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Waterstone’s Parliamentary Summer Reading Survey

A survey of MPs and Peers conducted on behalf of Waterstone's.

Date Published: 01 Sep 2011

Categories: Business | Consumer | Policy Makers | Politics | UK


Calm Down, it’s only the MPs Summer Reading Survey

MPs have used the annual Waterstone’s and ComRes summer reading survey to offer some pointed advice to the leaders of the three main parties.

Offered a choice of books they would buy the leaders to read this summer, 26% of MPs recommended David Cameron peruse Calm Down: How to Control Frustration and Anger by Paul A Hauck. This was the title most Labour MPs chose for Cameron, wth one commenting “To run a coalition government, he needs to live with frustration and anger.” Given that the Prime Minister has twice this summer had to interrupt a holiday, first because of rioting in England, then because of the situation in Libya, he may feel that whatever is recommended, he’s never get a chance to read it.

Pulling no punches, the book 20% of MPs (and 29% of Tory MPs) would buy Ed Milliband is Leadership for Dummies, by John Marrin. However, Peers suggested perhaps a more helpful title, with 21 of them voting for the classic self-help book How to Win Friends and influence People by Dale Carnegie. 43% of crossbench peers also recommended this title for Nick Clegg.

It is the Lib-Dem leader and Deputy PM that gets the most readable choice. 20% of MPs (and 28% of his own MPs) suggested he read Joseph Heller’s WWII satire, Catch 22. “”It’s a brilliant book and reflects the dilemma the Lib Dems face,” said one. “He’s in the ultimate Catch 22,” said another. 31% of Lib Dem Peers agreed with this choice.

“Nick Clegg should take his colleagues advice on this one,” said Waterstone’s spokesman Jon Howells. “If you need a great book to read on the beach this summer, Catch 22 is a fabulous choice. Heller wrote it after his experiences in WWII, where he was convinced that every time he went into action that people were out to get him. Clegg might feel the same way, but at least Heller will help him laugh about it.”

Asked what books they would read themselves, MPs did not reach a concensus. The most popular title named was Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. “This was the Booker winner in 2009, perhaps next year they will have caught up to the 2010 winner, Howard Jacobson.” 2% named Tony Blair’s A Journey, with 2% also naming Alistair Campbell’s Diaries - both books that one might have expected MPs to have picked up earlier. However, Peers were much more up to date, with 9% nominating Simon Sebag Montefiore’s acclaimed Jerusalem. “A great author, fascinating subject” said one Labour Peer. Another 7% chose the current bestseller The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal.

Biographies proved very popular, with most favouring political stories. Biographical subjects chosen included; William Wilberforce (by William Hague), Margaret Thatcher’s The Path to Power, Franklin Roosevelt (by Conrad Black), Ramsay Macdonald (by David Marquand), and David Lloyd George (by Roy Hattersley). Refreshingly, two MPs showed their rebellious side, choosing Ian Hunter’s classic tale of life of the road with Mott the Hoople, Diary of a Rock and Roll Star, and Rolling Stone Keith Richard’s recent memoir, Life.

ComRes surveyed 152 MPs on the ComRes MPs Panel between 31st May and 24th June 2011 by self-completion postal and online questionnaire. Data were weighted to reflect the exact composition of the House of Commons.

ComRes surveyed 100 Peers on the ComRes Peers Panel between 16th May and 29th June 2011 by self-completion postal questionnaire. Data were weighted to reflect the exact composition of the House of Lords.

ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules ( 


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