Due to circumstances beyond my control I never posted a suggested summer reading list last year and would have been quite happy to drop the idea until I received numerous, (alright three), requests to re-introduce it. In spite of the fact that an alarming number of the marketing communications fraternity have seen fit to join Ireland’s already crowded battalion of published authors, you are not going to find any chick lit, hen lit or fifty shades of porn lit.

Summer reading should strictly eschew any marketing material; if you are trying to re-boot yourself, the last thing you want is to have to wade through some mangled mush so what we are looking for is some well-written, thought-provoking books that nourish your unconscious with inspiration, ideas and insights which can be re-activated as required in the coming year.

Robert and Edward Skidelsky’s How Much is Enough? deals with the economic philosophy which is enjoying a new lease of life as the long-established economic orthodoxies are challenged by the financial and economic crises. The Skidelskys are seeking to subvert the dominance of economic growth in our political discourse; ‘the theology of our age’, and return to a time when philosophy and in particular the idea of the good life took precedence.

They argue that the assumption that there is a ‘good life’ and that money is merely a means to its enjoyment has been shared by every great world civilisation except our own and that our Faustian pact with economic growth and wealth is doing more damage to ourselves than it is to the environment. The idea is gaining attention and we need to focus on what is being said.

For anyone wishing to escape into the novelists’ invented world, I can recommend two books; Javier Marias’s The Infatuations and John le Carre’s A Delicate Truth. The first by the Spanish writer widely tipped to win the Nobel Prize is an intense thriller which throws a dark light on the manners and morals of contemporary European middle-class lives. Starting with a seemingly random killing in the broad Madrid daylight which unravels as being not at all random, it is an absorbing metaphysical work which immediately makes you part of the lives of the main characters and leaves you gasping after the powerful twist at the end.

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A Delicate Truth by John le Carr

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