Favourite books of the year

Before I commence the annual list of books I’ve consumed over the year that I wouldn’t hesitate to reread, a small but  important caveat: due to my commitments as official juror for the 2015 Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, I will hereby refrain from listing any books that have been or will likely be submitted for consideration. Rest assured, the list would be longer otherwise, but professional courtesy and objectivity forbids me to prematurely rave about potential nominees.

So, without further ado, a list of my favourite books of the year, 2014 or otherwise.


A strange, sexual, sensual story about a mother/son relationship. I cannot say with any assurance that I fully understand Apostolides’ brave novel, but I’ll never forget it.

North American Lake Monsters

I don’t mean to disparage some of the other very fine collections I read in 2014, but Ballingrud’s unnerving tales are unlike any I’ve read before. The true definition of genre-bending.


Part of me wanted a novel or gore and terror a la Cronenberg’s Scanners. But what I got was a chilly, J.G. Ballard-esque exploration of philosophy and consumer madness, which is far more interesting.


American Psycho

Finally got around to reading this. And yeah, it’s hard to read at points. It’s also one of the finest satires of the past century.

The World

Gaston is one of Canada’s great known unknowns, an author whose talent and verve is somehow taken for granted. Get off your duff and read him, will you?

The Magician's Land

There’s not much that hasn’t been said about Grossman’s Magician trilogy, so I’ll just chime in by saying that this is a spectacular finale to a modern fantasy masterpiece.


The Love Monster

How much do I love The Love Monster? So much that I devoutly wish Marston’s lonely alien is out there somewhere, pining away as his human love triumphs over life’s many speedbumps.

Cloud, by Eric McCormack

The long-awaited return of a Canadian literary master! Read McCormack, and realize that the world is vastly stranger than you imagine.

Every House is Haunted

A corker, a paean to everything that scares us. Like the best of horror fiction, Rogers has a way of tweaking even the most mundane idea and making it sparkle anew. Believe me, I’ll never look at a spider the same way again. Or ever again.



Carsten Stroud’s brilliantly bizarre (and ongoing) tale of crime, memories, and the supernatural provides ample satisfaction until the new season of Twin Peaks arrives.


Cordelia Strube is one of Canada’s finest explorers of idiosyncratic human behavior, and Milosz is a perfect addition to her oeuvre. Is it too early to label a character study as Strubian?

The Violent Century

Marvel Comics + John le Carre = greatest superhero novel of the 21st century (thus far, of course). Tidhar continues his winning streak of amazing genre fiction combined with astonishing talent.


Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy

While Jeff Vandermeer has been the hardest working man in literature for some time now, the Southern Reach trilogy has put him firmly on the map of the modern greats. Read it, and be amazed. And befuddled. And then amazed again. And on like this.

The Twenty-Year Death

Three novels in one, separate yet equal. Ariel S. Winter pens three crime novels in the style of three genre greats (Simeon, Chandler, Thompson). Only a breathtaking talent could pull this off. Which he does, of course.


The world will end in 6 months, but crime waits for no man. A fantastic conceit brought to vivid life, Winters’ book (and its sequels) is a bracing apocalypse/detective novel mashup.