5 Favourite Reads of 2015

I concede that these lists of “Top X” anything are not without issue. It’s not easy to rank favourites from such an expansive selection of great fiction. In fact, one could argue is it not particularly necessary. However, these lists are useful to provide a literary snapshot of the year, although I will be the first to admit even writing these words feels a bit problematic. Compiling this list somehow feels strange, because I become aware of all the fantastic fiction I have read which is not included. Yet, it also makes me aware of my reading habits and enables me to expand my literary gaze in the New Year.

So, here is a list of our five favourite books of 2015, in no particular order. All are contemporary works; most have been first published this year, except in two cases where new editions of the books were produced. Let us know what you think, and happy reading to all in the coming year!

 

  1. Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

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This wonderful collection of short stories was published in October 2025 by Fitzcarraldo Editions. Although the tales are divided and given separate titles, they are all told by the same voice – an anonymous, hermit-type woman who has taken up residence in the west coast of Ireland. Each sentence is rich and engrossing; this is not a work to be read for plot, but rather it is a literary experience sure to enchant the reader.

 

 

2.  The Dumb House by John Burnside (Vintage)

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This haunting title was originally published in 1997, but was re-issued this year as a part of Vintage’s “Scottish Modern Classics” series. This is an unsettling tale about a man who becomes obsessed with the idea of language; how humans acquire language and what happens if the road to this acquisition is cut off. This is a dark psychological tale of untoward experimentation and unnerving psychopathic destruction.

 

 

3.  Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki  Murakami (Harvill Secker)

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This book was originally published in English in 2014, but the paperback was brought out by Harvill Secker in summer 2015, so we decided to include it in this list. This is a beautifully written book which tells the story of Tsukuru Tazaki, who is the only member in his group of childhood friends whose name does not include a colour. The story explores how Tsukuru, now in his thirties, returns to his childhood friends in order to discover why they suddenly cut off all contact with him. It is one of his more grounded works, and Murakami’s writing manages to be touching, without being overly sentimental.

 

4.  Upright Beasts by Lincoln Michel (Coffee House Press)

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This is the second short story collection on our list, and is the first work of fiction published by Lincoln Michel. These stories are all a little bit odd, perfectly apt as they deal with the bizarre reality of human nature – implicit in the title Upright Beasts. The collection is almost a study in magical realism and more, borrowing elements from all literary categories. Some of his stories are creepy, some are gripping and some are very funny, and the whole collection is simply brilliantly crafted. Michel is surely a promising emerging author, we look forward to what he produces next.

 

5.  Slade House by David Mitchell (Sceptre)

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The latest work by the notable British author was suitable published just before Halloween 2015. In Slade House Mitchell presents an absorbing take on the classic haunted house narrative. A series of nine stories told nine years apart, each with a different narrator, but all centred around the mysterious and disturbing Slade House. Mitchell perfectly captures the eerie nature of the traditional ghost story, much in the tradition of M.R. James or Robert Aickman. Yet Mitchell still manages to feel fresh with a few added twists and turns, and throughout the tale a genuinely creepy atmosphere prevails.

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Highlights | 19-25 Oct 15

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The New and Improved Romie Futch by Julia Elliott (Tin House)

Out this month from Tin House is The New and Improved Romie Futch by Julia Elliott. Tin House can always be relied upon to provide fantastic new fiction, and this title is sure to garner attention. Elliott tells the tale of down-on-his-luck Romie Futch who attempts to reclaim his life by enrolling as a test subject at the Centre for Cybernetic Neuroscience. There, he hope to become “new and improved” by downloading knowledge of the humanities subjects into his brain. Safe to say, things do not go as planned, and Romie ends up on the trail of a mutant beast known as “Hogzilla” – a thousand-pound boar possessing supernatural powers. Elliott’s book seems encompass everything we love – undeniably weird, with sprinkling of the speculative and Southern Gothic. We are eagerly anticipating out copy!

Find out more on Tin House’s website and read an interview with Elliott to find out more.

Read Publisher’s Weekly review of the book here and read an excerpt here

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 Vintage Classics Bronte Sisters Series
Granted, the Brontes are not contemporary authors, but the dynamic literary sisters are back in bookish news (not that they every really left!). In honour of the bicentenary of the Bronte, Penguin Vintage Editions are re-jacketing Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Anne Bronte). These fantastic new covers deserve a mention because they so perfectly portray the eerie and Gothic themes embodied in these texts, which often gets let out in mainstream discussions of the Brontes. The jackets were wonderfully designed by Sarah Gillespie, find her stuff here. And just in time for Halloween, too – the only problem is you feel the unrelenting urge to buy the whole set!

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The Masters Review – New Voices for the Classic Ghost Story

Gothic is most certainly the theme of the week – the finial item on this list comes from The Masters Review. October is the month of all things creepy, and The Masters Review is determined to let their spooky side shine! The state their aim for the month is to “to bring you as many different takes on the ghost story as possible”, and this week’s feature is the new short story “Clean Hunters” by Lana Valencia. If you’re interested in a bit of non-fiction this Halloween season, The Masters Review has also published some great essays on the uncanny (“Something’s Wrong in the Garden”) and the darker side of literature in their Literary Terms series (“Literary Terms: Gothic, Grotesque and The Uncanny“).

Highlights // 05 – 11 Oct 15

A selection of exciting things happening in the literary world! The high points of the week for us!

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Upright Beats by Lincoln Michel (Coffee House Press)

This new title was just launched by Coffee House Press earlier in the week. This is a début book by Lincoln Michel, co-editor of Gigantic Magazine. There has been a lot of buzz around this collection of short stories, with high praise coming from early reviewers. Michel’s writing ” reads something like translated Kafka”, according to The New York Times Book Review, so we here at Meglo are can’t wait to get our hands on a copy!

Upright Beasts was also featured in Vanity Fair’s list of “October’s 6 Scariest New Books”: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2015/10/scary-new-october-books-the-witches-stacy-schiff

Cofee House Press website: http://coffeehousepress.org/shop/upright-beasts/

Read Michel’s short story “My Life in the Belly of Beasts” on Vice: http://www.vice.com/read/read-this-story-from-upright-beasts-by-lincoln-michel

Follow Lincoln Michel on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheLincoln

Popshot Issue 14

Popshot Issue 14, “The Curious Issue”

Popshot  released the 14th issue of their magazine earlier this month, under the umbrella theme of “Curious”. Popshot is a quarterly magazine of poetry and short fiction, full of dark and strange stories, prefect for our taste at Meglo. Not only do they have a great selection of short stories with lyrical prose, the also produce amazing artwork from some very talented artists.

Find out more about Popshot here: http://popshotpopshot.com/index.html

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The Heart Goes Last Fan Fiction Contest

Write fan fiction inspired by Margaret Atwood’s latest novel, The Heart Goes Last. The competition is being held by Book Riot and will be judged by a selection of Book Riot staff along with Margaret Atwood herself. Atwood has thoroughly embraced speculative fiction in the past few years, so this competition could be of particular interest to anyone eager to write strange or dystopian literature. Best of luck!

Details on Book Riot’s website here: http://bookriot.com/2015/09/29/announcing-heart-goes-last-fan-fiction-contest/

Get the latest from Book Riot on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BookRiot

Highlights // 28 Sep – 4 Oct 15

A smattering of exciting stuff in the world of contemporary fiction. Relaying news on upcoming titles, bookish events and anything with a literary flourish.

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“Rules for Werewovles” by Kirk Lynn 

A brand-new book from début novelist Kirk Lynn, published by the amazing indie press Melville House. The story has been described as a subverted take on the suburban novel; the book deals with displaced people and unoccupied spaces. See an interview with Kirk Lynn here and a review of his novel on Boobpeople’s Blog here.

Links: http://www.mhpbooks.com/i-think-its-pretty-clear-youre-wrong-an-interview-with-kirk-lynn/

https://bookpeopleblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/read-this-book-rules-for-werewolves/

global_437444520The Horror Book Club (London, UK) – The Horror Book Club are reading the classic Dracula for their meet-up tomorrow, Thursday 8th October. A great group dedicated to horror and the Weird, they meet near King’s Cross station at 7pm. Details here for anyone interested in this or future events: http://www.meetup.com/The-Horror-Book-Club/

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Jeff VanderMeer – The author of the iconic Ambergris novels and the phenomenally successfully Southern Reach trilogy has just completed his new novel, Bliss. This will be his first novel since the Southern Reach trilogy, and is due out in either later 2016 or early 1017. But this is not the only project VanderMeer’s been working on! As usual, he’s been a busy bee; he and his wife Ann have a mountain of other schemes they’ve been working on. VanderMeer posted this list of his current undertakings on his Facebook page:

“Right. One informational post. My novel BORNE will be out in fall 2016 or spring 2017. The next one, BLISS, just went to my agent. BIG BOOK OF SF, almost 700k of a century of SF stories, is out from Vintage in June 2016. *This* year, our 900-page omnibus of Leena Krohn’s fiction is out Dec. 8. Ann’s BESTIARY antho (with original fiction from Mieville and Valente) is out in December as well from Centipede Press. In addition, we’re putting together a STORYBUNDLE for December (ebooks) that is like none you’ve ever seen. It’ll include the Krohn as well as Anna Tambour Michael Cisco’s The Narrator, and some other things I can’t talk about yet. BUT one of them will be an e-book of fiction by a writer out of print for almost 20 years. Finally, we have a month of events in Canada starting next week–will do a blog post about that soon. Both Ann and I are really exhausted, but I think it was worth it.”

Some useful links to VanderMeer’s Facebook page and VanderMeer’s blog