Here's a heartening fact: in 2015 we, the people, bought 571 million print books – 17 million more than 2014.
With that in mind, here are the 10 novels scheduled for release in 2016 that we are most excited about. Read, order and enjoy: it's all the rage, after all.
1 | Rush Oh! By Shirley Barrett
If the (underrated) film adaptation of Heart of the Sea – the origin tale of Moby Dick – renewed your thirst for nautical adventures last year, this hotly tipped debut about a whaling season in New South Wales in 1908 could be just the ticket, particularly if you like a bit of comedy with your mammal spearing action.
2 | The Blade Artist by Irvine Welsh
Jonathan Cape, April
Last year Welsh promised us a new book about an old friend: turns out, it is the one you're terrified of and can never quite say no to. Begbie, the antihero of Trainspotting and Porno, returns as a reformed artist living peacefully in California – until, that is, a visit from Edinburgh threatens his new life. Like last year's A Decent Ride, this has the makings of 'peak Welsh': funny, filthy, literary smack.
3 | The Bricks That Built The House by Kate Tempest
Mercury-nominated musician, award-winning poet, successful playwright and now, finally, a novelist. The long form debut of one of the most gifted British writers of her generation has been much anticipated; expect this tale of three Londoners and a suitcase full of money to be full of Tempest's signature empathy, wit and insight.
4 | Shylock Is My Name by Howard Jacobson
In just about anyone else's hands, a modern retelling of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice featuring footballers and heiresses in Manchester would sound like an act of literary sacrilege. This, though, is Booker-winner and master of comic writing Howard Jacobson, so expect him to pull of the unlikely feat with aplomb.
5 | Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
It's a war novel but not as you know it. Cleave, a Guardian journalist and celebrated novelist (Incendiary, The Other Hand), has reportedly written his best book to date with this tale of a young teacher determined to stay in Blitz-time London.
6 | Zero K by Don DeLillo
Tipped the be the American titan's best novel in years, Zero K is about a billionaire investing in the morally complex endeavors of euthanasia and cryogenics. Now 79, it will be fascinating to see one of the most accomplished novelists alive once again tackle some of the big themes not just of today, but tomorrow.
7 | The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes
Jonathan Cape, January
There hasn't been a new novel from Barnes since 2011's short and strangely affecting meditation on friendship The Sense of an Ending. He's back this year with a reimagining of the life of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich and his various troubles with the Soviet government. Desperately highbrow, of course, but with Barnes it's always worth making the investment.
8 | Jonathan Unleashed by Meg Rosoff
Many a wise book has been written for children: that is certainly true in the case of Rosoff's most successful novel, 2004's How I Live Now. Jonathan Unleashed is her first story for adults and follows the confused lives of a set of dog walkers in New York. It promises to be just as smart and funny.
9 | The Power by Naomi Alderman
A protégé of Margaret Atwood, Alderman's new novel treads similar ground as her mentor – gender-charged speculative fiction – as she imagines a world in which women are physically stronger than men. Not much else about the plot is known, but given the intriguing premise and success of her previous novels, this is one to look out for.
10 | Dog Rum Moon by Callan Wink
Trade Paperback, March
The short story collection we're most excited about in 2016 comes from Callan Wink, the 31-year-old former fly-fishing guide and current literary darling of the New Yorker and Granta, whose ability to evoke the American landscape (most of his stories are set in and around Yellowstone Park) while telling hard-hitting modern stories mark him out as a huge and exciting talent.