Five Books website

In: Uncategorized

30 Sep 2010

The Five Books website provides an excellent way to get a quick overview of a subject although its claim to make readers an “instant expert” is obviously ridiculous.

Its standard format is based on interviewing experts on particular subjects by getting them to recommend five key books. They normally recommend one of their own, and no doubt some by their friends too, but at least it gives readers a feel for one perspective on the subject.

Its misleading titled “best books on MDG [Millennium Development Goals]” section includes interviews with promient experts on such subjects as climate justice (Mary Robinson), Hunger (Roger Thurow), Children and the Millennium Development Goals (Richard Jolly), Saving the World (Jonathon Porritt), Saving the World [another one!] (Nicholas Kristof), Changing the world for good (Mia Farrow) and the Millennium Development Goals (Jeffrey Sachs).

It is of course possible to violently disagree with these individuals – as I do with most of them on this topic – while still finding their interviews useful. At a minimum the interviews provides a good basis for debating them (for example, I am debating Porritt in Newcastle on 19 October.

Hopefully Five Books will help individuals to focus their reading on the most useful books avaialable rather than being a replacement for reading books.