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.