You’ve got to take it with a grain of salt — a politician’s self-reporting of what books he is reading is more about image than a reflection of what they are actually reading — but it’s revealing what British members of parliament think will impress the citizenry:
In the annual survey of MPs’ holiday reading, released today by the bookshop chain Waterstone’s, first place was taken by William Hague’s biography of William Wilberforce, which was published to coincide with the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade. It came well ahead of books that received more hype at the time of publication, such as the latest Harry Potter fantasy, or the diaries of Alastair Campbell.
It is perhaps not surprising that Mr Hague should be the top seller among Conservative MPs, but what is less predictable is that the survey showed the same book to be the Liberal Democrat’s top summer read.
A new mood of religious scepticism seems to have taken hold of Labour MPs, who have made The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins, their main choice. This follows the loss of Tony Blair, who looked to God as the ultimate judge of whether it was right to invade Iraq.
I am reminded of Bush’s announcement that he was reading that godless Frenchman, Camus. Now there was a cryptic message to the electorate…I think he was relying on the likelihood that his base wouldn’t have any idea what the The Stranger was about, so he was actually just trying to convince them that he is too a smarty pants. The title The God Delusion doesn’t leave a lot of room for ambiguity, though, and is well-known enough that everyone knows what it’s about.
Maybe some reporter should ask W if he has read any Dawkins lately…
(By the way, the Wilberforce biography is also on my to-read list, although I don’t know that I’ll get to it before the new term slams into my face.)