This seemingly simple question was provocative and difficult enough to elicit comments from Eurogoblin, Gawain Towler and Nosemonkey, some of the best known Eurobloggers.
The question is relevant, but the replies are far from conclusive, so join the discussion on Cosmetic Uprise if you have ideas.
The question felt intriguing enough, so I fell into the trap as well; stopped for a minute to search my memory and to pick a few favourites from my bookshelf. Obviously, the legal stuff came nowhere near what Mia was looking for. The books had to be of general interest, so I thought about what I had enjoyed reading. Here is my reply:
As others have said, you didn’t ask for much, did you? But you left a back door open, by not explicitly requiring books in English.
It would be hard to describe them as “thrilling” or not trying to “teach”, but here are a few I have enjoyed.
Gerhard Brunn: Die Europäische Einigung von 1945 bis heute (republished by http://www.bpb.de)
Marie-Thérèse Bitsch: Histoire de la construction européenne – De 1945 à nos jours (Editions Complexe)
Bino Olivi & Alessandro Giacone: L’Europe difficile (Folio histoire in French; original in Italian)
Luciano Angelino: Le forme dell’Europa – Spinelli o della federazione (Il melangolo)
The morning after
This following morning an additional book has surfaced in my mind (despite much legal text):
Daniele Pasquinucci: Progetti di Costitutizione Europea – Dall’Assamblea “ad hoc” alla Dichiarazione di Laeken (Edizioni Unicopli)
I then remember that this autobiography is worth reading:
Jean Monnet: Mémoires 1-2 (Le Livre de Poche)
All in all, if not EU the institution, then at least European integration has produced a few memorable books for me. Notably, those mentioned were all written in another language than English.
If I want something inspiring in English, my mind travels to the other shore of the Atlantic: the Declaration of Independence, the Philadelphia Convention, the Constitution of the United States of America, and especially:
James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay: The Federalist Papers (various publishers)
It is hard to beat the Federalist’s mix of vision, courage and wisdom.
P.S. Fondation Robert Schuman – Le centre de recherches sur l’Europe – describes itself in English as: the French think tank on Europe. The Schuman foundation publishes interesting reports and thoughts in French and English. If you haven’t done so, you should subscribe to its newsletter in French, English, Spanish or Polish.