My top pick is not surprising. Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming, László Krasznahorkai’s self-declared completion to his life’s work, is a monumental portrait of catastrophe, and though published in Hungarian in 2016, it feels absolutely of the moment, a depiction of a scattering world in which everything is devalued and no one has the resources to make sense of things. I wrote about it at great length for Music & Literature, and while I avoid the present trend of deeming any and every work of writing to be essential and crucial, I do think that Krasznahorkai’s quartet of novels will endure.

Otherwise, it seemed a bit of a lean year for books compared to the riches of 2018, and some of the best books below, like the two Laura Ridings from Ugly Duckling Presse, actually date from 2018. It’s wonderful to see another book from the always-brilliant Barbara Maria Stafford, and some very strong archival work in philosophy and classics appeared. (Sara Humphreys’s book on Athenian kinship is magisterial.) Melanie Mitchell’s book on artificial intelligence is perhaps the best survey of the state of the field I have read and is strongly recommended to all.

Many powerful forces encourage us to devalue knowledge, and to devalue even the very pursuit of knowledge. In an age of fear and encroaching chaos, this pressure grows stronger. It is my article of faith that whatever meaning can be gleaned from life nonetheless resides in expanding our epistemological horizons as far as they can go, and confronting the new frontiers even if we tremble in so doing. It is the only antidote to the myopia of lived experience.

Book of the Year

Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming

Price: $17.35

40 used & new available from $13.61

Literature

Unions: Two Stories

Price: $14.50

9 used & new available from $14.50


And Go Like This: Stories

Price: $17.59

29 used & new available from $12.72


Malina

Price: $10.34

26 used & new available from $9.97


The Prosecutor

Price: $96.74

1 used & new available from $96.74


Convalescent Conversations (Lost Literature)

Price: $9.62

15 used & new available from $9.62


Weeds

Price: $20.76

6 used & new available from $20.76


Experts Are Puzzled

Price: $12.25

6 used & new available from $12.25


Dictator

Price: $16.71

5 used & new available from $16.71


Love in the New Millennium (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)

Price: $16.88

21 used & new available from $16.88


Bad Words: Selected Short Prose (The German List)

Price: $9.99

28 used & new available from $9.29



All That Is Evident Is Suspect: Readings from the Oulipo: 1963 - 2018

Price: $18.78

33 used & new available from $4.86


Necropolis (Russian Library)

Price: $25.35

22 used & new available from $21.15


The Best of R. A. Lafferty

Price: $12.84

4 used & new available from $12.84



The Revenger's Tragedy (Arden Early Modern Drama)

Price: $14.69

24 used & new available from $14.69


The White Devil (Arden Early Modern Drama)

Price: $14.00

24 used & new available from $1.99


Where Reasons End: A Novel

Price: $14.99

41 used & new available from $12.99


Japanese Ghost Stories

Price: $10.42

27 used & new available from $9.99


The Labyrinth of Tender Force: 166 Love Stories (The German List)

Price: $30.99

39 used & new available from $18.54


World-Changing Rage: News of the Antipodeans (The German List)

Price: $17.15

33 used & new available from $15.03



The Magic: (October 1961-October 1967) Ten Tales by Roger Zelazny

Price: $39.23

8 used & new available from $39.23



Abel and Cain (New York Review Books Classics)

Price: $16.49

22 used & new available from $12.11




Krishna's Lineage: The Harivamsha of Vyasa's Mahabharata

Price: $99.00

5 used & new available from $79.12


The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison

Price: $33.91

25 used & new available from $30.99

Humanities

Ribbon of Darkness: Inferencing from the Shadowy Arts and Sciences

Price: $17.20

24 used & new available from $15.47


Catastrophizing: Materialism and the Making of Disaster

Price: $13.54

21 used & new available from $11.51


A History of Ambiguity

Price: $39.24

1 used & new available from $39.24





Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs

Price: $20.25

33 used & new available from $18.27


Cassius Dio (Ancients in Action)

Price: $80.00

12 used & new available from $74.40



The Oulipo and Modern Thought

Price: $51.99

1 used & new available from $51.99


Sophocles: A Study of His Theater in Its Political and Social Context

Price: $40.08

29 used & new available from $40.08


A History of Art History

Price: $19.54

25 used & new available from $19.54


I, the Poet: First-Person Form in Horace, Catullus, and Propertius

Price: $42.00

11 used & new available from $42.00



Magic in Ancient Greece and Rome

Price: $14.31

1 used & new available from $14.31


Reading Backwards

Price: $26.49

31 used & new available from $20.18




Nietzsche's Free Spirit Works: A Dialectical Reading

Price: $60.49

1 used & new available from $60.49


Archilochus: The Poems: Introduction, Text, Translation, and Commentary

Price: $115.28

13 used & new available from $106.83



Frame by Frame: A Materialist Aesthetics of Animated Cartoons

Price: $29.11

17 used & new available from $29.11


Chaucer: A European Life

Price: $22.48

31 used & new available from $21.95



Imitating Authors: Plato to Futurity

Price: $45.00

17 used & new available from $30.47


The Cypria (Hellenic Studies Series)

Price: $19.72

13 used & new available from $19.72



How to Read a Japanese Poem

Price: $16.19

1 used & new available from $16.19


Knowing Our Limits

Price: $33.80

16 used & new available from $22.04




Kinship in Ancient Athens: Two-Volume Set: An Anthropological Analysis

Price: $211.67

9 used & new available from $211.67



Philosophy, Rhetoric, and Thomas Hobbes

Price: $55.99

1 used & new available from $55.99



The Autobiography of Solomon Maimon: The Complete Translation

Price: $30.89

23 used & new available from $17.70



Hermann Cohen: An Intellectual Biography

Price: $63.99

1 used & new available from $63.99


Tragedy, Ritual and Money in Ancient Greece: Selected Essays

Price: $131.06

14 used & new available from $92.90


Ptolemy's Philosophy: Mathematics as a Way of Life

Price: $24.79

27 used & new available from $17.51

Science

Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans

Price: $14.99

1 used & new available from $14.99



Good Enough: The Tolerance for Mediocrity in Nature and Society

Price: $19.98

18 used & new available from $17.98


Mind in Motion: How Action Shapes Thought

Price: $16.21

23 used & new available from $12.43





The Emotional Mind: The Affective Roots of Culture and Cognition

Price: $26.08

1 used & new available from $26.08


Becoming Human: A Theory of Ontogeny

Price: $23.98

20 used & new available from $23.98


UNIX: A History and a Memoir

Price: $9.95

1 used & new available from $9.95


This View of Life: Completing the Darwinian Revolution

Price: $12.49

32 used & new available from $7.00


Social Sciences

Psychiatry and Its Discontents

Price: $16.17

1 used & new available from $16.17





Capitalism, Alone: The Future of the System That Rules the World

Price: $20.64

41 used & new available from $20.64


Creatures of Cain: The Hunt for Human Nature in Cold War America

Price: $12.18

36 used & new available from $8.70


The Ideas That Made America: A Brief History

Price: $13.69

19 used & new available from $9.50


Why Should We Obey the Law? (Political Theory Today)

Price: $9.78

1 used & new available from $9.78


To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture

Price: $29.99

17 used & new available from $24.01



Economy and Society (2 Volume Set)

Price: $73.37

19 used & new available from $73.37

History



The Boundless Sea: A Human History of the Oceans

Price: $27.40

13 used & new available from $16.91



Arabs: A 3,000-Year History of Peoples, Tribes and Empires

Price: $12.09

35 used & new available from $12.09


Iran Rising: The Survival and Future of the Islamic Republic

Price: $12.93

45 used & new available from $7.50



A History of Twentieth-Century Germany

Price: $40.98

21 used & new available from $37.73




Emperor: A New Life of Charles V

Price: $20.49

1 used & new available from $20.49



The Global Age: Europe 1950-2017 (The Penguin History of Europe)

Price: $14.99

1 used & new available from $14.99




Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History

Price: $28.00

32 used & new available from $22.19

Comics

Reincarnation Stories

Price: $20.44

13 used & new available from $20.44


Maggy Garrisson

Price: $16.39

14 used & new available from $11.58


Infinity 8 Vol. 3: The Gospel According to Emma

Price: $17.23

11 used & new available from $12.38


Clyde Fans

Price: $30.34

25 used & new available from $27.00


Stay

Price: $10.00

8 used & new available from $10.00


Bezimena

Price: $29.99

18 used & new available from $15.99


Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home

Price: $20.49

22 used & new available from $12.06


George Herriman’s “Krazy Kat”, The Complete Color Sundays 1935–1944

Price: $194.34

16 used & new available from $180.00


The George Herriman Library: Krazy & Ignatz 1916-1918

Price: $15.00

35 used & new available from $14.25



Petit: The Ogre Gods Book One

Price: $21.94

4 used & new available from $21.94


Half-Blood: The Ogre Gods Book Two

Price: $24.99

6 used & new available from $21.99


The Great Man: The Ogre Gods Book Three

Price: $23.99

5 used & new available from $23.99


Kafkaesque: Fourteen Stories

Price: $13.19

42 used & new available from $8.05


Heart of Darkness

Price: $11.39

39 used & new available from $11.39