My life in books

15th April 2011 at 01:00

Chris Ramsey is the headmaster of the King's School in Chester.

What I'm reading

Men from the Boys

By Tony Parsons

Tony Parsons has to be one of the most readable novelists writing today. He hails from a school of slightly blokeish narrators and is good at capturing the vulnerable side of middle-aged professional men. This book charts the end of Harry's story, which began 10 years ago with Man and Boy. It was touching and funny then, and is even more so now - with the added pathos of a mid-life crisis and two eccentric grandfather figures to show Harry what fatherhood could be about.

The book I loved as a child

Three Men on the Bummel

By Jerome K Jerome

As a 13-year-old I thought this book had an odd title (it does) but was much better than the slightly tired and overdone Three Men in a Boat. I loved the confident, self-deprecating style and the genuinely funny set-pieces. The story of the three men climbing a German mountain, grumbling to each other about German efficiency, only to moan even more when they get to the inefficiently unsheltered top, is a classic.

Read this before you die

The Magic Mountain

By Thomas Mann

As a linguist at university I had to read Thomas Mann and it was, to be honest, a bit of a trial. Years later I read it again and realised that nothing I have ever read says more about what it means to be a human being. Hans Castorp is surrounded by mentors, all of whom want to tell him how to live his life. In the end only he can work it out. It would be too corny a book if he did so neatly: instead, he finds himself unsteadily, doubtfully, in thought. A real product of a troubled century.

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