Suddenly it dawned on me: it’s that time of the year again. Four years ago to the day I wrote my first blog post although I didn’t know it at the time. (I didn’t know what a blog was, either.) Four years and I’m still at it; four years and I’m still full of ideas. The difficulty, in fact, lies in finding the time and energy to turn those ideas into posts. At the moment, I’m in no danger of running out of topics.
In the past four years I came to read a lot of great books and I wrote a lot of posts that were great fun to write. Here comes my entirely self-pleasing highlights for each period of twelve months (excluding books that I was re-reading):
19 July 2015 – 19 July 2016
Best Book: El coronel no tiene quien le escriba (No One Writes to the Colonel) by Gabriel García Márquez
Runner Up: Moscow Stations by Venedikt Yerofeev
Two very short books about life not being funny at all – full of dark humour. Beg, borrow or steal, but read these two books before you die.
Favourite Post: When with Eagle Eyes He Star’d at the Pacific
A post that brings together Austrian author Stephan Zweig, the English poet John Keats and a great moment in history. I only wish my writing was up to the quality of the topic.
20 July 2016 – 19 July 2017
Best Book: The Bible in Spain by George Borrow
Runner Up: Anabasis (The Persian Expedition) by Xenophon
Two first hand accounts: two quests for salvation, two journeys full of adventure, landscape and human interaction. Borrow travelled a civil warn torn Spain peddling a forbidden edition of the Bible to the locals; Xenophon led an army of Greek mercenaries across hostile territory from the heart of Mesopotamia back to Greece. Both are unforgettable.
Favourite Post: Pride & Prejudice in a Dozen Tweets
I probably wrote better posts in this twelve month period; I definitely wrote more informative ones. But with this one, I was just having a bit of shameless fun.
20 July 2017-19 July 2018:
Best Book: The Samurai by Shusaku Endo
Runner Up: Vida de este capitán (The Life of This Captain) by Alonso de Contreras
Two books treating real events in the beginning of the 17th century. The first one is a novel about a Japanese embassy to Spain and to the Vatican in the 17th century; a wonderful travel story and an amazing culture clash. The second one is autobiography of Spanish desperado, who lived at the turn of the 16th-17th century. You couldn’t make the stories up if you tried.
Favourite Post: Implacabile (The Corvette that Never Was)
This period was quite rich in posts that I really enjoyed writing: The Master of Cold Mountain for example, or An Evening with Matsuo Basho are such examples. In the end, Implacabile won it because of the research that went into it and because – believe me – you won’t find a word about this topic in English anywhere else on the web. Unique. 🙂
20 July 2018-19 July 2019:
Best Book: The Rubaiyyat of Omar Khayyam
Runner Up: Don Quijote de la Mancha by Miguel Cervantes de Saavedra
I discovered Omar Khayyam, this 11th century Persian fatalist, a lover of wine, women, good books and gardens (probably in that order). And I rediscovered Don Quijote in the recent edition of the Spanish Royal Academy – which I can only recommend, if you can read Spanish.
Favourite Post: Burns vs Petőfi: Or Whose National Poet Was More S**t?
I didn’t have a particularly difficult time to choose this one: in the last twelve months unfortunately I had struggled to keep the blog going at all and I wrote much fewer posts than previously. It came down to a relatively simple choice, with The Dark Side of Life (In Nine Haikus) being a strong runner up. In the end Burns vs Petőfi won because of the outrageousness of the idea to rubbish two national poets. Boy, did I enjoy slagging them off (well, they deserve it). 🙂
To another year of blogging!
You might also like (or more highlights from previous years): 2015-2016: ⇒ Tolstoy, Mario Vargas Llosa, My Grandmother and Me (On War & Peace) ⇒ A Trial of Freedom ⇒ Fever Pitch ⇒ Exit 2016-2017: ⇒ The Bible in Spain ⇒ Ozymandias: Shelley and the Feet of Ramessess II ⇒ City of Fortune ⇒ Save the Trinidad: The Unwritten Biography of Cayetano Valdés ⇒ The Power and the Glory 2017-2018: ⇒ The Battle of Salamis (Retold in Poetry) I and II ⇒ The Beauty of Patterns (The Rabbit Problem) ⇒ In the Footsteps of the Swallows and Amazons: Climbing the Kanchenjunga ⇒ Face to Face with My Ancestors (The Scythians in the British Museum) ⇒ The Master of Cold Mountain 2018-2019: ⇒ The Dark Side of Life (In Nine Haikus) ⇒ Call No Man Happy ⇒ The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam ⇒ The True Stories of...