The Daily Mail runs a feature on Fridays called Me and My Books. This week they asked to contribute. Well, it would have been rude not to!




…are you reading now?


I’ve got two on the go. I haven’t read a novel in years, but a few weeks ago I interviewed the author John O’Farrell for my Iain Dale All Talk podcast and we discussed his new book FAMILY POLITICS. It intrigued me so I thought I’d give it a go. It’s all about two left wing, wokey parents whose son returns home from university and warns them he needs to tell them something. They assume he’s going to come out as gay. But it’s far worse than that. He comes out as a Conservative. Imagine. The rest of the book revolves around how they all come to terms with this revelation. Any family rent asunder by Brexit will recognise what they went through. I’m also reading CHARLES III by Robert Hardman, which is the best book you will ever read about our new king.


…would you take to a desert island?


It would need to be a long one, so I am going to cheat and take the three volumes of Chips Channon’s Diaries, edited magnificently by Simon Heffer. They’re each more than 1,000 words long, so I wouldn’t mind if it took a long time to rescue me.


…first gave you the reading bug?


In my childhood it would definitely have been Enid Blyton, and in particular The MAGIC FARAWAY TREE and her children’s detective stories. For some reason THE SECRET OF SPIGGY HOLES sticks in my mind. I then graduated on to WATERSHIP DOWN and THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE W3ARDROBE. Even now I can remember that book sending of flights of incredible imaginary fancy, in the same way Jarry Potter did the same for later generations. In my teenage years I became hooked on the horror novels by James Herbert like THE RATS, LAIR and THE FOG. They basically gave me my sex education. Utter filth. Few can ever forget the gym seen in THE FOG. I never have!


…left you cold?


Anything vaguely literary leaves me cold. All the books I know I ought to read, I just can’t be doing with. Shakespeare, Austen, the Brontes, Dickens. Nope. I’ve never completed a single book by any of our greatest writers. I tend to concentrate on reading political biographies. But my greatest love are political diaries. I’ve read (and published four of) Alastair Campbell’s eight volumes, as well as devouring Gyles Brandreth’s. I also devour football autobiographies, as long as they haven’t been ghosted. I don’t actually get much time to read books for pleasure as I need to read a lot for my job on the radio and as research for books I am writing. I’m currently writing a short biography of Margaret Thatcher to be published next year, so I’m deep in many of the 76 books in my collection about the life of the Iron Lady.


Iain Dale’s latest books are Kings & Queens – 1200 Years of the English & British Monarchy, and British General Election Campaigns 1830-2019: The 50 General Elections that Shaped Our Modern Politics. In September his new book The Dictators will be publshed in September.