This article is from the November 2012 issue of Total Politics
What’s your favourite book?
I have two – Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks and For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. Both are brilliantly written tales of love in a time of historic events, which show graphically how terrible war is. I’ve read both books many times – they’re old friends.
What’s your least-favourite?
Any book that puts people down.
Your favourite political biography?
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Although it’s written in novel format and won the Man Booker Prize, Mantel’s study of Thomas Cromwell, the soldier/ adviser to Henry VIII, is a mesmerising tale, and the ultimate description of a major play for power and influence.
Whom would you like to write a political biography about?
John F Kennedy – iconic leader, and an amazing struggle for power.
What was your favourite children’s book?
Anything by Dick Francis. I was mesmerised from an early age by every word of this former jockey – I’m an amateur jockey myself. I could ride before I walked and long before I could read, so they were the first novels I adored.
What’s the most inspiring book you have ever read?
To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee’s Atticus Finch, the persuasive white lawyer defending an innocent black man in a tough part of the South, was my hero. He was the reason I became a barrister. It is also an incredible tale of the Deep South.
What’s your favourite political novel?
Alan Clark’s Diaries are not novels, as such, but they read like one. His tales of intrigue, bad behaviour and the downfall of Thatcher are a gripping read. Parliament has changed a lot since his time.
Name the most significant book in the last 10 years.
The Harry Potter series has transformed children’s reading in this and hundreds of other countries. It’s done more for literacy and books than any government effort could ever do.
What would you write a book about?
I hope I’ve written it. This last year, I’ve laboured over a book called Doing Time. As an MP, a former criminal prosecutor and lawyer for victim support, it’s my study of the state of prisons today and how to reform them. It was launched during the Birmingham Conservative Party Conference.
Which fictional character would you be?
Every man wants to be James Bond, and I’m no different. I would be 007 every day.
Guy Opperman is MP for Hexham