2022 is now upon us. I'm not going to run down all the woes we've experienced in the past year or two. I'm still here, I'm healthy and employed, and I am still a little boy trapped in a middle-aged body. Still in love with scary things.

It's been a great year of reading for me. I read eighty-eight books. Still shy of my goal of a hundred, but not bad. I read some long books, and that keeps the number low. If I didn't have the inconvenience of a job and other distractions, my list would be a lot longer.

I'll go over the best I read in 2021 and list a few runner-ups.

In order in which I read them...

The Scorpion's Tale, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Their work needed an infusion and the Gideon Crewe books didn't quite cut it. Having Nora and Corrie star in new adventures is the real ticket. I've absolutely loved the first two in this series and I can't wait for the next one.

Sarah Langan's Good Neighbors was a triumphant return to publishing by the author. This novel is savagely satirical, but it is more than that. It's a parable for our times and a stern warning. But Langan offers hope in the form of the young. I hope she doesn't wait too long to bring us another book.

Paul Theroux's Under the Wave at Waimea is absolutely one of his best and most accessible novels. The story of an aging surfer parallels Theroux's own standing in the literary world. This novel is poignant, thoughtful, and at times hysterically funny.

The Last House on Needless Street isn't Catriona Ward's first novel, but it's the one that has put on her the literary map. Finally a book that deserves comparisons to Shirley Jackson. The story is a puzzle box of psychological depth. It's terrifying yet oddly touching. She is the real thing.

Stephen King continues to challenge himself and his readers. Billy Summers is, by my estimation, one of his very best novels. Horror nerds poo-poo'ed that it isn't a supernatural thriller. I love King's genre material, but with books as good as Billy Summers, who cares about the subject matter?

My favorite, my very favorite of the year, is Together We Will Go, which stands among the finest books I have ever read. This emotionally-charged story deals with a group of disparate people on a road trip to suicide. J. Michael Straczynski deals in hard subject matter with this one, but he manages to make the story life-affirming with resorting to cheap sentimentality. Read it and weep.

Richard Chizmar's Chasing the Boogeyman is a meta-hybrid-fusion conglomerate of true crime, serial killer thriller, and memoir. I've never read anything like it because there never has been anything like it. Where's the movie?

I've always been a huge Bentley Little fan, and he has outdone himself with Gloria. This book is the best goddamn thing he has ever published. It's surreal, scary, and utterly compelling. Philip K. Dick meets T.M. Wright meets Richard Matheson. All that, but purely Bentley Little. A masterpiece.

Runners up:

The Final Girl Support Group, Grady Hendrix
The Eater of Gods, Dan Franklin
Moon Lake, Joe R. Lansdale
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino

Re-reading continues to be an important part of my life. I've reached the age where I am going back to as many books as I am reading new ones. The best I read this year are...

City, Clifford D. Simak
It, Stephen King
Nightbloom, Herbert Lieberman
The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, Philip K. Dick
The Wanderers, Richard Price
The Doll Who Ate His Mother, Ramsey Campbell
The Ceremonies, T.E.D. Klein

I'm confident that 2022 wil be another year of fantastic reading. I'm most looking forward to...

Diablo Mesa, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Sundial, by Catriona Ward
The Sculptor, by Michael Aronovitz
Born For Trouble, by Joe R. Lansdale
Sleep Walk, by Dan Chaon
How To Build a Haunted House, by Grady Hendrix
Hidden Treasures, by Jason Rekulak
Liarmouth, by John Waters

I can hope for a new T.E.D. Klein or John Farris, or even a new Nameless Detective novel from Bill Pronzini, can't I? I don't think it will happen. I do expect a lot of surprises, a few disappointments, and a good long year of experiencing the joy of books.

Written by Mark Sieber

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