My life in books

24th December 2010 at 00:00
John Fairhurst is head of Shenfield High School in Brentwood, Essex, and president of the Association of School and College Leaders

What I'm reading

The New Leaders

By Dan Goldman

This describes leadership styles in a way I relate to. In different situations, you need different management styles. For example, Goldman talks about authoritative leaders, people who know what they are doing and whom others follow because they trust their judgement. The coercive leader bosses people around, but when the fire alarm goes off they don't consult people, they just bark orders. The book underlines how good leaders have to judge a situation and the capacity of the people around them, and adapt their own style accordingly.

The book I loved as a child

Call of the Wild

By Jack London

I read this as a school set book and loved the characterisation of the dogs' despair as they encounter setback after setback, and then their determination to make it through. I should probably read it again some time.

Read this before you die

A Prayer for Owen Meany

By John Irving

This is a fascinating gallop through late 20th-century history. It is set in the context of young Americans and what they went through to avoid service in Vietnam. It is a reminder of what the world was like when I was young, and what it might have been like if I had been born on the other side of the Atlantic and was expected to go to war. Owen Meany is a very bright, very weird individual, beset by emotional problems. His escapades and his stupidity, alongside his pure brilliance, keep the plot running through various twists and turns.

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