Growing up I received some great gifts from my parents. The top of the list is a love of reading.

My parents understood that raising a child is a manipulation even if they would never have put it in such tactless terms. At night, before bed, I was read stories by my parents. Great stories, exciting stories, engaging stories. When we were done the book was placed next to my bed with a bookmark. They kept doing this long after most parents would have handed all storytelling responsibility to the television.

As my reading ability improved they gradually withdrew from reading me the stories and although I missed the engagement with them my impatience kicked in and I started to read ahead myself. A love of stories drove me to enjoy the process of reading itself and, to this day, I consume an average of a book a week.

Understanding the world around you without a love of reading must be a painful process. The lesson is: work out what is best for your kids and then manipulate them into enjoying those things, you can give few greater gifts.


Funniest book I have ever read: “Dave Barry’s Guide to Guys” by Dave Barry

Most influential book of my teens: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series

Best original universe: “His Dark Materials” trilogy by Philip Pullman

Best easy-to-read science book: Kluge by Gary Marcus

Author with the gentlest sense of humour: Bill Bryson

Author with the most bizarre sense of humour: Robert Rankin

Author with the most original ideas: Kurt Vonnegut

Author with the best writing style: Terry Pratchett


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