Looking back on 2021 and it’s a blur of a year that went by both so quickly and so slowly, I’m not sure if I was actually in it or just got lost in it, and sometimes I’m not sure it’s a year that even really happened at all. But whatever the year was or wasn’t, it was filled with some damn fine reads that gave me chills and transported me to far away places and generally provided me with some much-needed escapism.

Unusually for me, I finally got around to reading some horror classics, dipping my readerly toes into The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby, both far more unexpectedly amusing than I expected. I also tackled Rebecca which was enjoyable but also creepy and I’m sure I’ve heard people call it a romance and, well, erm, that strikes me kinda weird.

The reading shelves were full of everything from horror to science fiction to thriller to literary fiction, and here’s just a few of the books I had the pleasure of disappearing into last year. They’re all still jammed and wriggling in my brain coils, perhaps you’d like them there too…

How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang – steeped with a sense of place and history so real you’ll feel the grit under your fingernails and in your eyes.

Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley – a quiet but unnerving alien contact tale, the sort of science fiction that asks questions of humanity and identity.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro – a real pleasure returning to some science fiction with Ishiguro.

Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin – disturbing visions of voyeurism meeting social entertainment. Switch that Furby off.

Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw – perfectly formed, occasionally gruesome, beautiful horror set in Japanese folklore.

Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones – still makes my heart ache.

The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay – deserved winner of The Arthur C Clarke award, this is one of the strangest books I’ve read in a while, with interesting characters that are flawed and sometimes unlikeable but carry you along for this weird ride.

Here’s to more fine reads in this year of the future that is 2022. Happy New Year y’all.

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