It's that time of year again - skies are blue, birds are singing in the trees and soon politicians will be flaunting their intelligence with their summer reading lists. Back in the sunny days of opposition, David Cameron handed his MPs a hefty 12-page list for their holidays - no Jilly Cooper or Stieg Larsson for the wicked. Obama also went public with the worthy works he carted off with him to Martha's Vineyard last year, among them Hot, Flat And Crowded - Why We Need A Green Revolution And How It Can Renew America by Thomas Friedman. While Gordon Brown, in keeping with his dour demeanour, sentenced himself to doom-mongering The Assault on Reason by Al Gore, while he shivered on a windy beach in Suffolk.
So what self-improving tomes should be required reading for politicians this summer?
As recommended by blogger The Political Reader:
If political books were like fashion the book of the season would be David Brooks' 'The Social Animal '. A guide for those wanting to rationally apply the irrationality at the heart of human actions, Brooks' book has proved a must-read for Barack Obama and David Cameron. Similar to 'Nudge ', this could easily become the guide to understanding the key undertones of Western governments.
For those who want to look Stateside before the primary season gets into full swing, few books so eloquently explore the paradoxes at the heart of the electorate who will choose in November 2012 as social anthropologist Tristram Riley-Smith's 'The Cracked Bell '. Once you've got to know the ways of the people who will decide, discover the basis on which presidents are judged with 'The Leaders We Deserved ' by Alvin Felzenberg. Here, he identifies five key criteria for assessing the performance of American Presidents.
On the return flight, 'The Origins of Political Order ' by Francis Fukuyama, the man who encouraged "the end of History" and neo-conservatism before renouncing the latter, is the must-read for the MPs who don't just want to be in politics, but begin to master it.
The one to miss this summer is 'Ed ' which tells us little more than what we already assumed about the Miliband brothers' relationship after September's leadership election. However, it provides some material for a future biography of the story's most interesting character, the Mili-Mum.
For those struggling to remember all the names, faces and constituencies of their newly Honourable Friends of the 2010 intake, Total Politics' 'Class of 2010 ' is the ultimate way of learning all the facts and figures for 2010's unprecedented intake.
The Political Reader can be found at www.ThePoliticalReader.com or on Twitter @PoliticalReader.
As recommended by James Stephens of Biteback Publishing:
No self-respecting MP should be seen on the beach this summer without a copy of In Defence of Politicians: In Spite of Themselves ' - it might actually help them regain self-respect. The veteran political commentator argues that though we may have a low opinion of politicians in the wake of the expenses scandal, we simply cannot do without them, presenting the case for their defence and offering recommendations for rehabilitating them in the eyes of voters.
If you enjoyed reading Chris Mullin's diaries - Decline and Fall and A View From the Foothills - you really ought to seek out his classic political thriller A Very British Coup, which has been recently re-published. Mullin wrote it nearly thirty years ago but as a snapshot of British political machinations of the time, it still makes a terrific, pacy read.
Personally, I am reserving DR Thorpe's recent biography of Harold Macmillan - Supermac - for my beach read. It is such a mighty looking tome that I am intimidated every time I look at it and I can tell it's going to take some serious application to get through.