This is the time of year when I take a look back at some of the best things I’ve experienced this year. It may be spy book related or it may not, but it’s things I recommend checking out yourself if you have the time and inclination. I continue with part two that leans more heavily into the spy related items.
Meeting with Spybrarians –
This year I had another opportunity to connect up with a number of folks I first encountered due to the Spybrary podcast. This year I had the pleasure of hanging out with Shane Whaley, Gary Dexter, Jeffery Westhoff, John Koeing, Clarissa Aykroyd, Alice Dryden, Chris Carr and more. All are extremely interesting individuals and getting to meet in person and talk has been a wonderful experience.
Favorite Books –
Although I didn’t read as much as I would have hoped, I did get through a few good ones. These were all my top reads this year. If you pick up any one of them, you’ll have a great time.
- American Spy by Lauren Wilkerson
- Spy’s Fate by Arnaldo Correa
- Agent Running in the Field by John le Carré
- Island of Lost Maps by Myles Harvey
- The Night Heron Trilogy by Adam Brookes
- Joe Country by Mick Herron
I also had the chance to revisit a number of classic spy novels in a class/discussion group run by the Newberry Library in Chicago. The Miernik Dossier, Our Man in Havana, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and more were all discussed over the eight week class. I loved the chance to hear different opinions about these books even if I disagreed with some of them. No surprise that Tinker, Tailor led to some of the most interesting discussions.
Surprising opportunities –
Since I started writing here a few years back and it’s led to a few fun opportunities this year.
I was able to give a short lecture on John le Carré at the university I work at. I later recorded a version of it and posted it here.
Following an unsolicited request from the editor of the in-flight magazine for Cathay Pacific, I wrote an article on locations in various adaptions of John le Carré novels. It was published in both English and Chinese and given the captive audience for these types of things, probably read by thousands of people. Pretty neat.
Shane Whaley of the Spybrary podcast was also kind enough to invite me back on the show. I was able to talk with him and Matthew Bradford about Agent Running in the Field, host a two part round table on the Quiller series, record a review of the movie Spies in Disguise with my son Leo, and interview Henry Hemming on his latest book Agents of Influence.
Finally, one day in January, the site had over 14,000 views in one day with almost all of them looking at my post on the first lines of le Carré novels. A little digging revealed that the UK version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire had a question asking whether a quote was the first line from one of four authors, one of them being le Carré. Spoiler alert, it wasn’t from the le Carré novel.
That’s a portion of what was great in 2019 but I’m already looking forward to what 2020 might have to offer!