, riches, and tries to build a settlement in the middle of the forest. These books are well written and fun, but the main character moves from one quest to another so quickly and often fails to complete them, it can be a bit annoying. Additionally, the main character can sometimes come across as sexist and overly macho.
#2- The Ritualist and Regicide by Dakota Krout
This series is very typical of the genre. It has a rough start, but gets better when the main character finally enters the virtual world. He picks up a very uncommon magical ability that sets him apart from the other mages, which they don’t take well. Uncovering conspiracies and overthrowing powerful people are just a prelude to a bigger quest, to save the entire human race.
#3- The Divine Dungeon Series by Dakota Krout
This is a very unique spin on the genre, told from the perspective of a living dungeon. It must evolve, create creatures, and drop loot, all in an effort to draw more adventurers in. Because if they die in him, he gets their power. You soon learn, however, that he is a unique dungeon, and forges cautious alliances with humans in order to combat greater threats.
#4- Threadbare Series by Andrew Seiple
When an animator creates a new type of golem, he is disappointed in the results. Thinking he’s just created another stupid, living toy, he gives it to a girl as a gift, who soon discovers this stuffed teddy bear, is anything but stupid. It is now sentient, and can level and grow in skill just like a human can. She helps him grown until she is taken from him. Now it’s up to a teddy bear to save her, and while he’s at it, he might as well save the rest of the realm too.
#5- Eden’s Gate Series by Edward Brody
Logging in to a game for the first time, the main character finds that he has been trapped there, along with everyone else. Death would prove fatal, so he has to increase his strength and make allies to stay alive.
#6- Life Reset by Shemer Kuznits
When the main character is transformed into a level 1 goblin by a magic scroll, he vows to raise a goblin army and take revenge. Except keeping his goblin character could prove fatal to him in real life. With the help of one of the games AIs he has to speed level as quickly as possible to avoid that fate.
#7- The Dark Herbalist Series by Michael Atamanov
Beta testing a new game for a little bit of pay, the main character is forced to become a goblin herbalist. Except he’s inherited a few attributes no other players have, and he uses them to make himself one of the top players in the game, securing wealth so that he and his sister can have a better life in the real world.
#8- Awaken Online Series by Travis Bagwell
The main character doesn’t have a great life, all things considered, and soon he finds himself kicked out of school and with loads of free time to play a new game. He soon discovers that real life has a way of catching up to him in game, especial since he’s gone and made a name for himself. Not as a hero, but as a villain.
#9- Ascend Online by Luke Chmilenko
Able to enter the virtual world for days at a time, a group of friends decides to login together and start a guild. Except the main character didn’t appear where he was supposed to. When his friends come to find him, they see he’s found the ideal place to set up their guild, so long as they can defend it from everyone else.
#10- Viridian Gate Series by James A Hunter
An asteroid is headed to Earth, and the only escape, for those who can afford it, is to download their consciousness into a virtual world. Except this virtual reality is run by those who paid to play, and their wealth gives them a huge advantage over everyone else. The main character doesn’t want to live under their rule, so he decided to revolt, but he’s got very little resources to work with.
The other great books I read last year.
All-in-all, the LitRPG genre was a fun diversion from my usual reads, but the genre might not be for everyone. That said, here is a list (in no particular order) of some of the other books (non-LitRPG) I read last year that I really enjoyed:
Terms of Enlistment: Frontlines, Book 1 by Marko Kloos
Lines of Departure: Frontlines, Book 2 by Marko Kloos
Angles of Attack: Frontlines, Book 3 by Marko Kloos
Chains of Command: Frontlines, Book 4 by Marko Kloos
Fields of Fire: Frontlines, Book 5 by Marko Kloos
Points of Impact: Frontlines, Book 6 by Marko Kloos
A Gift of Time by Jerry Merritt
Semiosis: A Novel by Sue Burke
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey
Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw
The Singularity Trap by Dennis E. Taylor
Saturn Run by John Sandford Ctein
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
Sea of Rust: A Novel by C. Robert Cargill
The Reluctant Adventures of Fletcher Connolly on the Interstellar Railroad by Felix R. Savage
Not Alone by Craig A. Falconer
Brilliance by Marcus Sakey
2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
Level Five by William Ledbetter
Influx by Daniel Suarez
The Naturalist: The Naturalist, Book 1 by Andrew Mayne
Planetside by Michael Mammay
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson
Quarter Share: A Trader’s Tale from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper, Book 1 by Nathan Lowell
Half Share: A Trader’s Tale from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper, Book 2 by Nathan Lowell
Full Share: A Trader’s Tale from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper, Book 3 by Nathan Lowell
Double Share: A Trader’s Tale from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper, Book 4 by Nathan Lowell
Captain’s Share: A Trader’s Tale from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper, Book 5 by Nathan Lowell
Owner’s Share: Trader’s Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper, Book 6 by Nathan Lowell
In Ashes Born: A Seeker’s Tale from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper, Book 1 by Nathan Lowell
To Fire Called: A Seeker’s Tale from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper, Book 2 by Nathan Lowell
The Last Tribe by Brad Manuel
Rookie Privateer: Privateer Tales, Book 1 by Jamie McFarlane
You’re Going to Mars! by Rob Dircks
Where the Hell is Tesla?: A Novel by Rob Dircks
Please feel free to leave your own recommendations. I’ll need all I can get if I hope to read just as many books in 2019.
Happy New Year!