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Growing up I was always encouraged by my parents to read as much as possible, and I still find it difficult to accept when my own children, particularly my daughter, tell me that reading is boring. I think the first book that I loved and read over and over again was, The Cricket in Times Square, written by George Selden with lovely drawings by Garth Williams. The story is about a Cricket named Chester from Connecticut, who ends up on a New York bound train, and then ends up on the subway and finds himself lost in Times Square station. He then goes on to make friends with a cat called Harry and a mouse called Tucker, after being discovered by a boy called Mario, whose parents run a financially failing newstand. After a couple of mishaps, Mario’s mother wants Chester gone but he saves himself by chirping her favourite song, and it turns out that Chester has a perfect ear for music and can chirp any piece of music or opera after hearing it once. It is a charming story with a fairly sad ending which I won’t go into here.

In my teenage years I did tend to drift away from reading for a bit, distracted as I was by girls and football, and although I did read I tended to stick with non-fiction books on football. So although my next book is a non-fiction book that is about football, it also went on to be made in to a film and a stage play. Fever Pitch, by Nick Hornby is the story of one man’s life told in a series of football matches (mostly Arsenal) and we follow Mr. Hornby on his journey through his parents divorce, his first love, work and career etc, all tied in with the effect that being an obsessive football fan has on all of his relationships and friendships and his career. A riveting read and one that I read in little more than a day, plus it led me back into reading fiction when Nick brought out his next books, High fidelity and About A Boy.

In 2002 I began an English Literature A-level course run in the evenings by my local college, and the first set book we had to read was, Regeneration written in 1991 by Pat Barker. It tells the harrowing stories of injured British officers of World War I, being treated  for shell-shock at Craiglockhart hospital in Scotland. It is based on true accounts and some of the more famous inmates included the war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen although the story is fiction, it is fiction based on fact which is the kind of story I like as it adds authenticity. The book deals with many themes, such as madness, masculinity, homosexuality and the futility of war. The book is the first in a trilogy and it was followed by The Eye in the Door, and The Ghost Road, which won the Booker Prize in 1995.

Now that my love of works of fiction based on fact had begun I had to wait a couple more years to read another one that had an effect on me. That book was The Damned United, by David Peace and tells the story of football manager and self-proclaimed big head, Brian Clough and his brief 44 day tenure as manager of Leeds United. As manager of Derby County, Cloughie was one of the most vocal of all of Leeds United’s critics, and he was never far away from giving out a controversial quote or ten on the subject of Leeds United and their then manager Don Revie. When Revie left to take over the England managers job, the surprise choice of the Leeds United board for their new manager was Brian Clough. This book is fiction and is written totally from the point of view of Brian Clough, it later spawned a film adaptation that was not particularly true to the book and was slated by Clough’s widow, and family.

My last choice is the book that got me interested in a whole new genre, and that is travel writing, The book, Three Men in a Float, tells the story of three guys who one day decide to buy an old second-hand milk float off Ebay and travel across England from Lowestoft to Lands End and the people they meet on the way. The chapters are told from two of the travellers so each chapter is fresh and has a different prospective.

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