Read in 2016

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I decided to read 52 books in 2016. Here’s what they were, including a very brief review of each…

Follow me on Goodreads while I attempt to hit an arbitrary goal of 70 books in 2017.

  1. High Rise by J.G. Ballard – Cold, dry, fun and violent. 5/5
  2. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson – Love, life, sex, gender, death. Beautiful and real. 4/5
  3. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin – What can I say? Great fun. 5/5
  4. I Love Dick by Chris Kraus – Seminal feminist memoir/art project. Wonderfully written with some beautiful sentences but missed the mark for me for some reason. 3/5
  5. The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley – Modern, British, gothic seaside horror. 3/5
  6. Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu by Junji Ito – The finest horror manga writer’s memoir about cats? 5/5
  7. Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito – Junji can not put a foot wrong for me. If you like horror, go and read literally anything by him right now. 5/5
  8. It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History by Jennifer Wright – If Cosmo produced your history textbook. “Every account of the English king Henry VIII’s life should start with the same basic question. How hot was Henry VIII?” 4/5
  9. Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle – Wanted so badly to love this story of a reclusive, disfigured by-mail game designer by THE Mountain Goat but this was my rating on Goodreads so I guess I wasn’t blown away. 3/5
  10. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston – Eye opening novel looking at race and love in 1930s (?) America. 4/5
  11. Maidenhead by Tamara Faith Berger – A totally fubar story of sexual awakening described by Miranda July as “a novel that terrified me to the end”. Stuck with me for ages. 5/5
  12. Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis – What would happen if dogs were given human intelligence? Hermes and Apollo make a drunken bet that results in a lot of life lessons from dogs. 4/5
  13. The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter – The beautiful melodrama of a teenage girl in less than fortunate circumstances. Carter is the best writer I’ve read. Read anything by her. 5/5
  14. The Sleep of Reason: An Anthology of Horror compiled by C. Spike Trotman – A collection of horror comics without the tropes. 4/5
  15. How to be Both by Ali Smith – What’s the difference between a troubled teenager in the 2000s and an Italian Fresco painter? Not a lot. Couldn’t put this down. 5/5
  16. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill – Fragments of a marriage. Abstract and touching. 4/5
  17. Wilful Disregard by Lena Andersson – Love as obsession. Painful and mundane. True. 4/5
  18. Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life  by Emily Nagoski – A really interesting look at science vs society/history in women’s sexuality. Important. 5/5
  19. Vertigo by Joanna Walsh – Another fragmentary and detached insight into the life of a woman. Beautifully written. 4/5
  20. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept – So poetic that I will have to read again but utterly beautiful. 4/5
  21. Fish by Bianca Bagnarelli – Is a 24 page graphic novel cheating? This story of a young boy in grieving doesn’t feel so short and hits hard. 5/5
  22. 32 Stories: The Complete Optic Nerve by Adrian Tomine – You can literally see Tomine developing his individual graphic style and off-beat storytelling through this short series of handmade comics written when he was 17-20 years old. 5/5
  23. Geek Love by Katharine Dunn – Warm and weird story about a circus family. Can not recommend highly enough. 5/5
  24. The Vegetarian by Han Kang – Surreal like a dream. 4/5
  25. We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler – Story of sisterly love with a twist that left me underwhelmed. 2/5
  26. The Girls by Emma Cline – How does anyone join a cult? Hazy and beautiful. 5/5
  27. The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood – Misogyny in the outback. Frightening and feral. 4/5
  28. Modern Romance by Asiz Ansari – Bit light on science and LOLs. 2/5
  29. The Changeling by Joy Williams – love, love, love. Everything is not what it seems when our heroine leaves her new husband for a new man, an isolated island, booze and some creepy kids. 5/5
  30. The Blindfold by Siri Hustvedt – Part murder-mystery, part romance, entire exploration of self. Brilliant. 5/5
  31. The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin – The men of Stepford are not happy about the women’s liberation movement. Simple and depressing. 5/5
  32. My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix – So. Much. Fun. Teen girl friendship * demonic possessions. Cute and gory. 5/5
  33. Slade House by David Mitchell – Easy to read and pretty original but lacking something for me. 3/5
  34. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson – I can’t believe I only just discovered Shirley Jackson. A beautiful story of selfishness, sisterly love, witchcraft and isolation. 5/5
  35. White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi – Odd and easy to read. 4/5
  36. Come Closer by Sara Gran – Well written horror?! 5/5
  37. So Sad Today by Melissa Broder – If personal essays are your thing, this is worth a read. I’m still to decide. 4/5
  38. Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier – Includes a few other horror stories by Du Maurier. Enjoyed much more than I thought I would. 4/5
  39. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? by Henry Farrell – Not bad but I think I’ll watch the film instead. 3/5
  40. The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis – This book is let down by the first two thirds. By the time I started to like it, it was over. 3/5
  41. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter – Fairy tales as they should be. Beautiful and horrible. 5/5
  42. The Power by Naomi Alderman – What happens if the women are in charge? Uhhh… Heavily Margaret Atwood influenced and I don’t mean that in a bad way. 4/5
  43. Consumed by David Cronenberg – Interesting story with a bit of cringe-worthy writing. Worth a read for horror fans. 3/5
  44. Surveys by Natasha Stagg – A brief burst of internet-fame. Fun, sad, abstract, arty. 5/5
  45. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay – Three girls go missing on a school trip. There’s a final chapter that wasn’t included in the original edition which adds a dimension to this book. Dig that out if you read it. 4/5
  46. Granta 117: Horror – Short stories from new and established authors on the theme of horror. No tropes here, just real life awfulness beautifully written. 4/5
  47. The Circle by Dave Eggers – Written in 2014, this already feels a little dated but only because Eggers’ story about the not too distant future hits the nail on the head. 4/5
  48. Bodies of Water by V.H. Leslie – Two women tormented by the Thames. Beautiful and original. 4/5
  49. Desperate Characters by Paula Fox – Times are changing, relationships are disintegrating and potentially rabid cats are biting. Life. 5/5
  50. The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink – A funny and sad look at a relationship with too much chat about eco-terrorism for me. I still loved it, but I tuned out a few times. 4/5
  51. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – Melodramatic and beautiful. Perfect horror. 5/5
  52. The Body Artist by Don DeLillo – A truly odd story of ghosts and grief. 4/5

Note: I assigned star ratings with very little thought. I would probably change these with more thought around each book, but as it is, they’re based on heart and gut alone.