2016 was one hell of a year. One silver lining to the rather chaotic past twelve months is that there's been plenty of excellent reading to be had. Here are our picks of the year, originally published in Issue 1: Error.
THE COMET SEEKERS by Helen Sedgwick (Harvill Secker)
A lifetime feels a long time, but it’s barely a blink of an eye to a comet. Sedgwick encompasses a thousand years in a few hundred pages in a story where the sky is home, adventure, family and a new start.
FEN by Daisy Johnson (Jonathan Cape)
Fen is on one hand quite normal – couples, sex, pubs and marriage frame this short story collection. But within that Johnson weaves tales of magic and darkness and draws you in hook, line and sinker.
HIS BLOODY PROJECT by Graeme Macrae Burnet (Contraband)
It may have snuck out in 2015, but this book made a splash in 2016 by being the surprise guest on the Man Booker shortlist. A brutal triple murder in a remote crofting community in 1869 leads to the arrest of a young man. We know he’s guilty – we just need to know why.
THE GIRLS by Emma Cline (Chatto & Windus)
Based on the cult of young women that surrounded Charles Manson, The Girls takes a well known story and pushes the horror to the background. All the gruesome details are just an added detail to a book with the girls at the heart.
THE BRILLIANT & FOREVER by Kevin MacNeil (Polygon)
A book where you follow three best friends, where one is an alpaca, is always one to recommend. The annual Brilliant & Forever festival leaves participants facing either glory or infamy. Thirteen performers have a story to tell – who will be chosen?
THE GOOD IMMIGRANT edited by Nikesh Shukla (Unbound)
The Good Immigrant is the most important book of 2016. It’s as simple as that. Bringing together 21 exciting black, Asian and minority ethnic voices emerging in Britain today, it explores what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you.
WHERE AM I NOW? by Mara Wilson (Penguin Books)
You may recognise Mara as Matilda, or the cute little girl in Mrs Doubtfire. But she disappeared from the public eye for many years, and in this collection of essays she travels through her personal life, not being “cute” enough to keep making it in Hollywood, and her shift from childhood fame to more comfortable obscurity. Witty and candid (which is no surprise if you follow her on Twitter), it’s a great collection.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN by Born To Run (Simon and Schuster)
The Boss brings the honesty, humour and originality of his songs to the pages that detail his life. From growing up in New Jersey to performing at 2009’s Super Bowl halftime show, it’s a life you want to read about, from the man himself.
THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS by Neil Gaiman (Headline)
From speeches to pieces on his friends and peers, career advice to his work in comics and memory of his first Batman, Neil Gaiman leaves no stone unturned in his fascinating non-fiction collection including decades of writing about... well, pretty much everything.
THE MIGHTY WOMEN OF SCIENCE by Clare Forrest, Fiona Gordon (BHP Comics)
From A for Astronaut (Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space) to Z for Zoologist (the award winning Biruté Gladikas), The Mighty Women of Science A-Z is a vibrant crash course in vital women in science that history seems to have forgotten over time, bursting with colour and time-travelling adventures. Jump in a time machine and be fascinated.
ALPHA by Bessora, Barroux (Barrington Stoke)
Translated from French, this follows Alpha as he sets off from his home in Côte d’Ivoire for Paris, hoping to find his family, and a new place to call home. This graphic novel is emblematic of the refugee crisis the world currently faces – he’s one of millions on the move, frustrated, endangered and exploited on a journey that spans years. An important and timely read that illuminates the plight of thousands, millions, who are just seeking a better life.
THE TROUBLE WITH WOMEN by Jacky Fleming (Square Peg)
“The Trouble With Women does for girls what 1066 and All That did for boys: it reminds us of what we were taught about women in history lessons at school, which is to say, not a lot.” On top of learning about great women who were missed off the school curriculum, it’s loaded with spoonfuls upon spoonfuls of wit and sarcasm. You’ll learn a lot and you’ll laugh a lot.
Those are just a handful of our picks. Let us know what goodies you've read this year below, or over on Twitter.