Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Top Ten Books 2020

2020 might have been a hell of a strange year, but despite how hard it tried, it didn't manage to stop me reading. Still to come is my favourite post of the year, my annual fav short story list. But today here's my top-ten books (in no particular order) that I read for the first time in this crazed year of 2020:

Terrible Things - David Surface (Black Shuck Books)
"David Surface’s first short story collection is a reason to rejoice for all lovers of disturbing, off-beat, and ghostly fiction. Well-written and multi-layered, these stories are unpredictable in the best possible way: the author doesn’t allow the cliches of the genre to dilute his own personal vision. Put simply, these stories are some of the very best weird fiction has to offer."

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life - Ruth Franklin (Liveright)
An excellent literary biography of Shirley Jackson, insightful about both her personal life and her work. A must-read if you're a Jackson fan, which if you're reading my blog is pretty likely...

My Life In Horror Volume 1 - Kit Power
"quite simply just what I needed right now, in 2020, and it might be just what you need too" - my full review here.

Doctor Who: The Day Of The Doctor - Steven Moffat (BBC Books)
I thought this might be a quick read, a simple novelisation of the TV episode. Instead, I got a brilliant meta narrative about The Doctor character and Doctor Who the show, full of wit and genuine literary inventiveness. A wonderful surprise.

Boy Parts - Eliza Clarke (Influx Press)
A brilliant novel, dark, disturbing, laugh-aloud funny, and a bravura demonstration of both first person POV and an unreliable narrator. I love a good unreliable narrator, me.

Sing Your Sadness Deep - Laura Mauro (Undertow)
"as good as weird fiction gets." - my full review here.

I Am Not Your Final Girl - Claire C. Holland (Glass Poet Press)
"This collection of poems is based upon a wonderful idea: each takes as its inspiration a different 'final girl' from a horror film... Although based on imagery from the films, Holland's precise, sometimes haunting, sometimes brutal language creates something original and personal" - my full review here.

I Know Who Did It - Steve Mosby (Orion)
"Mosby's books are marketed as crime, and look, they are: I'm sure he'd hate it if I said anything wanky like they "transcend the genre"...but... well, it sure as hell scratched my horror itch as well' - my full review here.

Exercises In Control - Annabel Banks (Influx Press)
"These stories are dark, stylish, funny, and disturbing. While not supernatural in the literal sense, the realism of the writing is undercut/enhanced by the sense of something disturbing..." - my full review here.

The City And The City - China Mieville (Picador)
A novel about two fictional cities co-existing in the blind spots of each other (and of ourselves) which everyone has told me is a) brilliant, and b) must have been an influence on The Quarantined City. So I thought I better read it some day.... and you were all half-right: it is brilliant.

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