Sinéad Desmond: Books of the Year
‘The Mighty Dead’ might just make you want to set off with Homer
Choosing your favourite books of the year is no mean feat. I would normally opt for fiction, but this year the books that have stayed in my head, in my heart and on my bedside table are all nonfiction. If you studied Homer at school or college your relationship with him and your appreciation of The Odyssey and The Iliad tends to end there. The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters, by Adam Nicolson (William Collins), will hopefully, as it did for me, cause you to see them afresh and, I wager, will probably prompt you to revisit them.
Countless books have been written about the remarkable man that was Lawrence of Arabia. And I have read many of them, but Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Scott Anderson (Atlantic), is different in that it includes alongside his story the tales of three Middle Eastern spies. It not only sheds light on the man himself but also offers insight into the current state of affairs in the much beleaguered Middle East.
Any book about the sea is one for me, but the wonderful The Sea and Civilisation: A Maritime History of the World, by Lincoln Paine (Atlantic), reminds us in the most comprehensive of fashions how the sea has, as waves shaping the shoreline, moulded so many civilisations and cultures across the world and throughout history.
Sinéad Desmond is a journalist and anchor of Ireland AM, on TV3