Whilst summer holidays in 2021 might not be quite what we’d have expected, there’s no better time than now to be settling into a good book in the sunshine with something cold in your hand! The ECI team share their recommendations as to what they’re reading this summer.
Summer, by Ali Smith
The last in Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet, and I’m quite sad for it to be over, I’ve loved them so much. The series is written over a four-year period, with tight publishing deadlines meaning each one, as well as being an ode to the season itself, is also incredibly contemporary, weaving the weather in with the issues of the day. When I started Ali Smith’s first book, Autumn, back in October, I was reading about the curling of the leaves alongside Brexit, and now I’m reading Summer, which talks about George Floyd, the pandemic, but also the warmth of the sun on your skin. It’s beautifully written, discusses politics alongside art – especially highlighting lesser known female artists – and I would heartily recommend that when autumn comes around, you start reading them alongside the seasons too!
Ego is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday
Ego is the Enemy reflects upon society’s own flaws, particularly focussing on the egotistical attitude that many individuals, including you and I, possess. The author shows that ego is within all of us, and that at every stage of our life, it is our enemy. While the book doesn’t rely on Freud’s clinical interpretation of the word, Holiday defines the ego as “an unhealthy belief in your own importance” which prevents us from achieving self-growth and having a purposeful life. I often recommend this to friends and family – not as a subtle dig – but because I think it is very relevant to modern obsession with social media and portraying a curated part of our lifestyle for an ego boost. When reading, you’ll often ask yourself, “Am I like this?” and the answer will most likely be “No way I am like this… wait, perhaps I am a tiny bit”. Useful thoughts and lessons that have definitely helped me.
Why we Sleep, by Matthew Walker
I actually decided to pick up Why we Sleep after seeing it in a bookshop in Yorkshire and just how interesting it looked (I know you’re not meant to judge a book by the cover but it always works for me!) Why we Sleep is a real scientific exploration into the research into solving why we sleep, and why it’s important, linking a good night’s sleep to everything from avoiding disease to becoming more creative. It’s definitely enough to make you want to get an early night!
Skyler ver Bruggen
On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan
I often try and match my holiday reading to the destination. In visiting Portland and Chesil Beach I pulled out Ian McEwan’s novel of the same name. This short read follows newlyweds Florence and Edward as they’re caught between their feelings for one another and the social mores of the early 1960s. It’s a human driven narrative that successfully jumps between the moment (their wedding night) and the individual stories which led them to this point, painting a vivid picture of both characters.
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, by Steven Pinker
Are you depressed about the state of the world and our future prospects? Here’s an antidote. Stephen Pinker puts together a convincing case that, despite all of the negative headlines we see, things aren’t so bad! Our use of the Enlightenment values of reason, science, and humanism mean that life has in fact been getting better for most people, and, we are actually well placed to tackle humanity’s future challenges. A great read, that feels particularly compelling now, even if Pinker would argue differently…!