Apart from reviews, I've given up trying to keep up with the current books, albums, arts events etc; so I'm not about to give you my best of list for this year. I find those lists rather tiresome anyway. So, no, I can neither recommend nor not recommend the latest books by Heaney and Armitage; because I haven't read them. I may get round to it one day. But some things I have read and liked this year, in no particular order:
1) Brain Scream At Night by Paul Sutton
2) A lovely pamphlet by David Morley
3) Sidings by Richard Barrett
4) In the Assarts by Jeff Hilson
5) The Thief by Gill Andrews
6) Folklore by Tim Atkins
7) A Map of Verona by Henry Reed
The last was published in 1946 and I found it in a bookshop in Liverpool for the princely sum of £2.
There's lots more, I'm sure, and by the end of this year, I hope to have read only my second novel of the year. I hope to read more next year. I've just got so little attention span. I am looking forward to Elizabeth Baine's The Birth Machine.
Albums? Nothing much new. I found a copy of Genesis by Stan Tracey in an Oxfam, and I enjoyed Peepers by Polar Bear, and I picked up the odd bargain from Fop. Oh, and the Neil Cowley Trio's Radio Silence. But again I don't keep up. I don't see why there can't be advantages to being over 50, and not keeping up with what's current is one of them.
This is only a provisional list. If I think about what I read this year a bit more carefully, I might come back to it. On the other hand, I might not.