The most memorable book I’ve read all year was Engleby, by Sebastian Faulks (Vintage, £7.99). I’ve been a fan since his heart-stopping First World War love story Birdsong, but all his subsequent books seemed to fall short. This one continues his preoccupation with madness, and the eponymous narrator is so unreliable that we feel as bewildered as his acquaintances seem to be (he has no friends). Although I had some inkling of the clever ending, it still took me by surprise.

Secret Scriptures, by Sebastian Barry (Faber, £16.99) also dealt with mental illness in a memorable way, and contains one of the creepiest characters in modern fiction, an Irish Roman Catholic priest called Father Gaunt, whose malevolent presence dominates the book.

A murderous monster also features in The Clothes on Their Backs (Virago, £11.99) but the character of Sandor Kovacs is far from one-dimensional, as seen by his niece Vivien. On one level this is a wonderful story of a young woman coming of age, and her subsequent emotional life, but it also has plenty to say about the history and politics of the 20th century, and the way we live.