As the headline suggests, what follows is a list of summer reading recommendations from Spectator staff members and writers — with more to come shortly. Although, it must be said, there
is one contributor who doesn’t really count as a Spectator staff member or writer…
David Cameron: I’ve been reading a book called
"http://www.amazon.co.uk/Skippy-Dies-Paul-Murray/dp/0141009950/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312376214&sr=1-1">Skippy Dies by Paul Murray, an Irish writer. I read it when
I was in Ibiza and I haven’t managed to finish it, so I’ve picked it up again. What else have I got? I tend to have a pile of books that I dip into. For instance, I’ve got Simon
Sebag Montefiore’s "http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jerusalem-Biography-Simon-Sebag-Montefiore/dp/0297852655/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312376242&sr=1-1">Jerusalem. I’ve been reading that from
the end backwards, which is a slightly strange approach.
Mark Amory: We are going to Corsica at the end of August. My wife will read serious books about Napoleon. I shall read fiction but not the trashy paperbacks that are thought
suitable for some. I see it as a chance to catch up with some large volume I would never get through in London — this year, "http://www.amazon.co.uk/Strangers-Child-Alan-Hollinghurst/dp/0330483242/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1312383330&sr=8-1">The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst, a good read I am
confident, but 563 pages. The ideal small novel to go with it is "http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sense-Ending-Julian-Barnes/dp/0224094157/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312383344&sr=1-1">The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, as gripping as
a thriller, and afterwards you can discuss with companions what exactly did happen and why.
Andrew Neil: I highly recommend "http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cousins-Wars-Religion-Politics-Anglo-America/dp/0465013708/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312376268&sr=1-1">The Cousins’ Wars by Kevin Phillips,
which explains how the English Civil, American Revolution and American Civil War are all linked by the same Anglo-American cultural, political and religious divisions. Fascinating.
Fraser Nelson: When I joined the Scottish Parliament press corps 11 years ago, I lived in fear of Andy Nicoll, Scottish Political Editor of The Sun, after hearing the (untrue)
story that he had headbutted a politician the night before I started working there. But this bear of a man had a dirty secret: during his commute from Dundee he wrote novels. I’m reading his
second book now, The Love and Death of
Caterina. It’s just beautiful and takes you into another world. In this case, a Latin American dictatorship and the psyche of a killer. The murder takes place at the start of the
book so it’s immediately clear that Nicoll isn’t serving up a standard whodunit. The characters and scenes are portrayed so vividly that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t
written by, say, some hot Argentinian talent. But no, it is just the incredible mind of Andy Nicoll.
Jeremy Clarke: You’ll need a book to read to your toddler, but one that won’t bore you. I’ve been reading Churchill’s "http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Early-Life-Roving-Commission/dp/0684823454/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312376334&sr=1-2">My Early Life to my 9 month old grandson, Oscar. It
is our first book. A few days ago we read Sir Winston’s account of a bloody punitive action on the Afghan border. Oscar doesn’t speak yet, but he listened carefully, and I think he found the
rhythms, cadences and vocabulary of the old warrior statesman’s sentences tremendously appealing.
Taki: I’ve just finished Mad
World, Paula Byrne’s wonderful Evelyn Waugh period book. Apart from being beautifully written, it also exposes the extent of the Waugh group’s homosexuality. My God, was there anyone not
at it back then? Richard J. Evans’ The Third Reich
At War has me up every night as I follow my beloved Wehrmacht’s downfall. Great Stuff.
Liz Anderson: Ryanair and easyJet have such small baggage allowances that unless you wear a poacher’s jacket taking enough reading material for a fortnight is a huge problem
— unless you have a Kindle (or iPad). Of course I didn’t totally trust my Kindle not to break down (it didn’t), so I took paperbacks on holiday as well: Jonathan Franzen’s
weighty Freedom; "http://www.amazon.co.uk/Solar-Ian-McEwan/dp/0099549026/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312383399&sr=1-1">Solar by Ian McEwan; "http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zennor-Darkness-Helen-Dunmore/dp/0141033606/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312383412&sr=1-1">Zennor in Darkness by Helen Dunmore; James
Baldwin’s second novel Giovanni’s
Room (spoiler alert: read the foreword by Caryl Phillips last).
And, yes, I did read one book on my Kindle: Jane Shilling’s beautifully written and learned meditation on middle age,
"http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stranger-Mirror-ebook/dp/B004SP1UZW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1312383475&sr=1-1">The Stranger in the Mirror. My suitcase was a lot
lighter on the way home; I must learn to trust my Kindle.
Hugo Rifkind: I’ve just read Joe Dunthorne’s
"http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wild-Abandon-Joe-Dunthorne/dp/024114406X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312376455&sr=1-1">Wild Abandon. Amid the damp dystopia of a failing Welsh
commune, rebellious kids rebel by not rebelling. As an affectionate deconstruction of passive aggressive hopeless hippiedom, Dunthorne’s second book is consistently funny and curiously sexy,
albeit in a rather damp, middle-aged, flabby sort of way. Alternatively, I am absolutely hooked on George R.R.Martin’s "http://www.amazon.co.uk/Game-Thrones-Song-Fire-Book/dp/000647988X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312376480&sr=1-1">Game of Thrones; and I mean hooked.
James Delingpole: I am really surprised that Philip Hensher’s "http://www.amazon.co.uk/King-Badgers-Philip-Hensher/dp/0007301332/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312376514&sr=1-1">King Of The Badgers wasn’t on the Booker longlist. It’s
very dark, very weird, funny, beautifully observed and very well written. Oh and if you haven’t read it Derek Robinson’s "http://www.amazon.co.uk/Piece-Cake-Derek-Robinson/dp/0330284045/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312376540&sr=1-3">A Piece Of Cake (about RAF fighter pilots) is a
masterpiece, one of the best books I’ve ever read.
Martin Bright: Howard Jacobson’s "http://www.amazon.co.uk/Finkler-Question-Howard-Jacobson/dp/1408809931/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312376565&sr=1-1">The Finkler Question was a deserving winner of the
Man-Booker Prize. Not just a very funny book, but a genuine novel of ideas. A profound meditation on the way progressive minds go mushy when it comes to Israel.
Peter Hoskin: As much as I don’t want to sound like a sponsored advertisement for the Kindle, Amazon’s e-reader really does suck the difficulty out of holiday reading. Just load it
up with an entire bookcase-worth of books (many of them free to download, all of them weighing nowt), and then read whatever takes your fancy. On my own Kindle, an anthology of "http://www.amazon.co.uk/Essential-Writings-Emerson-Classics-ebook/dp/B002QJZ9OK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1312382835&sr=8-3">Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writing and my favourite novel, Theodore
Dreiser’s An American
Tragedy, which somehow reads even better during the oppressive heat of summer. But if you haven’t joined the Kindle revolution yet, then how about John O’Hara’s "http://www.amazon.co.uk/Selected-Stories-Vintage-Classics-OHara/dp/0099528797/ref=pd_sim_b_2">Selected Stories, recently republished by Vintage in paper form only? Breezy and incisive
work by one of the great spectators of American life.
Alex Massie: This is a golden era for sports books as publishers appreciate there is a market for literate sports-writing. Two books stand out. Amol Rajan’s
"http://www.amazon.co.uk/Twirlymen-Unlikely-History-Crickets-Greatest/dp/0224083236/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312376663&sr=1-1">Twirlymen is a splendid romp through
the history of spin bowling. A delight from start to finish, it’s a book I dearly wish I’d written myself. Meanwhile, Richard Moore’s "http://www.amazon.co.uk/Slaying-Badger-LeMond-Hinault-Greatest/dp/0224082906/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312376692&sr=1-1">Slaying the Badger is a cracking
re-examination of the rivalry between the American Greg LeMond and the great French champion Bernard Hinault during the 1986 Tour de France. Notionally team-mates, the pair were fierce rivals and
Moore’s account does ample justice to the moment when the English-speaking world began to beat the French at their own game in their own backyard.
David Blackburn: For challenging fiction, try anything on this year’s Booker
longlist, which is the most impressive in living memory. I’m taking Alan Hollinghurst’s "http://www.amazon.co.uk/Strangers-Child-Alan-Hollinghurst/dp/0330483242/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312376636&sr=1-1">The Stranger’s Child and Sebastian
Barry’s On Canaan’s Side away with
me, but D.J. Taylor’s Derby Day and Stephen
Kelman’s Pigeon English come highly
recommended too. In terms of trash, A Death in
Summer, the latest by Benjamin Black (AKA John Banville), is reputably thrilling. Beyond that, I cannot go to a beach without a "http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_2?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=flashman&sprefix=Fl">Flashman novel. I relish in their uncomplicated prose, indulgent jokes
and faithful settings; any one of them will do and they survive re-reading.
Daisy Dunn: A Swiss sanatorium is the unlikely setting of my ultimate summertime literary retreat. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s "http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tender-Wordsworth-Classics-F-Scott-Fitzgerald/dp/1853260975/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312376859&sr=1-1">Tender is the Night has its fair
sprinkling of despair, but the sultry scenes of tangled romance and passion ashore the French Riviera make it an enduring classic. J. M. Coetzee’s "http://www.amazon.co.uk/Summertime-J-M-Coetzee/dp/1846553180/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1312376881&sr=1-1">Summertime is refreshing, but in quite a different way.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2009, it explores the most vibrant years of ‘John Coetzee’ through a fictional autobiographer named Vincent. Like an extended epitaph,
Coetzee’s (auto)biography is self-deprecating and fascinating for being so. Perfect reading for a long-haul flight.