At the end of 2018 I wrote an article for The Glasgow Review of Books where I selected three of my favourite reads of the year – GRB ask this of all contributors and they published my short story There’s a Joab Oan back in September (which you can still read here.)
Picking just three was tricky – in the end I went for Dave Cook and Craig Paton’s new cyberpunk comic Killtopia, Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (read here) – so I thought I’d make a longer list on the blog.
These aren’t necessarily books published in 2018 but just stories I enjoyed reading last year:
Do Not Pass Go by Helen Jackson (2018) – A short story featured in Edinburgh sci-fi magazine Shoreline of Infinity Issue 12. One of the most unique and fun time-travel stories I’ve read.
The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon (2007) – Set in an alternate history where Jewish refugees formed a nation in Alaska after fleeing WWII, Chabon’s take on a classic detective tale is anything but conventional, and stuffed with Chabon’s warm, witty humour and wordplay.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959) – Another one by Jackson – I was introduced to this by the Netflix series but apart from a few character names this is a very different beast. The balance of magic/mundane in Jackson’s prose is wonderful.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (2000) – a warts and all memoir of life in the kitchen, including violence, sex, addiction and lethal amounts of butter, by the late great chef, writer, and documentary maker Anthony Bourdain. This in part inspired a short story of mine due to be published this year (more on that soon!), as well as my own experiences working in the kitchen.
The Siren’s Catcall by Katie Dennison (2018) – Featured in Edinburgh indie publisher Monstrous Regiment’s second Issue ‘Emerald’ (alongside my own story Plant Life), Dennison’s short story is a hilarious and relevant twist to the mermaid tale (awful pun intended).
Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey (2017) – Rightful winner of the Orwell Prize, McGarvey’s discussion on poverty is a deep and thoughtful argument based on personal experience. It’s a book that can actually change minds, and there’s not much higher praise than that.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2002) – I’ve been getting more into graphic novels this year, and Satrapi’s comic about growing up in Iran in the 80s and 90s is one of those must-reads, like Art Siegelman’s Maus, of the medium. Both an examination of the dangerous, shifting terrain of Iranian politics and a personal coming-of-age tale.
With a Grain of Salt by Laura DeHaan (2019) — Technically not published in 2018, but as a reader and editor at Aether & Ichor I had the pleasure of first reading it last year. Published in the first issue of the brand-new look A&I, it’s a thrilling and gruesome original-world creature tale.
(Featured image: Killtopia #1 cover by Craig Paton)