The fact of the matter is, I probably read more books not published in each given year than those that are published in the current year. I'm always impressed with those who focus on reading mostly new books. Of course, this is coming from a chronically slow reader. There are just so many great books out there and even if I were a fast reader, there are just too many great books to get to that you couldn't possibly get to in any given year.
So, let's get on with my list of notable books I've read in 2017! These are listed chronologically in order read from January through December.
- THE HOTTEST GAY MAN EVER KILLED IN A SHARK ATTACK by Douglas Hackle (2016) Douglas Hackle: I started the year off reading Douglas Hackle's first long form story because I'd seen so many other fans of Bizarro say this was a strong contender for top Bizarro book of the year. Ya know what, they were right! This is a jolly good story about a sentient sled, the detached arm of a famous rock star, a polar bear-headed keytar player and a not-so-hot gay guy who take off on a road trip of epic proportions. It is as awesome as it sounds!
- TANUKI TANGO OVERDRIVE by Arthur Graham (2016) Arthur Graham: Arthur Graham is an author and editor that's been in the bizarro game for quite sometime. Since stepping away from Rooster Republic Press he's gone on to edit the Horror Sleeze Trash Zine as well as focus more on his own writing. Tanuki Tango Overdrive was a fun romp that took me by surprise. It's a funny, over-the-top action adventure similar to A. Lee Martinez. Check out this hidden gem for a good laugh. Oh yeah and Tanukis are real and they have giant balls. Really!
- THE NIGHTLY DISEASE by Max Booth III (2016) Perpetual Motion Machine: Originally published by the now defunct DarkFuse and since reissued by Perpetual Motion Machine, THE NIGHTLY DISEASE was another book I made a point of reading due to all the hype I'd seen the previous year on this darkly funny tale of life as a hotel night auditor. This is the type of book that takes you behind the scenes of a job you never knew could be so interesting. Okay, so, maybe author Max Booth III punches up the action from the true, ordinary and mundane night to night life on the job. But, if you've read Confession of a Hotel Night Auditor blog then maybe you realize there is an uncomfortable amount of truth to this dark, bizarre thriller.
- THE FIRST CUT by Chuck Buda (2016) La Cigolli Publishing: Every year there seems to be at least one book I read that I enjoy even thought it has a lot of technical flaws. This year, Chuck Buda's The First Cut is that book. I loved the story and the characters in The First Cut. This is a very graphic, sexually perverse and violent story. It also represents a maturing in the storytelling skill of the author. I gave it three stars at first because of a few technical aspects that I felt hurt the overall reading experience. However, in the end, many months later this book still sticks to me. I can't wait to read on further in the series and see how it all plays out.
- HOME IS WHERE THE HORROR IS by CV Hunt (2017) Grindhouse Press: CV Hunt is on the list again this year after winding up on last year's list with my uber-favorite, Ritualistic Human Sacrifice. I didn't think Hunt could follow-up such a strong book but Home Is Where The Horror Is is as nearly as strong an effort as the aformentioned book. This is a very real, very visceral story with vivid characters and a rather unique monster. Great horror and a book actually published in the year I read it! This one stuck to my ribs as well since reading it.
- HUSK by Rachel Autumn Deering (2016) Tiny Behemoth Press: Yet another book I read to catch up on the buzz books of 2016. I wanted to grab a signed copy of this at a convention Deering and I were both at but unfortunately I was also vending books at a table and never had the opportunity to meet her. Nevertheless I grabbed the digital copy and found out what all the hubbub was about. In some ways this was similar in tone and feel to CV Hunt's Home Is Where The Horror Is and it's still unique unto itself. The monsters battled in this one come from within. Right. Right? Right!
- MINIVAN POEMS by Justin Grimbol (2016) Thicke & Vaney Press: This is exactly what it says it is, a book full of poems about minivans. Yet, you still cannot prepare yourself for the wonderful poems held within. These are very short, bite-sized poems that are an ode to minivans, country living, down-home folks, loved ones and butt. Lots of butts. I am not one for poetry at all but Justin Grimbol makes poetry a wonderful art accessible to everyone. I need more Minivan Poems in my life. And a hard copy of this book to put out on my coffee table.
- SPUNGUNION by John Boden (2017) Dynatox Ministries: Right at the end of the year I read two fantastic books. Spungunion is one of those books. This one took me by surprise. I'd read another of Boden's books last year. I saw this title and thought the premise sounded pretty cool. The introduction by Bracken MacLeod stresses that no two John Boden stories are alike and boy is that the truth. Spungunion is nothing like Jedi Summer (the book I mentioned previously). Spungunion is some folksy, truck, road trip horror. The writing is keen and vivid. The prose is poetry. It's a short book but it packs a wallop. This is like Convoy if Convoy was a surreal horror thriller.
- IS WINONA RYDER STILL WITH THAT DUDE FROM SOUL ASYLUM? AND OTHER LURID TALES OF TERROR AND DOOM!!! by Douglas Hacks (2017) Douglas Hackle: I start and end with Douglas Hackle. The only author who I read two of their works in 2017 and both knocked it out of the park. This book is a collection of absurdist short stories, the realm in which Hackle really shines. This should be taught in Bizarro lecture halls the world over. Perfection of the genre. This is how weird fiction is done.
So, there you have the top of my reading list for 2017. I don't like to stamp the list at 10 or 20 or anything like that. This is just the most enjoyable reads of the year. The list is longer than last year's which only featured six books. This year come in at nine. I put away more books than I did last year and I think overall I read a lot more quality stuff that the previous year.
Some honorable mentions that didn't make the list would be: SUNFALL by Tim Meyer, Chad Scanlon and Pete Draper. M.R. Tapia's THE DIE-FI EXPERIMENT. JOHN WAYNE LIED TO YOU by John Wayne Comunale, VERY TRUE STORIES STARRING JEFF O'BRIEN by Jeff O'Brien. And CHILDREN OF THE DARK by Johnathan Janz.
I've already got a full reading list of what promises to be top notch shit for 2018. If the titles I have at the top of my To Be Read pile are any indication of the year in reading to come, it will prove to be a banner year in reading. Hope you're year in reading will be grand as well.
You can check out my full list of books read for 2017 HERE.