My wife and I had only one reading at our wedding and it was from his short book. Our lives have been held together by many things, but John Berger's words are the literary resin that binds us. As we turn to face what 2017 holds in store for us - as the angels chatter distills and clarifies - the incredible legacy of Berger's writing is something magical to draw on. It can help see us through.
68 celebrities died in 2016. Over 56 million people died in total. So, the RIP posts spamming our Facebook walls are for 0.00012% of the people who actually passed in 2016. Wouldn't it be better if we put all our 'mourning' energy into use, to combat some of the ills that contribute to the deaths of millions?
Achieving a ban on nuclear weapon is not as hard as it sounds, as I've outlaid before; making nuclear weapons illegal would be the best start to this. This would make it illegal for any country to attain nuclear weapons by the buying, selling or transfer of them, with economic sanctions (or a harshening of sanctions) if a country goes against this.
In the year that voted for Brexit and Trump, the year that took David Bowie, Alan Rickman, A. A. Gill, Leonard Cohen, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (and so very many more), and the year that snatched The Great British Bake Off from the BBC... no one has really been able to talk about anything else except for how bad it's been.
Yes, this year has been replete with sadness, tragedy, hurt and pain. But there has also been love and joy and fun and laughter. We need to look for the light because it's there. And so, as the year draws to a close, take from it the memories that made you smile, the feelings that lifted your soul; those are the things to treasure.
Every generation has a fight on its hands and it looks like ours is going to be a tough one. The major horrors of 2016 represent some horrible and worrying trends in international politics, but we've overcome worse yet. 2016 doesn't have to be the year in which everything went wrong, but can become a turning-point from which we pull together to evince positive change.
It came as something of a revelation this November that the majority of recommendations in the media's annual roundup of the best history books of 2016 were written by men. In response, Twitter was flooded with the names of inspiring female historians, past and present, under the hashtag #HistoryBooksbyWomen. 2016 has seen a plethora of publications by talented women so, to redress the balance somewhat, here are my top picks of the year:
The LGBTQ+ community does indeed owe George Michael a debt of gratitude. Alongside the rest of the world, we thank him for his amazing musical legacy, for his ability to make us sing, dance and cry. However, we in the LGBTQ+ community should also be thankful to have had George Michael as one of 'our own'.
The anticipation hasn't quite been on the same level as Force Awakens, so Rogue One was always going to be on the back foot. The decision to make it a standalone movie, free from the traditional constraints of the space opera franchise, seemed bold. But there's only one thing people care about: does Rogue One live up to, or trump, Force Awakens? Unfortunately it's not quite a black or white answer.