I decided to share what the top ten fiction books I enjoyed this year were. I also have a list of nonfiction books, the books I didn’t finish for whatever reason, and the worst reads of 2020, but let’s start with the positive, shall we? This year’s top ten novels or novellas are:
Tastes Like Candy by Ivy Tholen
This book was fucking fantastic, and I didn’t think that I was somebody who would enjoy slasher novels. When I read fiction it’s normally horror, but I had no idea that some slashers would actually be my thing. This is a story of high school girls who are popular starting their senior year with a special, invitation-only scavenger hunt. Except that this year, most of the participants die. But you’ll have to read the book to find out why. I couldn’t put this one down.
I am Not a Serial Killer by Ian Wells
This is the story of a child whose mother works in the morgue, and who has been diagnosed as a sociopath. He knows he has urges to be a serial killer and yet he fights those urges. But he does know a hell of a lot about serial killers, and that concerns the people around him. This is a great psychological read and I hope to read the rest in this series next year.
Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones
I have this book on the list because it totally threw me for a loop with the ending, and it’s a novella and something I was able to enjoy and get through quite quickly, but was also a great story. I have another of his books, The Only Good Indians, on my 2021 reading list.
Jack and Jill by Kealan Patrick Burke
This book was an incredibly important book for me as a survivor of incest and rape, so it’s a very triggering story if you’re not ready for the content but I tend to both learn things and gain some level of healing through fiction and that’s often why I read horror. At any rate, if those subjects aren’t triggering for you, or if you’ve been through rape and incest and want to explore it through fiction, this is the book you need to read. Kealan Patrick Burke is a great horror writer and I have more of his work on my list for 2021. His book Kin is already on my Kindle waiting to be read.
Woom by Duncan Ralston
This books is disgusting, and at first I thought that I didn’t really like it, but it’s definitely my most memorable read this year. It was so weird that I couldn’t forget the story if I tried, and that makes it a damn good story. It’s a story that I will never forget. This is a quick but intense read, can be read in a couple of hours. I read it in one sitting, I couldn’t put it down, it was a fucking train wreck. I have several more of Ralston’s work on my Kindle waiting to be read in the new year.
The Lost by Jonathan Aycliffe
My first introduction to Jonathan Aycliffe was Naomi’s Room, which was fantastic and made me want to read more of his work. The Lost shows us the truth of the concept that often, power, fame, and money corrupt people. The book was highly disturbing but a worthwhile read. Besides, horror is supposed to be disturbing. Since I have basically lived a life worthy of a horror movie, it was a good read for me to remember that a lot of the horror I went through was because of people who were hell bent on being powerful that they would not let anything get in their way, and the pursuit of power corrupted them. I will probably read more of Aycliffe in the new year.
The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
This is Alexis Henderson’s debut novel, and as someone who grew up in a fundamentalist cult, I also resonated deeply with this story and it was great to be able to see some things through the eyes of fiction that made the story important to my own healing. I hope to see her write more novels in the future.
The Miracle by Nathan Monk
I don’t read Christian fiction. I just don’t. It’s terrible, and it’s sanitized and sickly sweet with perfect people with perfect lies who don’t even swear and have two kids and a white picket fence and well, I can’t relate to that kind of bullshit. But, Nathan Monk isn’t that kind of Christian or that kind of Christian writer and so I bought his book and am glad that I did. It’s about real people with real lives just trying to sort things out. It’s about my kind of Christian people: the imperfect, the lonely, the rough, those who live on the outside of what is socially acceptable. If you have not yet read The Miracle, make sure it’s on your list for 2021.
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
This is probably the only “literary” novel that I read this year, as I don’t tend to enjoy those as much as pulp fiction, but the premise was something that drew me in and it was on sale one day for Kindle, and so I bought it as a wildcard book and it ended up being fantastic. It’s about a girl with multiple personalities, except that her personalities are gods, and they are like the story of the devil and the angel sitting on your shoulder both whispering opposing viewpoints in your ears.
Between the Shadow and Lo by Lauren Sapala
Lauren Sapala’s autobiographical fiction novel about her addiction is fantastic, and she was my gateway drug into the world of autobiographical fiction, which is now a genre I’m intending to write my horror novel as. It has so much diversity because the story is true, but some of it is also fictionalized, which really doesn’t make the story any less true. I’ve done plenty of recovery reading this year but I really enjoyed this novel as a look into the world of addiction. For some addicts, reading stories of addiction is not beneficial to their recovery, but for me it is beneficial as long as it’s not all that I read. Like I’ve pointed out, I tend to learn a lot through stories.
And while you’re thinking about reading in the new year, try out my two short stories available exclusively on Kindle for $1.29 each or free on Kindle Unlimited. My latest short story is I Sold my Soul to a Vampire, and the other is The Monsters in my Room.