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Summer reading suggestions from the ECDA team

Woman sitting on a chair on the beach reading a book under an umbrella
Photo: Julia Sakelli (Pexels)

At the start of the summer holidays we’re all melting away- whether from the physical heat or the mounting workload as we try and finish our projects before our holidays start. If you haven’t yet had the chance to purchase a new book for your holiday getaway, we’re here to suggest a few ideas of what to read from our own individual lists. Tastes vary across the ECDA team. There are those who use the holidays to study up and acquire knowledge on work-related topics, while others prefer to escape into a novel or historical fiction. Take a look at our suggestions below and maybe you’ll find something inspiring for yourself. Happy reading!

Photo of the cover of the book "The Overstory" by Richard Powers

1. The Overstory, by Richard Powers

The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of―and paean to―the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers’s twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours―vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe. (Summary from Amazon)

Photo of the cover of the book "It's OK to be Angry about Capitalism" by Bernie Sanders

2. It’s okay to be angry about capitalism, by Bernie Sanders

A progressive takedown of the uber-capitalist status quo that has enriched millionaires and billionaires at the expense of the working class, and a blueprint for what transformational change would actually look like. (Summary from Pengiun Random House)

Photo of the cover of the book "Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy" by Judd Apatow

3. Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy, by Judd Apatow

Sick in the Head gathers comedy filmmaker Judd Apatow’s most memorable and revealing conversations into one hilarious, wide-ranging, and incredibly candid collection that spans not only his career but his entire adult life. What started as a lifetime’s worth of conversations about comedy becomes something else entirely. It becomes an exploration of creativity, ambition, neediness, generosity, spirituality, and the joy that comes from making people laugh. (Summary from Penguin Random House).

Photo of the cover of the book "Where Did I Go Right?: How the Left Lost Me" by Geoff Norcott

4. Where Did I Go Right?: How the Left Lost Me, by Geoff Norcott

Comedian Geoff Norcott should have been Labour through and through. He grew up on a council estate, both of his parents were disabled, and his dad was a Union man. So, how was it that he grew up to vote Tory? In this courageously honest and provocative memoir, Geoff unpicks his working-class upbringing and his political journey from left to right. Written with warmth, wit and often laugh-out-loud humour, Where Did I Go Right? is Geoff's attempt to understand why he ended up voting 'for the bad guys', and why blue-collared conservatism could be here to stay. (Summary from Monoray)

Photo of the cover of the book "Happy-Go-Lucky" by David Seders

5. Happy-Go-Lucky, by David Sedaris

David Sedaris, the “champion storyteller,” (Los Angeles Times) returns with his first new collection of personal essays since the bestselling Calypso.

Back when restaurant menus were still printed on paper, and wearing a mask—or not—was a decision made mostly on Halloween, David Sedaris spent his time doing normal things. As Happy-Go-Lucky opens, he is learning to shoot guns with his sister, visiting muddy flea markets in Serbia, buying gummy worms to feed to ants, and telling his nonagenarian father wheelchair jokes.

But then the pandemic hits, and like so many others, he’s stuck in lockdown, unable to tour and read for audiences, the part of his work he loves most. To cope, he walks for miles through a nearly deserted city, smelling only his own breath. He vacuums his apartment twice a day, fails to hoard anything, and contemplates how sex workers and acupuncturists might be getting by during quarantine. (Summary from the official David Sedaris website)

Photo of the cover of the book "Berlin Diary" by William L. Shirer

6. Berlin Diary, by William L. Shirer

Transporting readers back to the tumultuous years of Nazi Germany, this gripping firsthand account offers a vivid glimpse into a nation on the brink of cataclysmic transformation. As a foreign correspondent stationed in Berlin during the 1930s, Shirer brings to life the rise of Adolf Hitler and the insidious tightening of the Nazi regime's grip on power. Through vivid prose and keen observations, he delves into the political intrigue and societal upheaval, exposing the erosion of civil liberties and the pervasive air of uncertainty. "Berlin Diary" stands as an unforgettable testament to the resilience of the human spirit amidst the darkest of times, leaving readers both riveted and enlightened by history's crucial lessons. For those seeking a poignant exploration of an era fraught with peril and hope, "Berlin Diary" is an unmissable addition to our Summer book list.

Photo of the cover of the book "I Love You, but I Hate Your Politics: How to Protect Your Intimate Relationships in a Poisonous Partisan World" by Jeanne Safer

7. I Love You, but I Hate Your Politics: How to Protect Your Intimate Relationships in a Poisonous Partisan World, by Jeanne Safer

From friends to relatives to lovers, no relationship is immune to this crisis. I Love You, but I Hate Your Politics draws from interviews with every type of politically mixed couple, as well as Dr. Safer's own experiences as a die-hard liberal happily married to a stalwart conservative. The result is a practical guide to maintaining respect and intimacy in our increasingly divided world.

I Love You, but I Hate Your Politics is sure to educate and entertain anyone who has felt the strain of ideological differences in their personal life. No matter which side of the fence you're on, Dr. Safer offers frank, practical advice for salvaging and strengthening your bonds with your loved ones. This book is required reading for any politically minded friend, relative, or significant other in the Trump era. (Summary from Goodreads)

Photo of the cover of the book "The Good Ancestor: A Radical Prescription for Long-Term Thinking" by Roman Krznaric

8. The Good Ancestor: A Radical Prescription for Long-Term Thinking, by Roman Krznaric

The Good Ancestor reveals six profound ways in which we can all learn to think long-term, exploring how we can reawaken oft-neglected but uniquely human talents like ‘cathedral thinking’ that expand our time horizons and sharpen our foresight. Drawing on radical solutions from around the world, Krznaric celebrates the innovators who are reinventing democracy, culture and economics so that we all have the chance to become good ancestors and create a better tomorrow. (Summary from Goodreads)

Photo of the book "The Fighting Soul: On the Road with Bernie Sanders" by Ari Rabin-Havt

9. The Fighting Soul: On the Road with Bernie Sanders, by Ari Rabin-Havt

Bernie Sanders inspires fervent love and, even among his enemies, a measure of grudging respect—yet, curiously, we know little about who the man really is, with Sanders deliberately keeping the focus on his policies.

Now, with The Fighting Soul, Ari Rabin-Havt takes us where no profiles or televised interviews have been able to go. As a close advisor and deputy campaign manager on Sanders’s most recent—and likely last—presidential campaign, the tireless Rabin-Havt spent more hours between 2017 and 2020 with the Vermont senator than anyone else. Traveling the country for rallies and to support striking workers, the two visited thirty-six states, drove tens of thousands of miles, and ate in countless chain restaurants. One result was a meteoric and galvanizing presidential campaign. Another is The Fighting Soul, an unforgettable chronicle of life on the road with Sanders and the first in-depth portrait of this fiercely independent, and famously private, left-wing firebrand. (Summary from Pengiun Random House)

Photo of the cover of the book "The Word for World Is Forest" by Ursula K. Le Guin

10. The Word for World Is Forest, by Ursula K. Le Guin

When the inhabitants of a peaceful world are conquered by the bloodthirsty yumens, their existence is irrevocably altered. Forced into servitude, the Athsheans find themselves at the mercy of their brutal masters.

Desperation causes the Athsheans, led by Selver, to retaliate against their captors, abandoning their strictures against violence. But in defending their lives, they have endangered the very foundations of their society. For every blow against the invaders is a blow to the humanity of the Athsheans. And once the killing starts, there is no turning back.

What was Sci-Fi once, it is very often reality today. (Summary from Goodreads)

Photo of the cover of the book "PRISMS of the People" by Hahrie Han, Elizabeth McKenna, Michelle Oyakawa

11. PRISMS of the People, by Hahrie Han, Elizabeth McKenna, Michelle Oyakawa

The University of Chicago Press says: Prisms of the People addresses those questions and more. Using data from six movement organizations—including a coalition that organized a 104-day protest in Phoenix in 2010 and another that helped restore voting rights to the formerly incarcerated in Virginia—Hahrie Han, Elizabeth McKenna, and Michelle Oyakawa show that the power of successful movements most often is rooted in their ability to act as “prisms of the people,” turning participation into political power just as prisms transform white light into rainbows. Understanding the organizational design choices that shape the people, their leaders, and their strategies can help us understand how grassroots groups achieve their goals. (Summary from Goodreads)

Photo of the book "Stories of Your Life and Others" by Ted Chiang

12. Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang

Ted Chiang's first published story, "Tower of Babylon," won the Nebula Award in 1990. Subsequent stories have won the Asimov's SF Magazine reader poll, a second Nebula Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and the Sidewise Award for alternate history. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1992. Story for story, he is the most honored young writer in modern SF.

Now, collected here for the first time are all seven of this extraordinary writer's stories so far-plus an eighth story written especially for this volume.

What if men built a tower from Earth to Heaven-and broke through to Heaven's other side? What if we discovered that the fundamentals of mathematics were arbitrary and inconsistent? What if there were a science of naming things that calls life into being from inanimate matter? What if exposure to an alien language forever changed our perception of time? What if all the beliefs of fundamentalist Christianity were literally true, and the sight of sinners being swallowed into fiery pits were a routine event on city streets? These are the kinds of outrageous questions posed by the stories of Ted Chiang. Stories of your life . . . and others. (Summary from Goodreads)

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