10) History of Modern Britain - Andrew Marr
An award winning series, and an exciting and engaging read from the pen of Andrew Marr, it both conducts a historical narrative, and delves deeper into the cultural significance of the history to modern day Britain. Marr follows on from what you’re kept from in History and what we must all come to terms with.
9) The Political Animal - Jeremy Paxman
2008 was the first year of being engagingly active within the Labour party, and meeting many of the names both past and present has been interesting, and getting to know them personally makes you realise beyond the public image, these people are people. Paxman's book thrives on this feeling and should be read by anyone who see's politics and politicians as distant and disengaging, far from it they are human and as Paxman's book recalls for some it's a drive gained from childhoods much less fortunate than most.
8) Modern History of Russia - Robert Service
In the year of Russia electing a new president (and Prime Minster), Service's book certainly resonates in what is a heavy but interesting read. Service starts with the later years of the last Tsar and follows up to the later days of Vladimir Putin. Its insight is excellent and its knowledge second to none, if you want to know the true Russia, then this is the only book you need.
7) All In The Mind - Alastair Campbell
Part time Labour scenester (Really) writes an interesting and engaging read on the subject of depression, the stories he brings together in the setting of the office of a London psychiatrist are heartfelt and extremely powerful, but as the novel unfolds so does the life of Dr Sturrock and the novel ends in a slightly disappointing but on the whole reasonable conclusion, with the death of Sturrock and the realisation that he was always there for others, but could never be there for his family.
6) Browns Britain - Robert Peston
Arguably the man of the year Robert Peston's biography of what makes Gordon Brown tick and what a country under him would be like, and for the most part Peston is correct. Before the economic crisis Brown was pillared from post to post, but now as Peston says he has come out as a man who knows his economic plan, whilst leaving the opposition a team without steam.
5) Jpod - Douglas Coupland
I could have chose several Coupland novels which I discovered this year, but Jpod by far was the most interesting. A humorous novel that follows the world of nerds and nerders(a woman nerd maybe), it's every possible office setting and then some but the weird life in which Ethan, the protagonist tries to continuously to help others around him in the situations that continuously find themselves in. Coupland also appears and his part is linked intrinsically to why the novel has been written, it's simply fantastic.
4) Whats Left? - Nick Cohen
Cohen's argument, (and that is pretty much what it is) about how the Left falls over itself to support causes that are against its entrenched beliefs. Most of Cohen's arguments hit the right spots and yet his occasional pretentiousness can threaten his argument but for the most part he cuts a conclusive and a very convincing argument.
3) Cats Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
This year saw the passing of Kurt Vonnegut, to coincide with this penguin re-released Cat’s Cradle and with it a book that creates a humour in the darkest and most pessimistic of places. Vonnegut creates like in his masterpiece, dry humour in the worst of places, in Slaughterhouse 5 it’s the battlefields of Europe, in Cat’s Cradle it’s the end of the world due to the specialist concoction called Ice nine, a due reminder that Kurt Vonnegut is gone but will never be forgotten.
2) Flat Earth News – Nick Davies
An exposure on the very heart of journalism, and one that makes you worry what constitutes for journalism each and every day, and with the introduction of the “free” papers I can only see this becoming even more the norm. Having studied the industry deeply, this book backs up what most long lamented “media” students know, sadly most of government doesn’t, and this industry which is coated in shoddiness remains as powerful as it ever was, when it’s not half as well investigated as before.
1) Pies & Prejudice – Stuart Maconie
Radcliffe and Maconie brought back decent music to primetime Radio 2, and probably produced the only half decent Lesley Douglas decision of her short-lived but “Dr Beeching” like tenure of Radio 2 and 6 Music. Maconie originally released the book in 2007, but the cost effective paperback was released in 2008 and tells of his rediscovery of the north and along with the general factual nature its heart warming and beautiful. A book written by a northerner for all, it holds none of the snobby southern stereotypes and should be held up as the one true travel book on the north.
As one northern saying goes “its super smashing great”
List complied by Matt Hurst