There aren’t very many people I know who don’t have a Kindle or some other e-Reader. I have the Kindle App on my iPad but don’t tend to use it very often because it’s not really that comfortable. My main reason for avoiding getting my books in electronic form is because I worry about the effects on bookshops. I could spend a whole day quite happily browsing, picking up various books, admiring the covers, having a sneaky read. There is no greater therapy. What happens to them if we all download our books in the same format? It’s not great for diversity. I suspect I will have to succumb at some point, though because there simply isn’t enough room in my house to accommodate all my books.
With that in mind, I caught up with Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie who’s loving the Kindle he was given last Christmas. What, I wondered, did he have on it?
It was the name Machiavelli that first caught my eye. Yes, our leader is reading The Prince. Everyone who has an interest in political philosophy has, though, haven’t they?
As you’d expect from the leader of a Liberal Democrat party, John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty is on there.
Willie is a very keen runner and is a regular competitor in the Scottish Coal Carrying Championships. It’s no surprise, then to find to books on not just running, but serious, hardcore running. The first is Born to Run, the account of how Christopher McDougall learned about endurance running from the Tarahumara people in Mexico. The second, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an all night runner by Dean Kamazes chronicles the author running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. I guess leading the Scottish Liberal Democrats must feel like a test of endurance at times – but the indications are from reading these books that you get there in the end and are better for it.
Modern day politics next, former Labour MP’s Chris Mullin’s acclaimed diary, A View from the Foothills is next, and then the book The Coalition Chronicles by Ian Martin. The cover says it’s “satirical, scatological and sexually explicit” so don’t, whatever you do, buy this thinking it’s factual.
I never really saw Willie as much of an Oscar Wilde fan. I love The Importance of Being Earnest but its inclusion on Willie’s list was surprising. Maybe he’s more literary than I give him credit for.
The final selection was from the series that everyone’s talking about, the first book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
There’s quite a balanced selection there, from literature to sport to fiction to politics – and the inclusion of a modern satire signifies the ability to laugh at yourself even in the current climate.
When I go to people’s houses, I invariably look through their bookshelves. I’ve quite enjoyed this 21st century equivalent. Perhaps I shall go and find some more Kindles to inspect…
* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings