England & Wales, Scotland Culture, sport and tourism

LocalGov Reads

It’s August, marking the end of the traditional time of things slowing down a bit in Scottish local government. Many councillors and officers have taken a bit of time off to recharge their batteries and take stock.

Whether travelling abroad, visiting the wonderful treasures in these Isles or enjoying a staycation close to home, many people enjoy reading a good book or two on a break from work. Sometimes the books don’t seem like a complete break – sometimes they are related to the very issues that we deal with at work, but seeking inspiration

At LGiU, we’re no different. Our summer reading list is a mix of business and pleasure.

Ingrid: I’m reading A Tale of Two Cities – which sounds like it could be a book about local government. When I finish that I’ll be reading Hillbilly Elegy – it’s a book about what’s happening socially and politically in the American rural south and rust belt. I’ve heard good things about this book, and it’s written by J.D. Vance, someone who like me has roots in the area.

Jen: I’m reading The Globalisation Paradox by Dani Rodrik, which argues that there is an unavoidable tension between globalisation, national self-determination and democracy. Pushing back against the prevailing economic ideology that deregulation is necessary to ease global trade, he demonstrates that a solid regulatory regime and a healthy social safety net are essential to reduce the ‘transaction costs’ of trading in other countries. We are already seeing these tensions play out as people across the world lose their jobs to AI and machines, and in the increasingly protectionist outlook among people in the developed world.

Andrew: I’m writing up my thesis now, so apart from the books I need for that I’m reading A Confederacy of Dunces, the posthumously published picaresque novel by John Kennedy Toole set in New Orleans.

Jonathan:  For work How Democracy Ends by David Runciman, How Democracies Die by Levitsky and Ziblatt and The People vs Democracy by Yascha Mounk  We discussed these book on the recent podcast in more detail, but since LGiU is all about the strengthening of democracy, we need to understand the way in which it is under strain. For pleasure I’m reading The Lost Child by Elena Ferrante and Borges’ short stories

Hannah: This summer I read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress –  although it’s set predominantly on the moon, it’s less space opera and more an exploration of revolutionary theory where the character you’re most rooting for is a supercomputer that’s developed humour. The book actually opens with a sentence about a moon-based city council taxing public food vendors, so there’s a bit of #LocalGov for you in there too.

Isla: I’m currently reading Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall, highlighting how the natural geography of the world affects its political development and the importance of geopolitics. Although on a much larger scale, this could definitely be applied to local government and why cities develop where they do – for example, in Scotland the population base is in the fertile lowlands rather than the mountainous highlands! I have also read Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge – which I think is particularly important for any white person in the UK to read.

Kim: I am reading Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey for work related thinking, and also Munich by Robert Harris – fiction, but it has echoes for today’s politics.

Tell us what you’re reading

This summer – tell us what you’re reading. Better yet send us a picture of the book, and you reading it, maybe even in front of a gorgeous town hall in an exotic locale. Leave a comment here, tweet to us on @LGiUScotland with the hashtag #LocalGovReads or drop us a line at info@lgiu.org  At the end of the summer we’ll share a list of the best of what local government is reading.