by Stephen Tall on December 10, 2009
If you could choose up to three items for your Christmas stocking, what would they be? That was the question LDV posed to a group of Lib Dem bloggers. All this week we’re revealing what they told us, with all their choices added to the Amazon carousel widget featured on our home-page, referral fees from which will help support Lib Dem Voice: so get clicking and ordering. You can read Part I here. In part two, four more bloggers – Jonathan Calder, James Graham, Alix Mortimer and Paul Walter – give us the low-down on their Xmas faves.
1) Real England: The Battle Against the Bland by Paul Kingsnorth
Kingsnorth offers a double rarity: a modern environmental book that loves the natural world and a left-wing book that loves England.
2) Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood: Live from Madison Square Garden
Winwood can even make Eric Clapton sound exciting again. The two Hendrix songs are the best thing since, well, Hendrix.
3) The Last Resort
Hope can flourish even in a desolate seaside resort. Polish-born Pawel Pavilowski studies Britain at its seediest.
1) The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better by Richard Wilkinson.
2) Power Grid – not just a board game but a lesson in economics of energy!
My cheeky fourth option would be:
4) The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas by Ariane Sherine (Editor).
1) Shaping the Nation: England 1360-1461 (New Oxford History of England) by Gerald L Harriss
Gerald Harriss is pretty much the living authority on the period and the Oxford History series is a chance for authorities to offer a classic restatement of Absolutely Everything, so I’m expecting a feast. Read it for a glimpse of the roots of nationhood, the birth of the professional classes, the increasing economic choice available to the people (clue: the plague helped), the shaping of the modern justice system, the first appeals to the ideas of “common weal” and “good governance”, and generally for an understanding of just how useless your school history classes were.
2) Wild Swimming Coast: Explore the Secret Coves and Wild Beaches of Britain by Daniel Start
If you’re a latecomer to swimming like me, the idea of swimming the sea is utterly thrilling. You mean I can go into the big blue wobbly thing whenever I like ? And swimming in bits that don’t often get swum in, well, I’m already shivering behind a rock in anticipation. The idea behind this book almost seems like a physical expression of everything that is liberal.
3) Shadow Pasts: “Amateur Historians” and History’s Mysteries by William D Rubinstein
An academic historian gets down and dirty with the “amateurs”, with chapters on cause celebres like the Princes in the Tower, JFK’s assassination and the identity of Shakespeare. I came across this while writing a recent blog post about crank history, and I’ll be interested to see whether it answers my questions – why do people get obsessed with particular bits of history and what does the divide between “professional” and “amateur” history really boil down to?
1) True Compass by Edward Kennedy.
One of my top three heroes, up there with Ashdown and Churchill! As he was writing it as he was dying of cancer I expect it to be an honest book, but I admired the man so much I’ll read whatever it is like.
2) Coming Back to Me by Marcus Trescothick.
There has been a serious taboo about depression in society. This has led to people completely misunderstanding it and failing to recognise it as an illness which can affect anyone. Marcus Trescothick is to be much admired in frankly explaining his illness in public, and the reviews say this is a brilliant book.
3) Sorry, but if I wanted all politicky things for Christmas I’d expect to be quietly put down. I am yearning after a wine breather. Being a person of impulse, when I fancy a tipple of red wine I usually want it NOW. It is so annoying to either have to let it breathe for 30 minutes or drink it while it is still a bit cheeky. So this device bubles through air for a minute or two and you’ve got it perfectly ready. Magic!