Ten books I read in 2019 (not the only ones I read, but a list just for fun):
In no particular order…
1. Buzz-The Nature and Necessity of Bees by Thor Hanson. I posted up about this at the time, but worth a re-mention as it’s such a well-written treasure trove of information. Does what it says on the tin.
2. The Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa. Read a few others from Peru’s most famous literary export, finally got round to this one. Biographical novel about Roger Casement, a controversial man ahead of his time in many respects.
3. Alarum by Wayne Holloway-Smith. Debut poetry collection I happened upon when browsing the Bloodaxe Publishing website. Infuriating in places, but overall pretty good.
4. Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman. I think Amazon was trolling both Bregman and lefty readers by offering this for free on Kindle but I wasn’t going to turn such an opportunity down. Food for thought and again the title does what it says on the tin.
5. The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth-I read it when it came out about five years ago and I read it again this year because it’s just so good.
6. How Football Began by Tony Collins. I asked for this one for Christmas and I’ve just finished reading it. Great social history of how soccer, both codes of rugby, Aussie rules, American football etc all evolved and codified out of one proto-game of football in the late 19th/early 20th century. Recommended.
7. The Forbidden Game: The Untold Story of French Rugby League by Mike Rylance. Taking a much more niche aspect of the above and telling a fascinating story of how RL in France was born before WW1 and then suppressed by the Vichy regime in WW2 just as it was attaining ascendancy. Really interesting.
8. Burning Down the Haus: Punk Rock, Revolution and the Fall of the Berlin Wall by Tim Mohr. Now, this is a book. Story of East German punk scene in the 80s. Book of the year for me.
9. Berlin Wonderland: Wild Years Revisited 1990-96. A collection of photography/oral history which functions as a great (if unconnected/unintentional) sequel to the above, as the punks and other subcultures try to carve out an independent space for themselves before the inevitable take over by ‘the man’ from the west.
10. What We Have Lost: The Dismantling of Great Britain by James Hamilton-Patterson. Not the reactionary book it sounds like, but rather a heartfelt polemic about why we have thrown the baby out with the bath water in the name of economic ‘modernisation’. A love-letter to Britain’s lost manufacturing industry, basically.
Currently reading Peaky Blinders: The Real Story by Carl Chinn (another Christmas gift and more social history-I can’t get enough!) and Maya Angelou’s second volume of autobiography Gather Together In My Name. Trying to get the reading in whilst still off for Christmas!
If you’re reading this, please do feel free to comment below about your own recent reads-always fascinating to see what others are delving into. Happy New Year!