What to read this summer
One summer month has passed, two to go. What can be better than to discover a new book during these hot summer days? Our ambassadors shared their impressions about the books worth reading.
World Order by Henry Kissinger
Written by the former US Secretary of State in Nixon’s and Ford’s administrations. You may relate it to Huntington’s “Clash of Civilisations”, however it addresses the origins of the regional and global orders, their structural and ideological differences and comparison of the systems in 4 different world. The author brings historical examples and links them with today’s conflicts worldwide. Kissinger has been a controversial figure across almost a century now. I believe, being 93 years old, he gives his last shot to impress the reader with his last major essay of all times (over 350 pages). It can be purchased e.g. in Rahvaraamat for about 13-14 EUR. Enjoy!
Doing good better by William MacAskill
An interesting introduction to effective altruism challenging widespread ideas of making the world a better place by means of for example donating to disaster relief or boycotting sweatshops. While to be read with a critical eye, this book will definintely make you think twice about how to invest your limited resources most effectively in the fight against global poverty and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNETvpgdXlAcan check out some of his arguments here:
The Liar by Stephen Fry
British comedian Stephen Fry’s first novel is a witty love letter to English philology and the author’s semi- and pseudo-autobiographical experiences in Britain’s elitist and—if the author, who kindly begins his novel with the line “Not one word of the following is true”, is to be believed—highly homoerotic public schools.
Written in a series of jump-forwards and flashbacks the story follows Adrian Healey, a flamboyant gay intellectual growing up in Thatcherian period England, whose excel in wittiness is only bested by his remarkable ability to deceive. This trait eventually captures the interest of his Cambridge tutor Professor Donald Trefusis, through whom Healey becomes intertwined with a sort of daffy albeit singular Cold War spy adventure.
Fry’s dapper treatment of the English language is certainly the most enjoyable part of this light-hearted fiction filled with juvenile but clever and high-brow but stinging jokes and fables, and this delight is only heightened when the book is listened to narrated by the author himself (audiobook available on Audible, for example). The constant jumps between three different periods in the protagonist’s life can, however, make the story strenuous to follow and, frankly, fail (at times) to keep up the suspense and/or mystery that the author probably intended for these jumps to convey.
Apart from all the churlish (but funny) sexual affections of the protagonist (or the narrator) the novel does also have a deeper theme of questioning what is the meaning of lies, fictions and untruths in the formation of anything that is truly human, and for that I would recommend it not only as light summer reading but serious food for thought for anyone interested in the humanistic sciences.