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19 August 2013

What have MPs been reading this summer?

Alan Johnson's childhood memoir, Charles Moore's biography of Thatcher and back issues of the New Statesman.

By George Eaton

Freed from the confines of Westminster, what books have MPs taken to the beach to inspire them this summer? ComRes polls them every year to find out and has published its results today. 

Top of the list is Charles Moore’s biography of Margaret Thatcher (reviewed by David Owen for the NS) followed by Alan Johnson’s childhood memoir This Boy, Andrew Adonis’s account of the hung parliament negotiations, 5 Days in May (which I reviewed – it’s excellent), Jesse Norman’s biography of Edmund Burke (reviewed by John Gray) and David Kynaston’s Modernity Britain (reviewed by Mark Damazer). 

Tory MPs, perhaps unsurprisingly, plumped for Thatcher (their conference will open with a tribute to her), and Burke, while their Labour counterparts took Johnson and Adonis away with them. The Lib Dems, a free-thinking bunch, “expressed no clear choice” but slightly ahead of the rest was Tony Juniper’s What has nature ever done for us? (a reminder that they haven’t forgotten about climate change even if much of the rest of Westminster has). 

Other notable titles which didn’t make it into the top lists include the House of Cards trilogy, The Summons by John Grisham and, happily, back issues of the New Statesman (“Haven’t had enough time to read them for a few months”). Below are the results in full. 

All MPs

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2013

1. Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not For Turning – Charles Moore

2. This Boy: A Memoir of a Childhood – Alan Johnson

3. 5 Days in May: The Coalition and Beyond – Andrew Adonis 

4. Edmund Burke: Philosopher, Politician, Prophet – Jesse Norman

5. Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-1959 – David Kynaston

Conservative MPs

1. Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not For Turning – Charles Moore

2. Edmund Burke: Philosopher, Politician, Prophet – Jesse Norman

3. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn / Defeat into Victory – Sir William Slim / John Bright: Statesman, Orator, Agitator – Bill Cash

Labour MPs

1. This Boy: A Memoir of a Childhood – Alan Johnson

2. 5 Days in May: The Coalition and Beyond – Andrew Adonis 

3. Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-1959 – David Kynaston

Lib Dem MPs

1. What Has Nature Ever Done For Us: How Money Really Does Grow On Trees – Tony Juniper