all this darkness is a small and passing thing

This entry was posted by on Tuesday, 31 December, 2019 at

This post is dedicated to the three people who are waiting for it with eager anticipation. I’m now ready to announce my favourite cultural bits and pieces of 2019… 

As usual, these are new to me, not necessarily released or published this year. I’ve picked a top five for each category, which is roughly in order (trying not to obsess over that part as I could spend all week tinkering!). 

And as usual, I would love to hear about the books and movies and music that have made you smile, made you think, and made your life richer this year.

FICTION
“Plainsong” (Kent Haruf)
“Abide with Me” (Elizabeth Strout)
“The Shepherd’s Hut” (Tim Winton)
“Now We Shall Be Entirely Free” (Andrew Miller)
“The Noise of Time” (Julian Barnes)

NON-FICTION
“Adorning the Dark” (Andrew Peterson)
“Faithful Presence” (David Fitch)
“Hillbilly Elegy” (J.D. Vance)
“Life Without Lack” (Dallas Willard)
“Digital Minimalism” (Cal Newport)

MUSIC
“My Finest Work Yet” (Andrew Bird)
“I Am Easy To Find” (The National)
“Ghosteen” (Nick Cave)
“Fever Breaks” (Josh Ritter)
“Years to Burn” (Iron & Wine/Calexico)

MOVIES
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Green Book
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Beautiful Boy

(And just to stir the pot, I’ll add that I was completely underwhelmed by Joker, Roma and The Irishman!)

Over to you, friends of internet land…

One Response to “all this darkness is a small and passing thing”

  1. Happy new year JM.

    I had set a personal challenge to read 35 books this year (the idea coincided with my approaching 40th birthday and learning of the benefits of reading as an Alzheimer’s preventative). While I didn’t quite meet my goal, I wasn’t far off so a top 10 books of the year is easier than a top 5. So, first, my favourite reads:

    Home – Marilynne Robinson
    A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles
    Leonard and Hungry Paul – Ronan Hession
    Midwinter Break – Bernard McLaverty
    Best Boy -Eli Gottlieb
    Last Ones Left Alive – Sarah Davis-Goff
    The Firestarters – Jan Carson
    John Henry Days – Colson Whitehead
    The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers
    Alex – Pierre LaMaitre

    Secondly, the films. I managed to see quite a few good films, but with a change or two in family circumstances, there were many more I missed. Here are my top 5 films:

    If Beale Street Could Talk
    Dogman
    Shoplifters
    Support the Girls
    The Two Popes

    Unfortunately I ran out of time to catch Monsters and Men, Everybody Knows and Marriage Story. I enjoyed quite a few others including Stan and Ollie, Utoya, Sisters Brothers, Green Book and Fighting with my Family. Biggest Disappointments were Thunder Road (which despite the acclaim was a little annoying), Us (which I thought was a load of nonsense) and unsurprisingly, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (which has convinced me Tarantino’s 1st 3 films were made by either mistake or by someone else entirely).

    On the small screen, we laughed and cried our way through the entire run of Parenthood. Barely an episode went by without me sitting in tears. It contests the number one tv show of all time in my heart with The Sopranos and The West Wing. We were gripped by Netflix’s Unbelievable which managed to be gripping, moving and provocative. Rarely has a crime drama focussed so thoughtfully and sensitively on the victims of horrific crimes.

    Finally, my top 5 new album releases this year. In 2019, Wilco redeemed themselves, The National released their masterpiece, Bear’s Den upped their game again and Nick Cave released his big hearted, moving and gorgeous Ghosteen, my album of the year (all obviously in my humble opinion ?).

    1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
    2. The National – I am Easy to Find
    3. Deerhunter – Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?
    4. Wilco – Ode to Joy
    5. Bear’s Den – So That You Might Hear Me

    I throughly enjoyed new albums by Bruce Springsteen, Thom Yorke, The Felice Brothers (as always) and Elbow, as well as older albums by Tom Waits (Rain Dogs), The Decemberists (The Crane Wife), Aimee Mann (Mental Illness) and Future Islands (The Far Field).


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