BOOKS: The book that shook ... Tim Waterstone

BOOKS: The book that shook ... Tim Waterstone - 'I read in earnest as a teenager, encouraged by a superb English teacher.

by TIM WATERSTONE, chairman of the HMV Media Group
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

'I read in earnest as a teenager, encouraged by a superb English teacher.

John Steinbeck to start with, most memorably The Grapes of Wrath, then DH Lawrence. I recall my teacher making me realise that good fiction meant something well beyond the strictly narrative when she showed me Odour of Chrysanthemums.

After Lawrence, two Dickens novels, Oliver Twist and Pickwick Papers, then on to the Russians - Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and Tolstoy's Anna Karenin. This was intermingled with 20th-century poetry with particular emphasis on the First World War poets.

All this must have had some connection to a formal curriculum, though it didn't feel like it. What it did feel like was a casual, joyful masterclass in how to respond to literature. I've been hooked ever since. That's how and why Waterstone's came to life.

Which of these meant most to me? Perhaps Anna Karenin, though the Lawrence short story would run it close. I'm re-reading Tolstoy now and War and Peace for the first time.'

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