The Bookclub Series is back, gathering together an eclectic collection of the best books from the second half of 2022. Curated by my bibliophilic husband R.R.M., this winter edit is part of an ongoing series sharing recommendations from our library to your’s. Expect a captivating collection that spans thought-provoking yet bittersweet novels to a deep-dive in economic history and detailed predictions of the upcoming state of geopolitics.
Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century by Helen Thompson
A marvellous read weaving together history, economics and geopolitics, this is one of the defining books to understand the world as it is currently. The key topics covered include geopolitics of energy, the economy since the collapse of the Bretton Woods system and the current politics of individual countries and liberal democracy. While it may not seem like a very linear narrative, it is remarkable how well these disparate themes are bound together.
The Avoidable War by Kevin Rudd
This detailed book by former Australian Prime Minster and the current CEO of the Asia Society is an educative and informative read about the current geopolitical landscape between US and China. Lending an overview of the past relations between the two countries, especially since Kissinger’s discrete visit in 1972 to China, the book discloses Rudd’s fear about a war between America and China, whilst also making predictions about the next two decades of geopolitics, which Rudd feels will be driven by America/China relations.
Lessons by Ian McEwan
One of Britain’s most prolific authors is back with possibly his best book since Atonement. The narrative arch of the novel is vast – from World War II to the present pandemic. Following the life of the flawed protagonist, Roland Baines, the book starts with the Cuban Missile Crisis. The novel tracks his life from the time he is a fourteen year old seduced by his teacher during piano lessons, to his life as a middling person in London, who dabbles in things but achieves nothing of consequence in his life. The world events that transpire during the time in the background are the more interest parts of the novel.
The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka
Every bit worthy of the Booker Prize that it won, this book by Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka, follows the life of a dead war photographer, Maali Almeida, who discovers he is dead, and has seven days (therefore seven moons) to figure out how he died and who killed him. The language is brilliant and casual; and the novel is an education about Sri Lankan history including the terrible Civil War and the atrocities committed there, including by India’s RAW. Witty, bitter, and funny at the same time, this is one of the finest novels of the year.
Less is Lost by Andrew Sean Greer
A fantastic and funny sequel to the Pulitzer winning Less, the novel chronicles the adventures of the gay anti-hero Arthur Less as he travels across the country and the American Midwest following the death of his former lover. Travelling in in a camper van (which he calls Rosina), he is accompanied by a pug dog, Dolly Hilarious, light-hearted and still a fantastic read, and quite possibly better than the original, this is one of the funniest books I’ve read in ages.
Slouching Towards Utopia by J Bradford DeLong
One of the greatest books on economic history ever, this magnificent read traces the arch of a 140 year “long century” of world history from 1870 to 2010. It is an encyclopedia, without the intimidation of one, of world economic history. DeLong goes beyond his scope as a historian though and raises several rhetorical questions. After the massive improvements in standard of living and upliftment from poverty, how did the second half of the twentieth century fail to live up in its ability to free humanity from inequality, climate change and dissatisfaction with the status quo, which he defines as three of the major problems facing the world. The title of the book stems from the inability to march towards this utopia promised, and the premise that we are now slouching towards it.
The Ambuja Story by Narotam Sekhsaria
One of the finest business books of the year, The Ambuja Story is a must-read for every businessman in India to understand how businesses work and flourish in India. It also offers a deeper sense and respect for how a previous generation of entrepreneurs like Sekhsaria built their empires in the 80s through all the challenges of doing business in India, including but not only the onerous License Raj. A well-written book about the author’s transition from a cotton trader to a cement maker and his eventual company sale.
About The Bookclub Series:
Books have always commanded pride of place (and storage!) in our home, with R.R.M.’s passion for reading manifesting in some of our greatest treasures. This series is an extension of his bibliophilic sensibilities, with curated bucket lists to inspire you the next time you’re looking for a good book to get stuck into.