I don’t want to be cool, I don’t need to be right

This entry was posted by on Monday, 1 January, 2018 at

It’s getting harder to hear my heart these days,

harder to hear my heart

there’s so much culture in the way…

Those lyrics from Romantica ring deep and true for me, at this moment in time. Our culture is noisy, and most of the voices I’m bombarded with every day are distracting and confusing and do me no good. And yet, when I’m paying attention, there are also always voices that enlighten my mind and nourish my heart. When I seek those voices, I find them. There’s treasure hidden in the junkyard of our culture.

And so, as usual, I’m celebrating the end of another year by making lists, of the best new things I’ve found in the world of music, books and movies. As usual, these are new to me in the past year (not necessarily released in 2017). And as usual, I’d love to hear about the treaures you have found too.

First, the novels:
1. “The Brothers K” (David James Duncan)
2. “My Name is Lucy Barton” (Elizabeth Strout)
3. “Days Without End” (Sebastian Barry)
4. “Remembering Laughter” (Wallace Stegner)
5. “The Underground Railroad” (Colson Whitehead)

Second, the non-fiction books:
1. “Liturgy of the Ordinary” (Tish Harrison Warren)
2. “The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction” (Alan Jacobs)
3. “Dirty Glory” (Pete Greig)
4. “As Kingfishers Catch Fire” (Eugene Peterson)
5. “Life Essential” (George MacDonald)

Third, the movies:
1. Silence
2. Dunkirk
3. Arrival
4. Hell or High Water
5. La La Land

And finally, the music:
1. “Shadowlands” (Romantica)
2. “Gathering” (Josh Ritter)
3. “Treasure of the Broken Land” (Mark Heard tribute)
4. “Home” (Josh Garrels)
5. “The Burning Edge of Dawn” (Andrew Peterson)

One Response to “I don’t want to be cool, I don’t need to be right”

  1. Happy new year to you JM. Some interesting choices there as always.

    Firstly the films. I have watched a lot of films this year. Lots of good ones, a few great and a fair few turkeys. Easily the best films I watched this year were Graduation by Christian Mingui and A Monster Calls by Bayona. Graduation was a masterly look at contemporary life in Romania, a probing look at ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone’. Gripping and provocative, I loved it. A Monster Calls was a superb adaptation of the Patrick Ness novel. A compassionate, moving and wise look at the grief of a child, it disturbed and upset me in equal measure. Here is my top 10:

    1. Graduation
    2. A Monster Calls
    3. Life as a Courgette
    4. Moonlight
    5. The Meyerowitz Stories
    6. La La Land
    7. Blade Runner 2049
    8. Lion
    9. Get Out
    10. Sorceror (1977, reissue).

    Biggest disappointments? Manchester by the Sea and A Ghost Story. Both promised a lot, by directors I like and critical acclaim to match. Both left me cold and very underwhelmed. Full of their own self importance possibly too.

    Worthy mentions are Okja, Hampstead, Baby Driver and Cafe Society.

    I made a conscious effort to discover new music this year, rather than settling to what could be a fast approaching midlife acceptance that what I like is the only thing I will ever like. This was only moderately successful I’m afraid. Here is my top 5:

    1. A Deeper Understanding – The War on Drugs
    2. A Painting of a Panic Attack – Frightened Rabbit
    3. In the Kingdom of Dreams – Ian Felice
    4. In the Silence – Asgeir
    5. Poor Dave’s Almanack – Dave Rawlings

    There were good releases by Iron and Wine, Jason Isbell and The National as well as a truly diabolical effort by Arcade Fire.

    Finally, I managed for the most part to have a decent rattle at sticking to last year’s resolution of reading at least 15 minutes each day. Here are the reads that stood out:

    1. The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
    2. A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
    3. You Were Never Really Here – Jonathan Ames
    4. Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
    5. Nutshell – Ian McEwan

    Next on the list are Purity by Jonathan Franzen and That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx. Same resolution as last year…


Leave a Reply