Lib Dem bloggers’ summer reading (Part I)

by Stephen Tall on July 19, 2009

For me, it’s the most difficult decision of the year – which books to take with me on holiday. So, I thought, what could be better than to pick the brains of my fellow Lib Dem bloggers, and ask them to select just two: one should be a political book – whether you want to re-read it, or try something new you’ve been recommended. The other should be your own choice of summer reading – the book you’re most looking forward to reading (again, could be something new or something old). Here’s what they said:

‘Costigan Quist’ (Himmelgarten Cafe)

  • The Wisdom of Whores by Elizabeth Pisani. Well reviewed book looking at how AIDS is dealt with around the world.
  • The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq. Two of Houllebecq’s previous books – Platform and Atomised – are amongst my favourites. Funny, dirty, sexy and politically provocative. Looking forward to discovering how this one measures up.

Mary Reid

  • This summer I will finally get round to reading Barack Obama’s memoir Dreams from my Father, which I’m sure all of you will have read already.
  • For my non-political choice, I have just taken delivery of a copy of Christopher Reid’s latest book, The Song of Lunch. As you might guess from the name, the author is a relative, but I love his work, and will enjoy dipping into his new poems by a loch or up a mountain. The book is described, like all poetry books, as ‘slim’, so it will pack neatly into my handbag.

Paul Walter (Liberal Burblings)

  • I want to finish Barack Obama’s Dreams from my Father. I really do. My bookmarker is stubbornly resting between pages 272 and 273, as my attention was grabbed by the delights, first, of Parky, then of A Fortunate Life by Paddy and now, some might say even more humilaitingly for the 44th POTUS, of Daphne Du Maurier by Margaret Forster (it’s a Cornish thing). So Obama it is for the hols. So far, I have been impressed by his elegant (sometimes too elegant) prose but more impressed by his stories of being an everyday “Joe” (not of the plumbing variety, of course). His experience of childhood life in Hawaii and Indonesia seems to have led to the development of a particularly important strand of Obama’s character. That fly he swatted, for example. That takes years of practice!
  • For my non-politco-anorak book I’ll go for a Tom Sharpe. He’s one of my heroes and a national treasure even though his books are formulaic to the extent that they always seem to end in uproarious chaos involving humiliation, explosions and sexual perversion somewhere along the line. BBC2’s televisual version of Blott on the Landscape was an absolute masterpiece and, perhaps, one of George Cole’s finest performances. I recently picked up a tranche of Sharpes at a jumble sale and I’ll choose The Midden from amongst them. I have already read a great deal of P.G.Wodehouse’s output including all the Jeeves’ ones. He’s also one of my heroes and Sharpe is very much in the Wodehouse mould – Great British stuff usually involving a rather naive character at the epicentre of a right pickle. I’m also a great fan (dare I say it, given his political leanings) of Evelyn Waugh, who is somewhat darker than Wodehouse but still has that wonderful British innocence running through his books. My one book for a Desert Island would be Waugh’s A Handful of Dust. I studied it at A-level. It is a wonderful, wonderful book with the most delicious ending.
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Everyone should read “The Spirit Level” by Richard Wilkinson. His research demonstrates that by almost every objective measure, a more equal society is a better society. That in turn makes it a more Liberal society, so I think every Liberal should read this book.

by Geoffrey Payne on July 19, 2009 at 12:42 pm. Reply #

Any Lib Dems on a limited campaign budget* should read a US book called ‘Run The Other Way – Fixing The Two Party System One Campaign At A Time’.

Its author, Bill Hillsman was responsible for the scrappy insurgent campaign that saw Senator Paul Wellstone elected in Minnesota in 1990, (something of a political earthquake at the time) with funny – and cheap – message ads like this:

The book manages to be both funny & politically revealing at the same time.

by Andy H on July 19, 2009 at 2:27 pm. Reply #

I bought “Akenfield” on a whim yesterday & have read it already, so captivating was it that I just sat there reading until it was finished.

Will now be seeking out “Return to Akenfield”.

I love all this social history business- the works of Robert Roberts have also attained classic status.

by asquith on July 19, 2009 at 8:40 pm. Reply #

My two are: What Terrorists Want by Louise Richardson and Quirkology,The Curious Science of Everyday Lives by Richard Wiseman

by Matt on July 19, 2009 at 10:53 pm. Reply #

I could nominate two and would include:

1.`WW2 `Behind Closed Doors’-Stalin,the Nazis and the West by Lawrence Rees.

This book moves the existing knowledge of how Stalin behaved towards Roosevelt and Churchill seismically and in how they all behaved to one another.

I kept asking one reoccurring question about Poland and believe that the full heroism of the Poles is yet to be fully understood and written by an historian of the magnitude of Lawrence Rees.He is the best modern WW2 authority,in my view.He is an historian whom cares about the humanity, in each individual, in his text, regardless of race,colour or creed.

2.`Paschendaele’ by Philip Warner ( out of print-Pen and Sword) is one account by a man whom has written most on WW1 and its human carnage 1914-18.It brings into focus the terror of WW1 for tens of thousands,French,Canadians,New Zealanders,Australians and Commonwealth Forces.

I also submit the book as a monument to the life of Henry Allingham.

by Cllr Patrick Smith on July 21, 2009 at 11:33 pm. Reply #

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