January and February are always busy reading months for me. Scotland isn’t known for its sunny weather, and generally the start of the year is pretty cold and windy – and to me, lovely, as it means I get to stay in with a good book and a cup of something hot. Bliss. It’s been a particularly good few months for graphic novels and short stories for me, so perhaps next month I’ll get stuck into a longer novel.
Here are the best books I’ve read so far this year:
The Fire Eater’s Lover, Sophia Blackwell – As soon as I finished this raw, addictive, affectionate poetry collection, I went back to the start and read it all again. One of my new favourites.
Good Dream, Bad Dream: The World’s Heroes Save the Night!, Juan Calle & Serena Valentino – I read a surprising amount of children’s books for someone who doesn’t have any children. This beautifully-illustrated bilingual book is a great introduction to world mythologies.
From the Obscenely Strange Case Files of Dead Things Mikey, Joel Farrelly – I often wish that CreepyPastas were better written, longer and funnier. And then Joel Farrelly came along and granted my wish.
If I Were You, Graeme Keeton – I dipped a toe into the wild world of free Kindle books, and not surprisingly they’re mostly terrible, but then I found this gem. Keeton’s stories are strange, imagnitive and beautifully written, which is my favourite combination.
Sweet Tooth, Jeff Lemire – I was drawn to this cover as I wrote a story years ago about a teenage girl with antlers. Lemire’s antlered character is a boy, raised in isolation following a pandemic. I loved this book and look forward to the next in the series.
Discovering Scarfolk, Richard Littler – This is the funniest, darkest book combining 1970s nostalgia and graphic design that I’ve ever read.
All the Lives I Want: Essays About My Best Friends Who Happen to Be Famous Strangers, Alana Massey – The perfect mix of intelligent insight and light readability. The essays on Sylvia Plath, Courtney Love and Left-Eye Lopes were particularly great, and made me think differently about how we consider and discuss female celebrities. I also had a soft spot for the chapter on Being a Winona vs. Being a Gwyneth (Winona forever, obvs). Buy a copy of this book for yourself, then more copies to give to all the 15-35 year old women you know.
The October Faction, Steve Niles – A graphic novel mixing The Addams Family and Locke & Key (but better). The art, story and characters are all excellent. I love this series.
The Whale that Fell in Love with a Submarine, Akiyuki Nosaka – Short, fable-like stories about Japan in 1945. Even though it’s very short, it took me many months to read as I needed to have a break after each story. Surreal and devastating.
Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse, Ben Templesmith – Love the artwork, the stories, the characters, the humour, the world – everything, really.
Jagannath, Karin Tidbeck – I wish this book was three times the length so I could be absorbed in this strange, wintery, surreal Scandinavian-folklore-inspired world longer. I could read Karin Tidbeck’s stories all day, every day.
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What are the best books you’ve read recently?