Anti-Christmas reads for Grinches

With less than a month to go until Christmas Day, the celebrations have well and truly begun. Here is a recommended reading list for people looking to escape the jangle of jingle bells and glimmer of tinsel this ‘festive season’. Bah humbug…


Lullaby by Leila Slimani (translated by Sam Taylor)

When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she discovers what seems to be the perfect caretaker in Louise – a quiet, polite and devoted woman who cleans, stays late and hosts enviable children’s parties. But as the couple and nanny become more dependent on each other, resentment and suspicions grow with devastating consequences.


Wintering by Krissy Kneen

Jessica lives in rural Tasmania with her unpredictable partner, Matthew. When he disappears into the wilderness, she’s contacted by a group of women whose boyfriends and husbands have gone missing in similar circumstances, and who believe they were all taken by something unnatural. Feeling increasingly isolated in the tiny settlement, Jessica’s sanity starts to waver.


Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (translated by Jonathan Wright)

From the rubble-strewn streets of US-occupied Baghdad, the scavenger Hadi collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His mission is for the the government to recognise the parts as people and give them a proper burial, but then the corpse goes mysteriously missing. Cue a wave of eerie murders and reports of a horrendous-looking criminal who cannot be killed…


The Outsider by Stephen King

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park and the evidence all points to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens: Terry Maitland. Certain that his case is ironclad, Detective Ralph Anderson orders a quick and very public arrest of the beloved Little League coach, English teacher, husband and father of two girls. Yet as the investigation expands, horrifying new answers and questions begin to emerge.


I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is the story of Michelle McNamara’s harrowing, spine-tingling investigation of the 70s-era rapist and serial killer she dubbed the ‘Golden State Killer’. Part memoir, part true-crime, this is an unnerving account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. One of the most talked-about books of the year.


Sabrina by Nick Drnaso

Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina made literary history this year when it became the first graphic novel to be longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Opening with a young woman’s disappearance, it follows three characters who have been impacted by the tragedy and must deal with the wider society’s fascination with the story. This is an ominous and richly atmospheric work of fiction that feels incredibly timely.


Apple and Knife by Intan Paramaditha (translated by Stephen J Epstein)

A thrilling work of feminist horror fiction, Apple and Knife is the first book from Sydney-based Indonesian writer Intan Paramaditha to be published in English. These short fictions are set in the Indonesian everyday - in corporate boardrooms, in shanty towns, on dangdut stages - yet reveal a soupy otherworld stewing just beneath the surface.


Foe by Iain Reid

Junior and Hen are a married couple living a comfortable, solitary life on their farm. One day, a stranger arrives with surprising news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from their home. The stranger also promises that Hen won’t have a chance to miss her husband at all; arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Hen won’t be alone – not even for a moment. This is eerily entrancing page-turner is ideal for fans of Black Mirror.


Shiver by Junji Ito

Shiver features nine of Junji Ito’s best short stories, as selected by the author himself and presented with accompanying notes and commentary. Ito is a master of manga horror and these tales are surreal nightmares of the highest order, simmering with imminent apocalypses and inescapable doom.


The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

If you’ve watched and loved the Netflix adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s 1959 horror classic, we urge you to seek out the book. In Jackon’s original version, four seekers arrive at the notoriously unfriendly Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena, but it seems that the building is gathering its powers - and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.



Nick Drnaso

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