Reading

Peter Goodhew

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):

Emile Zola Germinal
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
Jared Diamond Collapse
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.

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