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My life in books

Michael Barratt is head of Adams' Grammar School in Newport, Shropshire

What I'm reading

Parky: My Autobiography

By Michael Parkinson

My father was a great fan of Parky. My father died when I was 18, so I only caught an appreciation for Parky in the last years. But Parky is a real earthy northerner, if that is not a tautology. A grammar-school boy, he came from a similar starting point to me, though from the wrong side of the Pennines. As a head, you are digesting so much information, your reading needs to say "lighten up". My school librarian is magnificent and knows exactly what stuff I like. Before we break up, she will say: "I have what you need, Mr Barratt."

The book I loved as a child

The Dr Who Series

By various authors

As a 10 to 12-year-old, I read the Dr Who series, primarily based on the Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker programmes. I liked the adventure, the characterful Doctor, the fact that he was a wonderful, eccentric, brilliant scientist. There is some leadership in the stories, but I didn't appreciate it at the time. Dr Who came to life on TV, but I found the books more interesting. Reading the books gave more space for your imagination.

Read this before you die

Lord of the Rings

By JRR Tolkien

I read this for the first time when I was 39. Far too late. It was a boys' adventure, and I had stopped being a boy. But, in stressful jobs, occasionally you like to lose yourself in a different world. I was inspired by watching the first film, so then I read all three books. I have since read them again. The characters, the colossal fight for good against evil and the sense of wonder - it is moreish. Stopping at the end of a chapter, thinking "I'll read a bit more, then put the light out", is a false hope.

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