The silly season? For the Westminster bubble it would be hard to identify a month in the year when 'silly' isn't too soft an epithet to describe what most MPs get up to, supposedly on our behalf. But with Parliament in recess the commentariat like to spread the idea that politics is taking a break too. A politics reduced to the Cameron v Miliband knockabout is something plenty of us can't get to the beach quick enough to escape from. A broader definition of politics, one that engages with the everyday, the popular, the cultural is the starting point for a political summer books top ten that would liven up any reading to be done on the beach, or anywhere else for that matter.
Number One : North by Paul Morley
One of the sharpest critics of popular culture is surely the inestimable Paul Morley. For those of a certain age we began reading him in the late 1970's in the then vital weekly fix that was the New Musical Express. In his new book The North Paul returns to his geographical roots, mainly though not exclusively in the North-West, with a sparkling account rich in history and insight to bring light to a region traditionally regarded by those down south as a bit on the grim side.
Number Two : The Frontman by Harry Browne
Providing an alternative soundtrack for the seasonal break , The Frontman by Harry Browne. This is a splendidly vicious polemic against the do-goodery of U2's Bono which starts out with the best of intentions and ends up providing a cover for the status quo. That's the state of the world not the ageing rock band!
Number Three : Masks of Anarchy by Michael Demson
A graphic novel type history of the finest piece of radical poetry ever written? Masks of Anarchy by Michael Demson uses this most accessible of forms to provide a fascinating, and uplifting, history of Shelley's masterpiece, easy-to-read and sure to inspire.
Number Four : The Gaza Kitchen by Laila El-Hadded and Maggie Schmitt
For many part of the fun of being on holiday is trying out a different cuisine. Food , and taste, is a rare feature in the politics of change, its potential however is revealed in all its culinary glory by the amazing cookbook The Gaza Kitchen by Laila El-Hadded and Maggie Schmitt. Each recipe is placed firmly in its Palestinian context, richly illustrated , incredibly informative of life in Palestine via a perspective few had previously thought of, the food that is cooked there. Transform your own cooking habits as a tool that combines good food and practical solidarity, what a grand and novel proposition.
Number Five: The Power of Just Doing Stuff by Rob Hopkins
It is just the kind of idea I imagine appealing to Rob Hopkins author of The Power of Just Doing Stuff. A book that details how small acts can accumulate to produce huge change. Localised, do-it yourself politics that can make a real difference to both individuals and communities.
Number Six: The Relational Society by Mike Rustin
Mike Rustin's latest contribution to the After Neoliberalism Manifesto has its origins perhaps within the ambition of a grander narrative yet rooted in a vital analysis of the key role of human relations for the progressive project there are a variety of connections to this localism too. Read Mike's chapter as a free download here.
Number Seven : Networks of Outrage and Hope by Manuel Castells
Traditional favourite holiday destinations from Portugal,Spain and Greece have been at the epicentre of anti-austerity protests which in large measure cannot be divorced either from the impact of the 2011 Arab Spring. The best available analysis of how these disparate versions of resistance represent a new version of oppositional politics is presented in a new book by social theorist Manuel Castells. Networks of Outrage and Hope
Number Eight : Periera Maintains by Antonio Tabucchi
Pereira Maintains by Portuguese author Antonio Tabucchi is a book that depicts the frighteningly casual way in which prejudice, authoritarianism and brutal state power can mould a gradual descent into fascism.
Nunber Nine : Dominion by CJ Sansom
World War Two provides the backdrop to CJ Sansom's Dominion. Others may have tried to imagine a Britain occupied by Nazi Germany but nobody has come close to Sansom's political insight and crafting of a plot to describe what a Britain that had sued for peace after Dunkirk might have looked like. A stunningly brilliant book, though quite what the final two pages of the afterword denouncing the SNP is doing there I must admit remains beyond me, however not enough to spoil the enjoyment of this fantastic book.
Number Ten : Undercover by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis
And the book of the quarter? It just has to be Undercover by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis. The very best investigative journalism reveals the scale of Britain's secret police agents operating within the anti-racist, environmental, animal liberation and other movements. Reads like a thriller yet never loses sight of the political consequences of what these agents were getting up to and what their actions mean for our understanding of the right to protest. It is rare for a book of this kind to combine such great writing, revelation and popular impact. A read more than enough to liven up any summer, spent on holiday or otherwise.
Note No links in this books review are to Amazon. If you can avoid making a purchase via the tax-dodgers please do so.
Mark Perryman is the co-founder of the self-styled 'sporting outfitters of intellectual distinction' akaPhilosophy Football.