My annual list – these books will keep you company on rainy days and sunny beaches (provided the sun ever comes out!). As always, a ‘caveat emptor’ – some of these books might already be in the bag (I’ve read them), some might not get read at all, while I might read a book or two not on the list (if so, I’ll post additions on Twitter). Enjoy the books!
Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehesi Coates This powerful book, part memoir and part political treatise, is a stunning depiction of the emotional impact of growing up black in America. In a time when racial and ethnic differences are front and center in the national conversation this is a must read. 152 pages
SPQR – A History of Ancient Rome – Mary Beard The classicist from Cambridge University has written a compelling account of ancient Rome’s rise and fall. Like the best written history, this book teaches us about the past while giving us a chance to reflect on the present. 575 pages
Doomed to Succeed – Dennis Ross The historian, diplomat, and Middle East expert has written an insightful review of the history of American-Israeli relations, focusing on the presidents and their administrations and how they have either supported (mostly) or not supported (rarely) the Middle East’s only democracy. 474 pages
Everybody’s Fool – Richard Russo The author paints a vivid picture of small town life in upstate New York, incorporating a bit of ‘who done it’ along the way. They say you can’t go home again, but every once in a while you can visit. 500 pages
Purity – Jonathan Franzen Arguably America’s greatest contemporary novelist, Franzen turns the structure of Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’ into a twisted tale that reminds us of how deeply inter-connected we all are, while at the same time confronting us with the knowledge of how challenging it can be to maintain our closest relationships and to fully open up to another person. 500 pages
This summer’s Shakespeare play is Macbeth. Can there be any better play of the Bard’s to read during this deeply unsettling election season? What does power mean and how much is it worth? And remember, be careful what you wish for! Who can forget the striking couplet from the end of the Witches speech in Act IV, scene 1 – “Double, double, toil and trouble – fire burn, and cauldron bubble.”