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Saturday 21 July 2018

Summer Reading Picks: Changing The Question

It’s the time of year when celebrities of one kind or another are asked to tell us their Summer Reading plans, providing them – if they choose - with opportunities to show themselves in a good light and do favours for their friends. The latter is not always acknowledged – though in today’s Financial Times, I notice Philippe Sands prefacing a book choice with a “My friend …” thus avoiding any risk of a later appearance in Private Eye’s end of year log-rolling awards, for which there are no shortage of candidates among those who review and recommend books.

I had the thought that the Summer Reading formula could be varied a bit. Instead of asking about actual reading plans, I imagined this question:

If you could only take on holiday this year a book which you read sometime last year (2017), what would it be?

The question is a challenge for me because I don’t go on holidays and don’t often read a book a second time unless in connection with something I am writing. But I looked at the books I reviewed here in 2017 and decided that if I had no choice this summer but to re-read, I would pick:

Madeleine Thien Do Not Say We Have Nothing, reviewed here on 12 April 2017, which has an extraordinary layered complexity which deserves a second reading.

And then, since that book would take up a lot of my imaginary holiday, I would settle for a short novel which I have already read twice and would have no trouble reading again:

Graham Swift, Mothering Sunday, reviewed here on 8 June 2017

But having re-written the summer reading picks question, it's now back to Freud.

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