Now that I've finished reading every book published in 2014, it's time to look at the year ahead. The first half of 2015 sees new work from Nobel laureates and rock legends, critical darlings and heavily hyped first-timers. There are books about sasquatches and skateboarding and everything in between. There are, as always, too many good books. What follows are 50 titles, evenly split between Canada and the rest of the world, that I'm looking forward to reading during the next six months.
If I Fall, If I Die, by Michael Christie. This debut novel, from the skateboarder-turned-author of the splendid short story collection The Beggar's Garden, follows a boy with an agoraphobic mother as he ventures "Outside" for the first time in his life.
The Deep, by Nick Cutter. The Troop, Cutter's first novel (okay, the first novel Giller Prize finalist Craig Davidson published under his not-very-secret pseudonym) was one of the most gleefully sadistic books of 2014. In his latest, a team of scientists descend into the Marianas Trench, which sounds like a terrible idea to me.
The First Bad Man, by Miranda July. Blurbed by the likes of Lena Dunham and Dave Eggers – not that I, um, pay attention to such things – July's debut novel concerns an eccentric woman whose life is upended by her bosses' daughter.
Her, by Harriet Lane. The recipient of stellar reviews when published in the UK last summer, Lane's second novel looks to be a creepy study of female friendship.
The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac, by Sharma Shields. This debut novel chronicles the life of a man obsessed by a childhood encounter with the mythical creature, which may be related to the disappearance of his mother. Just shut up – you had me at "sasquatch."
Home, by Carson Ellis. A charming picture book about what home means to different people around the world.
Girl In A Band, by Kim Gordon. The co-founder of seminal noise-rock band Sonic Youth reflects on her California childhood, New York's art and punk scenes, and her life in music. It's being compared to Patti Smith's Just Kids, of course.
We Are Pirates, by Daniel Handler. Lemony Snicket's first novel for adults since Adverbs was published in 2006 features a girl pirate, among other things.
Get in Trouble, by Kelly Link. A new collection from a writer whose peculiar brand of stories combine fantasy, sci-fi, horror and literary elements to great effect.
The Hunger of the Wolf, by Stephen Marche. In what's being billed as Marche's "breakout" novel, the body of the heir to the fortune of an American business dynasty (and a family with terrible secrets, naturally) is found in the wilds of northern Canada.
Love and Lies, by Clancy Martin. How to Sell, Martin's first novel, was a bleak, messy, and brilliant examination of the jewellery business. The subtitle of his new book is "an essay on truthfulness, deceit, and the growth and care of erotic love." So it's perfect for Valentine's Day.
The Sculptor, by Scott McCloud. One of the most respected figures in modern comics delivers a new graphic novel about an artist nearing the end of his life. The Sculptor is being described as McCloud's magnum opus.
Letter to a Future Lover, by Ander Monson. A treatise on marginalia and other artifacts left behind in physical books.
Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed, edited by Meghan Daum. Sixteen writers, ranging from Lionel Shriver to Geoff Dyer, write about their decision not to have children.
Under the Visible Life, by Kim Echlin. In her first novel since earning a Giller Prize nomination for The Disappeared, Echlin explores the lives of two women who bond over jazz.
Visitants, by Dave Eggers. He suffered his first (at least in my mind) misfire in 2014 with Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?, which was perhaps a result of being a bit too prolific in recent years. Let's see if he can bounce back with this, his first collection of travel writing.
Our Endless Numbered Days, by Claire Fuller. No, these aren't the lyrics of the Iron & Wine record. Rather, this debut novel concerns a girl who disappears into the forest with her survivalist father only to reappear, almost a decade later, alone.
The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro. Hard to believe it's been a decade since Never Let Me Go, isn't it? He could publish his grocery list and I'd still read it. His new novel concerns a couple, Beatrice and Axl, who are searching for their son. The publisher says it is a book "about lost memories, love, revenge, and war."
Dancing in the Dark, by Karl Ove Knausgaard. The fourth volume in Knausgaard's My Struggle cycle centres on his time as a young school teacher in northern Norway.
Sidewalk Flowers, by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith. This beautiful, wordless picture book tracks a young girl's journey through the city.
H is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald. After the death of her father, a woman pursues her childhood dream of becoming a falconer. Those I've spoken to who've read it can't praise it highly enough.
All-Day Breakfast, by Adam Lewis Schroeder. Although he's produced three acclaimed novels, Schroeder has never enjoyed a commercial hit. Considering the public's infatuation with all things undead, his latest novel, about a man who might be a zombie, might be his breakout.
The Right to be Cold, by Sheila Watt-Cloutier. Sure to be one of the spring's most important books, this is a spirited call-to-arms on behalf of not just northern communities, which are among the most threatened by climate change, but of the world.
Fifteen Dogs, by André Alexis. This might be the best set-up of the spring: In order to settle a drunken bet regarding human happiness, Hermes and Apollo grant a pack of dogs consciousness in order to see if any of them will die happy.
The Death of Small Creatures, by Trisha Cull. This promises to be a poetic and raw memoir about Cull's battle with bulimia, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse.
At The Water's Edge, by Sara Gruen. The author of Water for Elephants returns with a novel about three friends searching for the Loch Ness Monster – which we all know is real – in Second World War-era Scotland.
God Help the Child, by Toni Morrison. You don't have to say much when a Nobel Prize winner publishes a new novel.
Daydreams of Angels, by Heather O'Neill. The Montreal writer follows last year's Giller Prize-nominated novel The Girl Who Was Saturday Night with her first short story collection.
So You've Been Publicly Shamed, by Jon Ronson. The gonzo journalist looks at shame around the world.
Confidence, by Russell Smith. The Globe and Mail columnist, and one of our best chroniclers of the modern condition, delivers his first short story collection since 1999's classic Young Men.
The Road In Is Not The Same Road Out, by Karen Solie. Her first collection since winning the Griffin Poetry Prize is being published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the States which, yes, is a big deal.
SuperMutant Magic Academy, by Jillian Tamaki. Perhaps best-known for the stellar work she's produced with her cousin, Mariko, this new book should prove Jillian is a force on her own, too.
Theatre of the Unimpressed, by Jordan Tannahill. The Canadian theatre wunderkind "aims to turn theatre from an obligation to a destination."
Boring Girls, by Sara Taylor. One of the spring's most intriguing debut novels, about a pair of female metalheads, begins thusly: "It seems like everyone I talk to wants to know two things. One is whether I'm a serial killer or a mass murderer."
Beyond the Pale, by Emily Urquhart. A folklorist and journalist who happens to be Jane Urquhart's daughter, Emily Urquhart has produced a cultural history of albinism that looks absolutely riveting. (Oh, and Jane's novel The Night Stages, which traces the lives of an Englishwoman stranded in Gander, Nfld., her missing younger brother, and the Canadian artist Kenneth Lochhead, is out this month, too!)
Daddy Lenin and Other Stories, by Guy Vanderhaege. One of Canada's most esteemed writers publishes his first short story collection in more than 20 years.
A God in Ruins, by Kate Atkinson. A sequel to last year's smash Life After Life, which everyone in the world has read, except me.
Where Did You Sleep Last Night?, by Lynn Crosbie. A teenage girl wakes in the hospital to find the spirit of Kurt Cobain has possessed the body of the boy in the bed next to her.
The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May, by Mark Z. Danielewski. Among the most interesting and ambitious writers – strike that, artists – working today, this is the first of 27 volumes. Yes, 27. Two seven. Good luck with that, Mark.
Close to Hugh, by Marina Endicott. Set over the course of a week in September, Endicott's latest concerns the owner of an art gallery and the friends and family in his orbit.
Lesser Beasts, by Mark Essig. A history of the noble pig. Oink!
The Making of Zombie Wars, by Aleksander Hemon. An aspiring screenwriter's life begins to fall apart in Hemon's first novel since 2008.
Knucklehead, by Matt Lennox. A small-town bouncer investigates his cousin's disappearance in Lennox's follow-up to his tough-as-nails debut The Carpenter.
It's A Long Story, by Willie Nelson. I'm not one for celebrity memoirs, but Nelson – iconoclast and outlaw – has lived one of the most interesting lives imaginable.
The Dorito Effect, by Mark Schatzker. The Toronto journalist studies links between flavour and nutrition in his first book since Steak: One Man's Search for the World's Tastiest Piece of Beef.
In The Unlikely Event, by Judy Blume. The YA legend delivers her first novel for adults in 15 years.
Muse, by Jonathan Galassi. The poet and publisher's first novel is a love letter to his industry.
Arms, by A.J. Somerset. The novelist and outdoorsman explores the history of gun culture in North America and how "the idea of the gun has become one many have believed worth dying for."
Stalin's Daughter, by Rosemary Sullivan. The professor, poet and biographer investigates how Stalin's only daughter wound up in a small Wisconsin town.
The Fellowship, by Philip and Carol Zaleski. The husband-and-wife team chronicle the writers' group The Inklings, whose members featured J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.