I cannot remember a week, in the past fifty years, when I have not read a book. Even during the busiest times of my work or family life, there would be a novel at my bedside which would rarely last more than a week. My taste in fiction is catholic, and has changed over time: I started as a teenager with crime novels, graduated at university to nineteenth century classics of English and French literature, enjoyed a period of enthusiasm for French works in the original language, and for the last ten years have been reading 30 to 40 first novels each year as a reader for the Waverton Good Read.
In between the novels I soak up a variety of other genres. I like to read a Shakespeare play before I go to see it. Richard Dawkins is always readable, although for my taste he is a little soft on believers. I have become increasingly interested in the literature on environmental issues, global warming and sustainability. Much of this (at least in the last five to ten years) has been written in a very accessible style. This is important since it raises the chance that many people will read about these critical issues.
As a teenager I was essentially apolitical, but the books I read in my twenties probably turned me into the socialist I am today. I can never forget, nor unlearn the lessons from, novels such as "Germinal", "Catch 22", "The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists" or "All Quiet on the Western Front"
My suggested reading list for someone who aspires to be educated in the 21st century would include (in no particular order):
|Robert Pirsig||Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance|
|Richard Dawkins||The God Delusion|
|Joseph Heller||Catch 22|
|Donald Bligh||What's the Use of Lectures|
|Meadows, Randers and Meadows||Limits to Growth|
|Ben Goldacre||Bad Science|
|David MacKay||Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air|
|Faqeer Sein||Perils of Self-Righteousness|
|William Shakespeare||Any play you have heard of|
|As much as you can manage of||Balzac, Zola, Dickens, Austen, Chomsky|
|Mark Haddon||The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time|
I am open to further suggestions because over fifty years of reading I am fairly sure that I have forgotten much more than I have remembered! Feel free to email me with comments.