Top 5 weird books I’ve read this year

Whats the weirdest book you’ve ever read, here is the list of the ones that I think are the weirdest out of what I’ve read this year.

5) The casebook of  Carnacki the ghost finder- Edwardian ghost stories in the Lovecraft vein with ghosts and monsters a plenty, the weirdness comes with the characters obsession for building electric circuit pentacles for safety

4) Assassination Classroom – we talked about this on the top 10 list and it is awesome but you can’t move past what a surreal concept it actually is as well, kudos to the writer for actually making it work

3)Food wars – This on the surface seems to be a sweet little manga, about an ambitous young chef going to a culinary school that is the top in the country, the only problem is that his food makes people have visions where peoples clothes come off and they make orgasmic faces as cherubs tickle them with feathers (very food as a metaphor for sex)

2)Consumed- David cronenberg’s films are pretty weird but this book is weirder. it has a strange story about north korea and a strange STD with all the strange links and absurdities you expect from a David cronenberg novel.

and 1) Prison school – This is a Manga that on the face of it sounded like a sweet if not weird little rom com about some boys who go to a mostly all girls school, and find themselves at the mercy of some evil prefects. It ended up however just being deeply disturbing, its basically the author working out a lot of issues.

honourable mentions go to The king in yellow, Batmanga and the art of asking, no is time for you to share your weirdest read in the comments below:


The 10 Best of 2015 – Plus honourable mentions

So Following on from the top 10 worst list and with this years total now at 314 books read, here is my 10 best and with the same qualifications as before they are in descending order, from 10 to 1 and they are my favourite reads of the year, they may not be to everyones taste but they made me happy, or excited or in more than one case just downright freaked me out (once again amazon links provided if you want to check any of them out yourself) so without further ado, lets start with:

10) So You’ve been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson  – I really enjoyed this book that looks at the new issue of public shaming of people perceived to be doing wrong and how you can survive it and what you can do to reduce the problem, looking at a number of cases from Justine Sacco to Max Moseley, this is all told with Ronsons inimitable humour and makes for a fascinating read

9) The Lady in the Van – Alan Bennett – In no way a new author but one of my new author discoveries for the year, I love the gentle pace and touch of northern humour throughout these books and will be seeking out more of his in the new year, this is based on a true story of someone who lived in his driveway for years and both the book and the film are well worth checking out.

8) House of Cards – Michael Dobson – Another book series I found by way of watching it first, I will admit to a slight addiction to the amazing Netflix  series starring Kevin Spacey as Francis. The books however really stand out for me as political thrillers with a hint of crime, the authors real knowledge of the corridors of power (he was a tory whip) lend this a genuine feel of authenticity and makes you worry about what really goes on behind closed doors.

7) Double helix (a personal account of the discovery of the structure of DNA) – James Watson – A personal Science hero of mine, and this book in my opinion has everything a popular science book should have, it contains enough scientific detail for anyone to follow including someone with an above average knowledge of the subject, along with details of other people involved and the process of the discovery itself. All told with James Watsons uniquely outspoken and since it was written in the 60’s slightly sexist tone he talks about a woman scientist as being quite pretty if she made an effort with makeup and stuff, but qualifies it by saying he forgot all that when she started talking about crystallography. This is a charming story of one of the last centuries greatest scientific discoveries and well worth a read to anyone interested in Genetics or the processes of Science.

6) Assassination Classroom – Yusei Matsui – A Manga series that follows a likeable teacher, whose students are trying to kill him because he’s a tentacle monster who has threatened to destroy the earth.  A silly concept told in a hilarious manner with some really deep undertones about educational ideologies  and whether exam results are all important.  Koro Sensei himself  is actually a fantastic teacher, I say this as a teacher myself and I love this Manga series.

5) Booker and cash (Bad sons) – Oliver Tidy – Oliver Tidy is another of my author discoveries of the year and this is my favourite series that he writes, the partnership of Booker and Cash, a police person and New bookstore owner in this novel are amazing and who wouldn’t want to live in a bookstore and solve crimes it’s like a dream job (oh wait I do live in a bookstore). Told as usual with a great set of twists and turns and really strong characters that you invest in, this is a good book to curl up with on a horrible winters day. As a sign of how good this book is, `I finished the first and immediately started the next because I got so involved something I rarely do with any series – an independently published author as well, well worth checking out if you like me love a cosy crime novel.

4) Secret History of Wonder Woman  – Jill Lepore – This is a fascinating look at the history of a comic book character through the history of its creator. William Moulton Marston the creator of wonder woman, was one seriously weird dude, he invented the lie detector, had a polyamorous relationship and a slight BDSM fetish, all of this combined with a well researched history of the comics and how it ties in with the early feminist and birth control movement in the USA make for a deeply fascinating read. I’m pretty sure that Santa is bringing me wonder woman comics for christmas

My top 3 books have not changed since my mid year top 10, and this is no reflection on the quality of things i’ve read since some of these following books and authors may be close to making it on to my all time top 10 list much like the ones on the worst list were

3) Ready Player One – Ernest Kline – A delightful ode to 80’s pop culture geekery, written by possibly one of the most geeky men in existence (he lent his delorean to George RR Martin so he could drive to a comic con). Set in a dystopic future it looks at people living in virtual reality because the world they live in is so rubbish, this is an all action thriller that is well tempered with a sense of joy and humour.

2) Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson – Another one of my new author discoveries of the year and someone who could give any author a master class in creating atmosphere through written language. This is the most creepy book I have ever read, I finished it in broad daylight because I couldn’t put it down it was that disturbing and I was too scared to read it at night and yet there is no real horrific events that happen in the story – there may or may not even be a ghost, just an ever increasing tension built through suggestion.

and Number 1 – The Circle – Dave Eggers – A dystopic science fiction novel set in the almost present day, about a company that isn’t or blatantly is Google, slowly taking over everyones lives by owning everything and seeing every interaction you have on the internet because of this (sound familiar). This again is a masterpiece of writing and is still number one on my list because of the sheer number of times i’ve seen reports about new developments on the internet or new ways you can you use it to help your daily life and said oh that happens in the circle. If you feel slightly paranoid about the internet anyway this may not be the book for you.

Also  some honourable mentions of books that didn’t make this top 10 but were close.

Joe Abercrombies half the world series (genuinely brilliant fantasy), Denzil Meryick (fantastic scottish crime), Joe R Lansdale (american cosy crime), Library of Souls (miss peregrine 3 love these books) and Gotham Academy ( fun little graphic novel)


The 10 worst books of 2015 (the best list is yet to come)

So following on from the interest in this last year, I have compiled a Best and Worst of 2015 again and will be starting with the worst this year, So far to date I have read 311 books and these are the ones that received the lowest overall ratings from me, in nearly all exceptions that doesn’t make them bad books just maybe not to my taste, so without further a do, in descending order from the least worst to most, are my top 10 terrible reads of 2015:

10) Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume- I read this book as it was on the Guardian book award longlist and this is one of the things that interest me and my reading group as it’s how we came into existence as a book club. This is not a truly terrible book, but it does seem to be going for the overly artsy literary award winning style of writing, which just isn’t really to my taste, I don’t think this book made a vast amount of sense or much of a point, that said its a quick read and just really isn’t my thing as opposed to a bad read in general, although it received relatively low rating from all my reading group. A story of one man and his dog on a road trip, included is the link if it sounds of interest.

9) Tenth of December by George Saunders – Again another book club book (sorry book club, but there are some of our reads on the other list as well). This is a book of short stories, which ordinarily really appeal to me especially short story anthologies as it’s how I discover a lot of new authors. These however didn’t really do it again, although the odd story was well written and captured the interest I found most to be quite boring and thought the collection as a whole suffered from the trying to be overly artsy again, artsy itself is not a bad thing but when the attempt takes over from the content the book loses out and this is what happened here for me again the link is included below.

8) Days of Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterheart – This is another book group book from the Hubby’s book club this time and it suffers from being tedious, it tells the story of a single mum and her grotty teenage son over a summer in the form of short comic strips, but there is nothing that overly stands  out about the story it’s not terrible it’s just forgettable and feels like a bot of chore to read. I have such little feelings about it I’m struggling for anything more to say.

Now we’ll move onto the books that actually made me slightly grumpy.

7) Grey by E L James – I am of the opinion that as long as you read that’s the important thing and I’m not ashamed to admit that I rather like both Twilight and the original 50 shades trilogy to the extent that I have read them more than once and seen the movies at the cinema, so I was rather excited to get a book from the mans point of view but this book is just a disappointment she essentially has just copied and pasted the first novel changed some names around and added the odd sentence here and there from the mans point of view, leaving the novel feeling exactly like what it is a cash grabbing idea from someone who hasn’t managed to come up with an original idea for a book.

6)Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham – So this book caused a bit of a controversy when it came out and having recently discovered the Genius of Caitlin Morans writing I thought I’d give this book a try and in this book Lena Dunham is trying to put a funny spin on growing up as a slightly awkward young woman, which is a fascinating idea. The trouble is she isn’t funny and the book itself is again a little insipid and underwhelming, there is no real shock value here which makes you wonder if the controversy may not have been encouraged to aid sales.

5)DMT the spirit Molecule by  Rick Strassman – I find a lot of the whole Psychedelic research stuff really interesting alongside with books about consciousness and why we think, and have recently read a few books along the theme, there is also a documentary based on this book which if you are interested I would advise watching rather than picking up this book, as it shows you the interesting aspects of the story without the authors increasingly self indulgent tone creeping in. The book starts off quite scientifically and discusses the affects of various psychedelics on the brain and the search for the soul/spirit using them, and even sets itself up as a scientific study. However it doesn’t carry on this theme, the second half of the book is essentially the author liking to listen to himself talk and pose a series of ever more unrealistic silly points based on very little if any evidence whilst referring to himself as a scientist. Not a book I would recommend when there is infinitely more fascinating writing on this topic easily available.

4) Deep Simplicity by John Gribbin –  This is a popular science book about chaos theory, which is a topic I find fascinating although a little hard to follow at times as I am a biologist by training not a maths student, although I have read other books on the topic. This book received a solid 2 star review from me as it doesn’t do enough to make this topic accessible to interested non mathematicians like me which means that it is failing in its purpose as a popular science book.

3)Flex Mentallo by Grant Morrison – Another comic book from the comic book, book club and there’s still one more to come, Although Grant Morrison can be an interesting writer, I really enjoyed his Doom patrol comics and there is elements of Super gods his non fiction writing on the history of comics that are truly fascinating, this comic received one of the few one star reviews (I only gave 5 in total) from me this year and its because the story again loses out to an overly artsy style. However this stands out even worse in a comic book because the artwork in this book wasn’t that great either.

Next are the worst 2 that no longer completely meet my they’re not that bad just not my thing description at the start of this blog, as I truly think these next 2 are terrible books for very different reasons which I’ll describe below

2) The girl in the spiders web by not Stieg Larsson – Again this suffers from a Similar criticism to my one of Grey, in that it is obviously a crash grabbing novel aiming to make money out of the overwhelming success of the original girl with a dragon tattoo trilogy. On it’s own I don’t really have a problem with that I loved the originals so much that a well written follow up would be excellent, the trouble is that Stieg Larssons estate chose the author against the advice of his long term partner who helped him develop the original trilogy and this shows in this novel which made me really angry and also received a really low rating from me. The trouble is I think it’s very disrespectful instead of taking us on another adventure with much loved characters it also goes back and tries to explain back story behind some of our most loved people in the original, now in my opinion if the original author didn’t feel the need to tell us this back story than we don’t need to know it so to go back and try to tell us it anyway isnt being respectful to the source material, especially as his back story is probably just the result of a very lame google search.

and 1) The heart of the Beast by Dean Motter – Another Comic book club pick and the only thing that could knock number 2 off my worst read of the year as this is going down as one of my worst reads of all time. Another book that tries to play with an original story in a different way this time Frankenstein which I don’t think is that great in the original, although even then I don’t think it needed this level of disrespect shown to it. There was absolutely nothing about this Graphic novel  that redeemed itself for me, it took a classic story and ruined it, it has terrible art work and is trying to be overly artsy,it’s incredibly 80’s which is amazing as it came out in the 90’s and you can replace the faces of the characters with the worst drawings of pokemon and they would have more expression on their faces than the characters in the book.  It is a truly terrible read on many levels and is just a downright awful book.