Summer Reading List

Parliament’s Summer Reading List

MPs often use the summer recess to catch up on reading from the rest of the year. Keith Simpson MP, who was PPS to William Hague, traditionally produces the summer reading list.

There is a tendency to favour political and historical biography and, as you would expect, a strong slant towards foreign affairs. According to ComRes polling, the only novel to make it into the top three choices in 2013 was Gone Girl. The year before both 50 Shades of Grey and Bring Up the Bodies featured.

From Simpson’s list, I am personally tempted by the following:

  • How To Be a Minister  former Labour Cabinet Minister John Hutton and former Permanent Secretary Leigh Lewis, have brought their own experiences to an up-to-date version of a guide for new ministers. Gerald Kaufman’s original is still the seminal guide.
  • In The Too Difficult Box The Big Issues Politicians Can’t Crack  former Labour Cabinet Minister Charles Clarke has edited a series of lectures by former ministers and experts on all the big issues frequently avoided by Whitehall, including but not limited to Europe, climate change, pensions, banking regulation, immigration, Lords reform, and assisted dying.
  • Coming Up Trumps: a Memoir – by the indomitable Baroness Trumpington, whose CV includes the Women’s Land Army, Bletchley Park, a New York advertising agency, law, local government and the Department of “Ag and Fish”.
  • Women of the World: The Rise of the Female Diplomat  Helen McCarthy traces the role women have played in international diplomacy from the 19th century, receiving equal rights for admission to the Foreign Service only in 1946.

NCVO’s Summer Reading List

Entering into this spirit of this, here are NCVO’s top book recommendations, available in all good bookshops:

  • GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History  this book tells the story of GDP, making sense of a statistic that appears constantly in the news and politics, but that hardly anyone actually understands. Recommended by NCVO’s Senior Research Officer, David Kane.
  • It Ain’t What You Give, It’s the Way That You Give It – a comprehensive guide to charitable giving, it’s been described as the Freakonomics of the charity world. This one comes recommended by our new Head of Policy, Ruth Driscoll
  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century – Thomas Piketty’s tome has been making its way around the policy team. At 695 pages the entire summer holidays may just be necessary to complete it. Senior Policy Officer Andrew O’Brien describes it as his ‘must read’ for the summer
  • Finance and the Good Society New York Times’ best-selling economist Robert Shilling rethinks the role of the finance industry in contributing to society. It’s on Director of Public Policy Karl Wilding’s to-read list, so it is bound to be good.
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Charlotte was our senior external relations officer and public affairs consultant. She has left NCVO

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