This year I have completed 14 books, no fewer than ten of which were non-fiction, and generally historical. Because of this (and also because it's really hard to choose - I've not even chosen No Picnic on Mount Kenya, which I loved, but please see my review of it from 16th December) I have decided to have two awards for best book.
The first is for The Adventure of English by Melvin Bragg. It relates the history of the English language from its early Anglo-Saxon roots, through the many invasions it endured, in which it refused to be wiped out or overcome, to the global spreading of this versatile tongue. Bragg tells it as a story, including many surprising, amusing and, at times, tense events, that this language has seen. It is a very educational book, but also wonderfully enjoyable, and perfectly easy to read!
The second award goes to Room by Emma Donoghue. This was the one book this year that I truly could not put down, partly because of the dramatic story but also because of the tense writing and interesting style. It is the story of a mother and 5-year-old son (Jack), imprisoned in a garden shed. This home is the only world that Jack knows but the book is as much about what happens outside after their dramatic escape.
The book only has a few natural pauses, and is written in Jack's voice, which only serves to make you want to read on. It is thrilling and gripping - an excellent read.
To date I have watched 16 movies for the first time this year, including three French films (The Untouchables, Romantics Anonymous and The Chorus (English titles)) all of which were excellent. I also particularly enjoyed The Martian and Eddie the Eagle both of which I have watched twice now, and both of which are fantastically fun films!
My top movie, however, goes to a Disney Pixar film from last year (2015) but which I didn't get round to watching, despite being thoroughly hooked by the trailer. It is Inside Out, a brilliant new concept (unlike many animated movies these days) which follows the different characters, or emotions, that live inside the head of a girl. The movie is appropriately thought provoking and touching and gives a whole new idea to why we think the way we do!
There haven't been a huge number of songs that have grabbed my attention this year and there's only a couple that I think I'll still be listening to in another year's time. One of those, though, wins my award for Best Song. Its soft beats that are both melancholy and yet seem to offer a glimmer of hope. It entices and captivates me every time I listen to it. It was released in November 2015, but only came to my (and I think most people's) attention early this year.
The song is Faded by Alan Walker.