Saturday, May 16, 2020

Roger & Gallet

At the 'socially-distanced' Chapel service yesterday (attended by 8 resident staff), Mr Swift 
(compère of Voices of Poetry' introduced and then read his own poem 'Roger & Gallet'.

Roger & Gallet

Our sense of smell trumps all the others, they say,
For transporting us back through time,
To places (or people) that we sniffed unconsciously
Lifetimes ago.
Deep heat and the rugby changing rooms
Linseed oil on a cricket bat and our uncle’s antique workshop...
Brown bread baking.

I’d like to believe both you and I were fairly inoffensive
To nostrils passing near us.
We can’t take too much credit though
For something in the genes.
And we had some foreign helpers too,
Some continental styling down the years -
Acqua di Parma, Heno de Pravia, Hermes et al.
I even used Brut in the very late ‘80s
But you had better taste, even way back then.
        _________

One August day in 2016 we met by chance
On the Glasthule High Street!
I had emerged from The 64
With the glow of 40 Foot and coffee,
You were there to collect a prescription -
So we went to see the apothecary.
Pharmacy fragrances mingled in Glennon’s
As a cocktail of reassurance.

Soon you were adding a bottle
Of Roger & Gallet cologne
Onto your list of purchases,
And pressing it into my hand
Saying, ‘This is your favourite one, isn’t it?’

That bottle’s long finished but I have returned
To Glennon’s chemist since,
I’ve made myself known as your brother to Martha,
And replenished that favourite scent.

Now each morning several citrus sprays of French cologne
Call forth the memory of your welcoming self -
By a window, offering tea.
And the house smells grand,
With a still warm loaf cooling in the foreground.

June 5th, 2019

Friday, April 24, 2020

William Wordsworth revision


Here’s a Quizlet set for those preparing Wordsworth for the Leaving Certificate. Even if you’re not learning these quotations, they should prompt thoughts about key ideas in the poems. The reverse ‘answer’ side includes brief comments on significance. The main thing: use the quotations for thinking purposes.

(Technical instructions: at the top right of the Quizlet, click the icon for Options, and make sure you choose Answer with Definition. Click Flashcard from Choose a Study Mode at the bottom right, and if necessary the arrows-icon just above it to start on the question side of the card.)

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Reading

Our Librarian, Ms Kent-Sutton, has advice for all pupils and parents about reading now. Many pupils have a great opportunity to deepen and extend their reading both for academic reasons and pleasure.

Note that e-books are available on several platforms (including BorrowBox - see below), and Amazon's Kindle app can be downloaded for free on all devices (you do not need a physical Kindle). Many classic books are free.

First of all, visit Libraries Ireland who have relaxed their joining policies for the duration of the shutdown. Anyone can join and get immediate free access to their online services with their virtual library card: you need to download some free apps. The Borrowbox app will allow access to audio and ebooks. RB Digital is superb for comics books and graphic novels; the quality of the illustrations is not lost. They also do audio books. And finally in PressReader there is unlimited access to daily newspapers by country.

The Carnegie Medal is always excellent at highlighting the best of YA fiction for the year, and the 2020 shortlist is here. Each title on the list gives an age rating so pupils can access their appropriate level.

The Bookseller also has a Young Adult Book Prize shortlist.

If pupils/parents are looking for a challenge they could try the 16 Before 16 Reading Challenge. Pupils attempt to read 16 "classics" before they turn 16. A sample list is below, which is definitely not exhaustive but a rough guide.
  • I Know why the Caged Bird Sings- Maya Angelou
  • Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte
  • Misery- Stephen King
  • To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee
  • The Catcher in the Rye- J. D. Salinger
  • The Outsiders- S. E. Hinton
  • Frankenstein- Mary Shelley
  • 1984- George Orwell
  • The Crucible- Arthur Miller
  • Great Expectations-Charles Dickens
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland- C.S. Lewis
  • Brave New World- Aldous Huxley
  • Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Never Let Me Go- Kazou Ishiguro
  • Atonement-Ian McEwan
  • All Quiet on the Western Front-Erich Maria Remarque
  • Cider with Rosie- Laurie Lee
  • Schindler's Ark- Thomas Keneally
  • I Capture the Castle- Dodie Smith

Next, a list of some time-tested series:-
  • The Mortal Instruments- Cassandra Clare
  • Chaos Walking- Patrick Ness
  • Noughts and Crosses- Malorie Blackman
  • Throne of Glass-Sarah J Maas
  • Gone- Michael Grant
  • The Raven Cycle- Maggie Stiefvater
  • To All the Boys I've Loved Before- Jenny Han
  • His Dark Materials- Philip Pullman
  • Uglies- Scott Westerfield
  • Abhorsen-Garth Nix
  • Lorien Legacies- James Frey
  • Shatter Me- Tahereh Mafi
  • Cirque Du Freak-Darren Shan
  • Artemis Fowl- Eoin Colfer
  • Young Bond-Charlie Higson
Some notable new releases in the next month, with potential for these to be big summer reads...
  • The Kingdom of the Back-Marie Lu
  • The Enigma Game- Elizabeth Wein
  • Clap When you Land- Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Hunger Games prequel) - Suzanne Collins
And lastly, the following books have been adapted to films (some Netflix) and due for release before the end of the year:-
  • Dune- Frank Herbert
  • The Secret Garden- Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Artemis Fowl- Eoin Colfer
  • There's Someone Inside Your House- Stephanie Perkins (Netflix)
  • Death on The Nile- Agatha Christie
  • The Stand- Stephen King
  • Rebecca- Daphne Du Maurier (Netflix)
Time have a list of the best 100 Young Adult Books of All Time if anyone wants to attempt to read all 100!
Goodreads is pretty reliable for suggestions by genre and for suggesting titles/series.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

'Hamlet' quotation practice grids

Here are 15 exercises on quotations in Hamlet. They are designed for pair-work 10-minute sessions in class, but work perfectly well for individuals. You need to know the play well, so these are for revision at a late stage. 

The purpose is to make your mind work hard: retrieving factual details, certainly, about the sequence of the play, individual quotations and so on, but more importantly know making you think and create connections. You don’t need to write on the original sheet itself: just take a piece of paper and jot down your responses. 

Take 10-15 minutes, and when finished find the quotation in context and then fill in any gaps.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Leaving Certificate English resources


During these uncertain and anxious times for pupils, here is a summary of some resources on our site (and elsewhere) for Leaving Certificate English candidates that may be helpful when working at home. For general sharing (our own pupils have access to much of this on Firefly). Regular updates coming.

Also, English teachers: some recommendations here, as well as general teaching recommendations here, Shakespeare here.

Although Evelyn O'Connor has shuttered her site Leaving Cert English, you can still avail of lots of helpful resources and advice.


Hamlet:


Poetry:


Fiction:

  • We're doing The Great Gatsby in the comparative: here are 15 annotated video analyses of key moments in the novel.
  • An index to the whole novel.
  • And then follow up with these questions to provoke thoughts about the moments.

Language:
  • Of course the best thing you can do is read. As widely as possible. A great site for pointing you towards excellent reading is Five Books - recommendations from some of the most expert people around. If you find it difficult to get books right now, there's always Kindle delivery.
  • We have 77 Articles of the Week for keeping your mind going (especially for the Comprehension sections of the exam).
  • Everything starts with vocabulary: check out ‘6 useful vocabulary sites’ from a top expert in this area, Alex Quigley. Spend 10 minutes every few days on Describing Words, for instance.

Revision strategies:
  • Since you're unlikely to be covering anything new at the moment, make sure you use your time efficiently and effectively in revising. Below are some excellent proven strategies -
  • The Learning Scientists have excellent advice: check out their videos here. Don't waste your time re-reading notes and using the highlighter like a paintbrush. Instead, test yourself by retrieving material (see below), space your learning out and so on.
  • And here's a fine guide on those strategies from Carl Hendrick of Wellington - 'How should students revise? A brief guide.'
  • Flashcards are always good, and of course they can simply be on paper. Quizlet is an excellent tech-version, and here are ours on Hamlet, for instance. The main thing is that answers should prompt thought about the play more generally. You could always compose flashcards that you share electronically with your peers.


Monday, February 10, 2020

Articles of the Week


This is an ongoing listing of links to the Articles of the Week used with our Leaving Certificate pupils, from September 2013 onwards.

The idea came from the American teacher and writer Kelly Gallagher, and it fits very well into the Leaving course, getting pupils used to reading interesting articles and thus helping them in both the comprehension and composition sections of their Paper 1, as well as expanding their knowledge base and vocabulary and providing interesting topics for discussion.

Click here for Gallagher's current articles, and read more about the theory behind the scheme in his excellent book Readicide: how schools are killing reading and what you can do about it. Pupils have to mark up the articles with annotations before class discussion.
  1. February 2020: 'Are First-Borns Really Natural Leaders?' by Clara Sabolova, The Conversation, February 7th [parenting, upbringing, nurture].
  2. January 2020: 'What moral authority does the US have to kill Suleimani?' by Breda O'Brien, The Irish Times, January 11th 2020 [morality, politics, conflict}.
  3. October 2019: 'A psychotherapist explains why some adults are reacting badly to young climate strikers' by Caroline Hickman, The Conversation, October 11th 2019 [climate change, teenagers].
  4. September 2019: 'Curiosity: we're studying the brain to help you harness it' by by Ashvanti Valji and Matthias Gruber, The Conversation, September 13th 2019 [neuroscience, learning].
  5. September 2019: 'A California high school found students' cellphones too distracting, so they're locking the devices up' by Safia Samee Ali, NBC News, August 21st 2019 [education, learning, teenagers, technology].
  6. May 2019: 'How Exercise Affects Our Memory' by Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, May 1st 2019 [exercise, physiology, neuroscience].
  7. January 2019: 'Aviation is the red meat in the greenhouse gas sandwich' by John Gibbons, the Irish Times, January 29th 2019 [environment, aviation].
  8. January 2019: 'Filling the Silence with Digital Noise' by the Nielsen Norman Group, November 18th 2018 [technology, learning].
  9. November 2018: "Window for saving Earth from ecological annihilation closing" by John Gibbons, the Irish Times, October 16th 2018 [ecology, environment].
  10. October 2018: "'Fortnite' teaches the wrong lessons" by Nicholas Tampio, The Conversation, October 12th 2018 [gaming, adolescence, technology]/
  11. October 2018: "Why true horror movies are about more than things going bump in the night" by Aislinn Clarke, The Conversation [film, horror, comedy], October 3rd 2018.
  12. October 2018:  'Is Serena Williams right? A linguist on the extra challenges women face in moments of anger' by Kieran File, The Conversation, September 11th 2018 [women, gender, sport].
  13. September 2018: 'Why you should read this article slowly' by Joe Moran, The Guardian, September 14th 2018 [reading, internet].
  14. September 2018: 'The ideal school would put children's development before league tables' by Sue Roffey, The Conversation, September 17th 2018.
  15. September 2018: 'Another Angle: For the love of God, put down the phones' by Adrian Weckler, Irish Independent, August 20th 2018 [technology, phone].
  16. May 2018: 'Neuroscience is unlocking mysteries of the teenage brain' by Lucy Foulkes, The Conversation, April 23rd 2018 [adolescence, neuroscience].
  17. March 2018: 'The Tyranny of Convenience' by Tim Yu, New York Times, February 16th 2018 [modern life, technology].
  18. February 2018: "The death of reading is threatening the soul" by Philip Yancey, Washington Post, July 21st 2017 [reading, books, internet].
  19. January 2018: 'Why more men are wearing makeup than ever before' by Glen Jankowski, The Conversation, January 15th 2018 [make-up, masculinity].
  20. January 2018: 'Why 2017 was the best year in human history' by Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, January 6, 2018 [history, progress, health].
  21. November 2017: 'Boys must behave if women are to be safe' by Fintan O'Toole, The Irish Times, October 31, 2017.
  22. October 2017: 'A giant insect ecosystem is collapsing due to humans' by Michael McCarthy, The Guardian, October 21, 2017.
  23. October 2017: 'We can't stop mass murder' by Shikha Dalmia, The Week, October 6, 2017.
  24. October 2017: 'What every teacher should know about ... memory' by Bradley Busch, The Guardian, October 6, 2017 [learning, memory, teaching].
  25. October 2017: 'Think the world is in a mess: here are 4 things you can do about it' by Alexandre Christoyannapoulos. The Conversation, November 16, 2016 [activism, citizenship, economics].
  26. September 2017: 'The power of silence in the smartphone age' by Erling Kagge, The Guardian, September 23rd 2017 [technology].
  27. September 2017: '5 reasons why people share fake photos during disasters' by A.J. Willingham, CNN.com, September 8th 2017 [journalism, psychology, social media].
  28. September 2017: 'Can you identify the psychopaths in your life?' by Rob Hastings, iNews, August 29th 2017 [psychology].
  29. February 2017: 'Our roads are choked. We're on the verge of carmageddon' by George Monbiot, The Guardian, September 20th 2016 [environment, transport].
  30. January 2017: 'Girls believe brilliance is a male trait' by Nicola Davis, The Guardian, January 27th 2017.
  31. January 2017: 'What do teenagers want? Potted plant parents' by Lisa Damour, New York Times, December 14th 2016 [adolescence, parenting].
  32. November 2016: 'Trump makes it easy to vote for Her' by Carl Hiaasen, Miami Herald, November 6th 2016 [politics, America].
  33. October 2016: 'How being alone may be the key to rest' by Claudia Hammond, BBC, September 27th 2016 [rest, reading, introversion].
  34. September 2016: 'Why Parents are Getting Angrier' by Nicola Skinner, The Guardian, September 3rd 2016 [parenting, psychology, childhood].
  35. September 2016: 'Burkini beach ban: must French Muslim women become invisible?' by Delphine Strauss, The Irish Times, August 22nd 2016 [culture, Islam, France].
  36. May 2016: 'How can Lidl sell jeans for £5.99?' by Gethin Chamberlain, The Guardian, March 13th 2016 [economics, retailing, manufacture].
  37. April 2016: 'Teaching men how to be emotionally honest' by Anrew Reiner, New York Times, April 4th 2016 [gender, adolescence, masculinity].
  38. February 2016: 'Then and now: how things have changed for teenage girls since the 1950s' by Clare Furniss, The Guardian, January 29th 2016 [teenagers, gender, sexism].
  39. January 2016: 'Teenagers risk being defined for life by their social media posts' by Karlin Lilllington, Irish Times, January 14th 2016 [social media, teenagers, identity].
  40. January 2016: 'Welcome to the Anthropocene, a new geological era for the world', The Week, January 8th 2016 [geology, climate change, environment].
  41. November 2015: 'Birth Order Determines ... Almost Nothing' by Jeanne Safer, psychologytoday.com [psychology, parenting, childhood].
  42. November 2015: 'How psychopaths can save your life' by Kevin Dutton, The Observer [psychology].
  43. November 2015: '10 benefits of reading: why you should read every day' by Lana Winter-Hebert, Lifehack.org [reading, entertainment, education].
  44. October 2015: 'How much can you really learn while you're asleep?' by Jordan Gaines Lewis, The Guardian, October 6th 2015 [neuroscience, learning, adolescence].
  45. September 2015: 'Fifth of secondary school pupils wake almost every night to use social media' by Sally Weale, The Guardian, September 15th 2015 [social media, learning, teenagers].

Sunday, February 09, 2020

The Power of Reading Aloud

 Reading aloud is central to English teachers. And, of course, to parents. Read a review of Meghan Cox Gurdon's new book The Enchanted Hour: the miraculous power of reading aloud in the age of distraction here.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Reader, Come Home


One of the most important books in recent years about reading is Maryanne Wolf's Reader, Come Home: the reading brain in a digital world (2018). A subtle, informed and passionate defence of 'deep reading', as opposed to the shallow flitting that has become steadily more common, it is an essential book for all English teachers, parents and, simply, the general public.

Here is a detailed analysis of it. Check out further reading at the bottom of that page.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

English Meet, 23.4.2020


UPDATE 9.2.20: book tickets here
 
We're planning a new venture for Thursday 23rd April 2020 (Shakespeare's birthday): an evening dedicated to sharing ideas about teaching Leaving Certificate English.

The venue
Whispering House at our school, www.stcolumbas.ie (which was the venue on October 5th for the first-ever Irish researchED) in South Dublin. 7.00pm to 9.00pm. It will be free to attend, but will be ticketed (ticketing via EventBrite later down the line).  See the venue here.

The idea:
Teachers share ideas and experiences on teaching the course. Presentations can be as short as ten minutes, or run longer, depending on need and content. There will be plenty of time for discussion, too.

Some ideas for presenters:
Focus on a character in a text | reading & resource recommendations | modelling and scaffolding ideas | how to start an essay | approach to the Unseen | teaching the comparative | building a knowledge base | improving vocabulary | questioning techniques | effective use of tech | classroom techniques.

Are you interested? Email Julian at sccenglish@stcolumbas.ie

Monday, December 16, 2019

Books of 2019



And we're off: our (amazingly) 10th annual popular post of books of the year as they feature in the press (excluding pay-walled material, such as the London Times and Sunday Times, Financial Times, and Telegraph) and on some blogs. This is a selective list of what we judge the highest-quality lists: if you want almost everything that moves, check out Largehearted Boy.

The list will be updated pretty well daily up to Christmas.


Previous lists are here: 2010201120122013201420152016, 2017 and 2018.
  • The Irish Times selection includes choices by Sinéad Gleeson, author of one of our own books of the year, Constellations (the interesting Annie Ernaux's Happening, and the spectacular Underland by Robert Macfarlane), Joseph O'Connor, author of another of our choices, Shadowplay (including Sarah Davis-Goff's Last Ones Left Alive) and Diarmaid Ferriter (Shadowplay itself, as well as the final volume of Charles Moore's excellent biography of Margaret Thatcher, and the great William Trevor's Last Stories).
  • The outstanding Five Books site has lots of recommendations (gathered here) by superbly-qualified writers, such as Nigel Warburton's Best Philosophy Books of 2019, Best Non-Fiction Books by the editor of the TLS, Stig Abell, and Best Poetry to Read in 2019 by Jamie McKendrick (though we're wondering where Fiona Benson is).
  • The Guardian has a lot of selections, starting with their own critics, with categories like Fiction, Crime & Thrillers, SF & Fantasy, Graphic, Poetry, Children, and more, as well as well-known writers, starting with Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo (including The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins) and further down top thriller-writer Lee Child noting the departure of the great Toni Morrison by choosing her The Source of Self-Regard. Here are best children's books for all ages ('titles about mental health and emotions are everywhere', which is sad, but Chris Riddell's Poems to Fall in Love with is 'a stupendously well-chosen, feelgood anthology in which even feel-bad poems feel good.' On the same site have a look at the Observer's choice of graphic novels
  • Still with The Guardian, one of the most enjoyable features every year is their readers' choice (free of log-rolling). Magrat123 recommends Deborah Moggach's novel The Carer: 'it should generate discussion about parents and children, relations between men and women, social expectations and obligations, keeping secrets and telling the truth.'
  • The Times Literary Supplement podcast on Books of the Year hosted by Stig Abell is here, discussing this list (as mentioned, not so 'international' as in the past, when foreign languages were everywhere, and the more common titles elsewhere aren't prominent here). Ones to look forward to: Bernard O'Donoghue's Poetry: a very short introduction, and Richard Davenport-Hines: "Richard Bassett’s memoir Last Days in Old Europe (Allen Lane) gives lessons in how to cope with political vandalism, social estrangement and the entrapping tombs of our time."
  • In the New Yorker, Katy Waldman's Best Books of 2019 includes Ocean Vuong's On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous (good title?). Their Non-Fiction selection includes David Wallace-Wells's The Uninhabitable Earth, called by some the scariest and most important work this year.
  • In The Gloss, Sophie Grenham recommends Ten of the Best Irish Novels to Give this Christmas: it's been a fine year, but let's pick out a less-noticed book, Doreen Finn's novel Night Swimming: 'If ever there was a novel that encapsulates a season, it’s this one. A perfect snapshot of childhood during the summer of 1976 in Dublin, you can actually feel the sun splitting the stones.'
  • The New York Times's famous feature, 100 Notable Books in 2019 includes Lucy Ellmann's much-noticed mammoth Ducks, Newburyport, and the amazing Edna O'Brien's latest novel, Girl ('immensely painful to read'). Also, 26 best art books.
  • The New York Times podcast discusses 10 books of the year (and nine additional ones), including Irishman Kevin Barry's Night Boat to Tangier ('a dark, witty take on Waiting for Godot').
  • The New York Public Library has, perhaps not surprisingly, a great list, in several categories: teen fiction includes Bill Konigsberg's The Music of What Happens, a well-received YA novel about two teenage boys' love.
  • Esquire's Best Books of 2019 (so far) includes a novel on many lists, Colson Whitehead's The Nickel Boys (The Underground Railroad appeared on our own list a while ago) and Arias, a new collection by that wonderful poet, Sharon Olds.
  • John Wilson's annual Year of Reading is thoughtful, including the Selected Letters of the great novelist Ralph Ellison. 
  • Quill and Quire from Canada has its Editors' Picks, include Sonnet L'Abbé's Sonnet's Shakespeare, in which she 'overwrites each of Shakespeare’s sonnets, submerging the originals in meditations on Indigenous justice, sexual assault, climate change, David Bowie, and Prince', which is pretty ambitious.
  • The Spectator's selections are always worth checking out, and this year come in two tranches. In Part 1 Sara Wheeler recommends Alice Oswald's Nobody which is 'perfect for a bedtime read' (seems odd for that particular poet) while in Part 2 Douglas Murray goes back to the reissue of R.C. Sherriff's excellent The Hopkins Manuscript (nothing to do with the poet)
  • The American Spectator selection includes Stephen Bayley, who goes for Ian Sansom's September 1, 1939: a biography of a poem, a 'fanatically detailed investigation of the W.H. Auden poem' which in the end is 'unforgettable.'
  • Smithsonian Scholars make their choices here with a list that concentrates on history, geography and science. One novel that makes its way in is Marie Benedict's The Only Woman in the Room, a fictionalised treatment of the life of Hedy Lamarr, and 'an important reminder, even today, that femininity does not preclude a person from having strength of will or brilliance' in the words of Danielle Hall.
  • GQ Magazine's selection includes New Yorker writer Patrick Radden Keefe's Say Nothing: a true story of memory and murder in Northern Ireland, a work which delves into the culture of Belfast in the Troubles, unpicking the background to the murder of Jean McConville: it's a devastatingly sad reminder of what we faced not so long ago.
  • Slate magazine has a choice by its books editor, Dan Kois: Limbo by Dan Fox, a selection of short essays from the excellent Fitzcarraldo Editions looks interesting. In her selection, critic Laura Miller goes for many we'd second, including Underland, Say Nothing and Normal People.
  • The Washington Post's 'Best Books of 2019' include Say Nothing (see above), and there are also lots in the categories Thrillers and Mysteries, Romance, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Children, Poetry, Fiction, Non-Fiction and Audiobooks (via the same link above). To pick out one from Children, the wonderful Naomi Shihab Nye has There Is No Distance Now in which a 'series of semi-connected (very) short stories explore the influence of class, ethnicity, war, peace, life and death on our daily lives, through the eyes of characters who are both three-dimensional and deeply universal.'
  • Time magazine has 10 Best YA and Children's Books (including the lovely work of Oliver Jeffers), 10 Best Non-Fiction Books (including the great Underland) and 10 Best Fiction Books (including unsurprisingly Margaret Attwood's The Testaments).
  • The Toronto Star has various categories, starting with its overall Best Books of the Year, Part 1: the great nature-writer Barry Lopez features with his new book, Horizon.
  • For NPR, Maureen Corrigan's '10 Unputdownable Reads' include new new 'gorgeous and devastating' novel from Ann Patchett, The Dutch House.
  • Powell's City of Books Best Kids and Young Adult selection is one of their several lists.
  • History Today has a high-quality list. Kathleen Burk chooses the great Robert Caro's Working (a mere couple of hundred pages as we all wait for the final volume of the LBJ biography, and very enjoyable too). Jessie Childs calls Tom Holland's acclaimed Dominion: the making of the Western mind 'the most intellectually stimulating book I've read all year", and Helen Parr goes for Robert Saunders's Yes to Europe! on the previous 'Brexit' referendum of 1975, when we saw ' a British society alert to the devastation nationalism could bring, and anxious of economic disruption.' Hmm.
  • Foyles Books of the Year: Katherine Rundell's The Good Thieves sounds great (the children's winner). 
  • A new one to us, but providing an interestingly different perspective: The Beijinger in its review of the year is perfect for anyone visiting  or wanting to know more about China. Under Red Skies, a multi-generational memoir by Chinese writer and former New York Times researcher Karoline Kan, sounds promising.
  • Constance Grady in Vox gives her favourite 15 books of the year and the uniquitous Sally Rooney is there with Normal People.
  • David Didau has a rich selection on The Learning Spy, including Tom Holland's much-noticed Dominium and Lucy Mangan's Bookworm: a Memoir of Childhood Reading (mention here of the wonderful The Phantom Tollbooth).
  • The Millions has one of the most comprehensive collections around each year,  and the 2019 version has over 90 contributors on their way. Nick Ripatratzone, for example, often writes interestingly.
  • Sinéad Crowley from RTÉ starts with mentioned the BorrowBox app for Irish libraries (including audiobooks). Her crime novel of the year was by the successful Australian writer Jane Harper, The Lost Man, another by this author in which the environment features powerfully. 
  • Not surprisingly, the School Library Journal has some of the best-informed recommendations each year, and this year there are categories such as Picture Books, Transitional Chapter Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Graphic and Non-Fiction. And a special feature - you can download the whole lot as a colour PDF for printing-out.
  • The Belfast Telegraph gives us best books by Northern Ireland writers, from Damien Smyth. We can endorse David Park's short A Run in the Park.  
  • And Largehearted Boy himself (David Gutowski) has chosen his best 11 novels of the year, including Lanny by Max Porter, 'a fable for our time'. 
  • The BBC History Magazine presents 37 books from 11 historians. Susannah Lipscomb goes for Jack Fairweather’s The Volunteer: The True Story of the Resistance Hero Who Infiltrated Auschwitz, which 'tells the astonishing story of underground operative Witold Pilecki, who chose to be imprisoned in Auschwitz in order to uncover what was happening there.'
  • The GoodReads Choice awards round up the best 20 books this year according to their readers, with unsurprisingly Margaret Atwood's (shared) Booker winner The Testaments heading the list.  
  • Jeffrey Brown of PBS has a fine selection of 29 books. Kevin Barry, Ann Patchett and Robert Macfarlane are here. For a different name, there's Jericho Brown with The Tradition, 'Poetry that engages history and today’s front page, in lyrical language that moves quietly and then lands with a punch. Brown’s is a tough and tender voice.'
  • The New European has both the best and the worst books of the year, from Charlie Connelly, the biggest disappointment for him being Ian McEwan's The Cockroach (sad to see how poor McEwan has become in recent years).
  • In the Wall Street Journal, Meghan Cox Gurdon, author of one of our own selections, The Enchanted Hour, gives us the Best Children's Books of the year, and they have lots of other categories too. 
  • Turn to Polygon for the best science fiction and fantasy books of the year. Sarah Gailey's Magic for Liars, set in a 'magical high school', sounds fun.  
  • iNews has Christmas present choices from the best books of the year, with Crime represented by the excellent Attica Locke and Heaven, My Home.
  • Newsroom from New Zealand has Best Kids' Books of the Year, including local ones. Best title goes to Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?
  • The Skinny's Books of 2019 goes for Books of the Year and Honourable Mentions. Hallie Rubenhold's The Five; the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper is getting tremendous reviews, and is here chosen by Rebecca Wojturska.
  • The English and Media Centre Christmas list is always good (unsurprisingly). Annexed by Sharon Doggar reimagines the Anne Frank story through the eyes of 'Peter', and another YA novel, Toffee by Sarah Crossan, also sounds interesting.
  • The Paris Review contributors are always on the 'high end' of recommendations, and this year is no different.
  • ABC News has the Best 24 LGBTQ books, from Lambda Literary (just a list, without comments).
  • The Quietus Best Fiction & Non-Fiction includes in the former category Deborah Levy (great cover for The Man Who Saw Everything), and in the latter Joe Thompson's Sleevenotes ('core curriculum reading for those just embarking on the path of rock music today'.)
  • On RTÉ Damien O'Meara selects the Best Sports Books, starting with Richie Sadlier's Recovering ('the bravest book I've read in a long time').
  • The Big Issue magazine has Kids' Books of 2019, including The Fate of Fausto by the great Oliver Jeffers.
  • Rick O'Shea from RTÉ has made his selection of 30, including Kevin Barry's novel Night Boat to Tangier ('probably the best book I've read this year') and E.M. Reapy's Skin (criminally overlooked this year').
  • Vanity Fair's choice by Phoebe Williams includes The Salt Path by Raynor Winn (great cover), which sounds really good.