My Top Five Books of 2019

Because of the nature of my writing work, this website ends up being a whole lot about music. In fact, I’m every bit as obsessive about reading, too. It’s become an annual tradition to post my favourite books of the year, in part for others, in part because I have a bad memory, and dropping back into the old posts to remember what I really loved it quite a pleasant experience (here’s what I wrote in 2018, 2017, and 2016).

This year was a little bit special, of course, because back in April I also launched my debut book, about a relatively obscure international football tournament for unrecognised nations. It’s called ‘CONIFA: Football For The Forgotten‘. Its launch was definitely my favourite booky moment of the year, obviously, but I’m not the kind of egomaniac to include it below (please do check it out – you’ll have to scroll down on the linked post for order details).

I think in part because I was so book focused through the year, my read count is a little up on most years (I’ll have read 55, my own not included, by the end of the year), so this year’s post is a true ‘elite’. As usual, it’s quite an eclectic selection. Here’s what I really loved…

Beijing Coma by Ma Jian (view)

This is a novel based on the Tiananmen Square student uprising, written (originally) in Chinese by a Chinese emigrant. It’s given a real sense of being close to reality by being written by someone who was actually there. It’s based around two parallel stories about a core character: one set at the time of the uprising, and a second over the following years, as he exists in his mother’s house, poorly cared for, in a coma, but able to hear everything going on around him.

It’s a fairly full-on, heady read, absolutely packed with fascinating cultural references, and I found the ‘locked-in’ aspect of it to be quite affecting. A history lesson in novel form, essentially, with lots of alien (to us) politics and colourful relationships. Fascinating.

Top 10: Day Trips from Dublin

…..1. Howth
Perhaps the perfect place to blow away a Dublin-induced hangover, the pretty port of Howth and cliff-side walks around it are a short train ride from the city, and a great way to spend a Sunday. Only the steady-of-foot should attempt the stroll around the headland, which is unfenced and has a hefty drop. On a clear day the aesthetic rewards are stunning, especially the surprisingly turquoise seas. There are plenty of other attractions, too, including a castle, a monastery and a crumbling church….

….8. Glasnevin Cemetery
Few places groan with the weight of national symbolism the way that Glasnevin Cemetery does. Founded by nationalist leader Daniel O’Connell in 1832, it has since become the burial place of a huge number of politicians, artists and soldiers of national note. The rows of Celtic crosses are harrowing and memorable, and a 160ft round tower (built in memory of O’Connell himself) rises over it all….

As Published by BakPak Europe in Summer 2009. To view article in full, click here.