17 August 2008

Summer reading - the top 10

From: Leader of the Antimediocracy Party
To: all parliamentary candidates

Dear Party members

I attach details of the first ten books on our summer reading list, as selected by the Intellectualisation Committee. Details of the other 128 titles will follow in due course.

We know you will have neither the time nor the inclination this holiday to do more than glance briefly at one or two items on the list. However, we intend to leak the list to the press, and believe it will send a valuable signal to the electorate. As with contemporary university degrees, the point is not to be informed but to appear learned.

For the particularly enthusiastic, I shall be issuing a collection of pithy lines from each work, which can be quoted in interviews etc to convey the impression that you have actually read them. Remember, what counts is not what is really the case, but what the audience can be manipulated* into believing, by use of appropriate cues.

* Please try to use the word ‘nudge’ whenever possible, at least while it is still fashionable.

THE LIST (1 to 10)

1. Sigmund Freud – Civilization and its Discontents

2. Friedrich Nietzsche – Thus Spake Zarathustra (Part One)

3. Arthur Schopenhauer – Essays and Aphorisms

4. Celia Green – Advice to Clever Children

5. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn – One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

6. Jung Chang – Wild Swans

7. Antony Flew – The Politics of Procrustes

8. Erich Fromm – Fear of Freedom

9. George Walden – The New Elites

10. Nick Cohen – Pretty Straight Guys