Summer Reading List

With school over, and many months ahead filled with warm weather and restful days, I’ve put it upon myself to attempt to read one book a week. This challenge, I’m hoping, will help me achieve two goals.

  1. Get through the massive pile of unread books I’ve slowly acquired over the year
  2. Ingrain a behaviour of reading each day

As part of this, I’ve created a list of 16 books to get through for the Summer period, each of a range of lengths and categories.

Thus, I unveil to you, my ‘Summer Reading List – 2018’.

Fiction
Non-Fiction
Biography
Poetry

Fiction

The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera

In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera tells the story of a young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanising and one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover. This magnificent novel juxtaposes geographically distant places, brilliant and playful reflections, and a variety of styles to take its place as perhaps the major achievement of one of the world’s truly great writers.

Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell

I must make a confession here, I love Orwell’s writing, and I’m attempting to read all of his works, so far I’ve read Animal Farm, 1984 and Why I Write, with Books vs Cigarettes sitting on my shelf waiting for another time.

This unusual fictional account – in good part autobiographical – narrates without self-pity and often with humour the adventures of a penniless British writer among the down-and-out of two great cities. The Parisian episode is fascinating for its expose of the kitchens of posh French restaurants, where the narrator works at the bottom of the culinary echelon as a dishwasher, or plongeur. In London, while waiting for a job, he experiences the world of tramps, street people, and free lodging houses. In the tales of both cities, we learn some sobering Orwellian truths about poverty and society.

The Handmaids Tale – Margaret Atwood

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez

The brilliant, bestselling, landmark novel that tells the story of the Buendia family, and chronicles the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love—in rich, imaginative prose that has come to define an entire genre known as “magical realism.”

Non-Fiction

The Origins of Political Order – Francis Fukuyama

Virtually all human societies were once organised tribally, yet over time most developed new political institutions which included a central state that could keep the peace and uniform laws that applied to all citizens. Some went on to create governments that were accountable to their constituents. We take these institutions for granted, but they are absent or are unable to perform in many of today’s developing countries—with often disastrous consequences for the rest of the world…

…Drawing on a vast body of knowledge—history, evolutionary biology, archaeology, and economics—Fukuyama has produced a brilliant, provocative work that offers fresh insights on the origins of democratic societies and raises essential questions about the nature of politics and its discontents.

Chasing the Scream – Johann Hari

It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned in the United States. On the eve of this centenary, journalist Johann Hari set off on an epic three-year, thirty-thousand-mile journey into the war on drugs. What he found is that more and more people all over the world have begun to recognise three startling truths: Drugs are not what we think they are. Addiction is not what we think it is. And the drug war has very different motives to the ones we have seen on our TV screens for so long.

In Chasing the Scream, Hari reveals his discoveries entirely through the stories of people across the world whose lives have been transformed by this war. They range from a transsexual crack dealer in Brooklyn searching for her mother, to a teenage hit-man in Mexico searching for a way out. It begins with Hari’s discovery that at the birth of the drug war, Billie Holiday was stalked and killed by the man who launched this crusade–and it ends with the story of a brave doctor who has led his country to decriminalise every drug, from cannabis to crack, with remarkable results.

Chasing the Scream lays bare what we really have been chasing in our century of drug war–in our hunger for drugs, and in our attempt to destroy them. This book will challenge and change how you think about one of the most controversial–and consequential–questions of our time.

Alt-America – David Neiwert

Just as Donald Trump’s victorious campaign for the US presidency shocked liberal Americans, the seemingly sudden national prominence of white supremacists, xenophobes, militia leaders, and mysterious “Alt-Right” leaders mystifies many. But the extreme Right has been growing steadily in the US since the 1990s, with the rise of patriot militias. Following 9/11, conspiracy theorists found fresh life; and in virulent reaction to the first black president of the country, militant racists have come out of the woodwork. Nurtured by a powerful right-wing media sector in radio, TV, and online, the Far Right, Tea Party movement conservatives, and Republican activists found common ground – an alternative America that is resurgent, even as it has been ignored by the political establishment and mainstream media. Investigative reporter David Neiwert has been tracking extremists for more than two decades, and here he provides a deeply reported and authoritative report on the background, mindset, and growth of Far Right movements across the country. The product of years of reportage, and including the most in-depth investigation of Trump’s ties to Far Right figures, this is a crucial book about one of the most disturbing sides of American society.

Bullshit Jobs – David Graeber

Be honest: if your job didn’t exist, would anybody miss it? Have you ever wondered why not? Up to 40% of us secretly believe our jobs probably aren’t necessary. In other words: they are bullshit jobs. This book shows why, and what we can do about it.

In the early twentieth century, people prophesied that technology would see us all working fifteen-hour weeks and driving flying cars. Instead, something curious happened. Not only have the flying cars not materialised, but average working hours have increased rather than decreased. And now, across the developed world, three-quarters of all jobs are in services, finance or admin: jobs that don’t seem to contribute anything to society. In Bullshit Jobs, David Graeber explores how this phenomenon – one more associated with the Soviet Union, but which capitalism was supposed to eliminate – has happened. In doing so, he looks at how, rather than producing anything, work has become an end in itself; the way such work maintains the current broken system of finance capital; and, finally, how we can get out of it.

This book is for anyone whose heart has sunk at the sight of a whiteboard, who believes ‘workshops’ should only be for making things, or who just suspects that there might be a better way to run our world.

The Big Four – Ian D. Gow & Stuart Kells

Across the globe, the so-called Big Four accounting and audit firms – Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and KPMG – are massively influential. Together, they earn more than US$100 billion annually and employ almost one million people. In many profound ways, they have changed how we work, how we manage, how we invest and how we are governed.

Stretching back centuries, their history is a fascinating story of wealth, power and luck. But today, the Big Four face an uncertain future – thanks to their push into China; their vulnerability to digital disruption and competition; and the hazards of providing traditional services in a new era of transparency.

Both colourful and authoritative, this account of the past, present and likely future of the Big Four is essential reading for anyone perplexed or fascinated by professional services, working in the industry, contemplating joining a professional services firm, or simply curious about the fate of the global economy.

The Prince – Niccolò Machiavelli  

The Prince is a 16th-century political treatise by the Italian diplomat and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli.

Although it was written as if it were a traditional work in the mirrors for princes style, it is generally agreed that it was especially innovative. This is only partly because it was written in the vernacular Italian rather than Latin, a practice which had become increasingly popular since the publication of Dante’s Divine Comedy and other works of Renaissance literature.

The Prince is sometimes claimed to be one of the first works of modern philosophy, especially modern political philosophy, in which the effective truth is taken to be more important than any abstract ideal. It was also in direct conflict with the dominant Catholic and scholastic doctrines of the time concerning politics and ethics.

Biography

What Happened – Hilary Rodham Clinton

For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet.

Dreams From My Father – Barack Obama

Nine years before the Senate campaign that made him one of the most influential and compelling voices in American politics, Barack Obama published this lyrical, unsentimental, and powerfully affecting memoir, which became a #1 New York Times bestseller when it was reissued in 2004. Dreams from My Father tells the story of Obama’s struggle to understand the forces that shaped him as the son of a black African father and white American mother—a struggle that takes him from the American heartland to the ancestral home of his great-aunt in the tiny African village of Alego.

Boy – Roald Dahl

In Boy, Roald Dahl recounts his days as a child growing up in England. From his years as a prankster at boarding school to his envious position as a chocolate tester for Cadbury’s, Roald Dahl’s boyhood was as full of excitement and the unexpected as are his world-famous, best-selling books. Packed with anecdotes—some funny, some painful, all interesting—this is a book that’s sure to please.

Poetry

the princess saves herself in this one – Amanda Lovelace

“Ah, life- the thing that happens to us while we’re off somewhere else blowing on dandelions & wishing ourselves into the pages of our favourite fairy tales.”

A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.

Wessex Poems – Tom Hardy

Thomas Hardy claimed that his first love had always been poetry, but it was not until the age of 58 that this first collection, written over a period of 30 years, was published. Wessex was the “partly-real, partly-dream” county that formed the backdrop for most of Hardy’s writings—named after an Anglo-Saxon kingdom and modelled on the real counties of Berkshire, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset, and Wiltshire. The poems deal with classic Hardy themes of disappointment in love and life, and the struggle to live a meaningful life in an indifferent world. Although Hardy’s poetry was not as well received as his fiction, he continued to publish collections until his death, and thanks in part to the influence of Philip Larkin, he is increasingly realised as a poet of great stature.


Blurps courtesy of Goodreads

 

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