If there’s one major drawback to my iPad, it’s the addictiveness of the Amazon Kindle app. The ease with which I can obtain a book is so blatant that I sometimes get shocked by the amount of my credit card bill.
Having said that, however, as we’re entering the tail end of summer 2012 and therefore should be considering some summer reading, I have a few titles that I can recommend to you.
- Johnson’s Life of London, by Hizzonor the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. Unlike most political books, this isn’t a campaign manifesto, but a personal history of Boris’s city featuring some of its more colorful characters. Boris is one of those people who writes the way he talks; there’s no mistaking the prose for anyone else’s, and that’s where most of the fun is. Definitely worth a pickup if you’re planning a trip.
- The Perfect Nazi by Martin Davidson. The author is a documentary producer whose maternal grandfather, it turns out, was a former member of Hitler’s SS. Although Mr. Davidson wasn’t particularly close to his grandfather, he nonetheless identified enough with him that the revelation stuns him into having a “there but for the Grace of God” moment, and he responds by thoroughly researching his grandfather’s history. It’s not very often that you see personal histories that well documented, or that well researched for that matter. It’s definitely readable, but some may find the details to be disturbing, particularly those passages where the author confronts the documentation of anti-Semitism in his grandfather’s youth.
- Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. Technically speaking this isn’t a new book, but books are always new to someone who’s never read them before. In this case, Mr. Krakauer’s account of the life and death of Chris McCandless, a young traveller who attempted an adventure in Alaska and lost his life in the process, inspired a movie directed by Sean Penn and ignited a conversation over whether this man was brought down by stupidity, hubris or just plain bad luck.
- Orwell in Spain by George Orwell. I actually bought this during a Via Rail trip to Toronto, while considering the controversy over the renovations to Norman Bethune’s house; it occurred to me that I should read up more on the Spanish Civil War in which both Dr. Bethune and Mr. Orwell took part. This volume is a collection of Mr. Orwell’s writings on his war experience, including not just the book Homage to CAtalonia but also letters to his family and friends, as well as articles and essays written afterwards. As one of the greatest essayists of the 20th century, any Orwell collection makes for a pleasant summer reading experience.
There are at least three other books I’m still working on finishing before the summer’s out. And if anyone else has got some recommendations for good books they’ve come across, please feel free to let me know in the Comments section.