Alok Sharma MP: 'I'm not cut out to be an all-action figure'

Written by Alok Sharma MP on 3 April 2013 in Culture
The Conservative MP for Reading West on his literary loves, aspirations and shortcomings

This article is from the April 2013 issue of Total Politics

What’s your favourite book?
Nine Stories, a collection of short stories by American fiction writer JD Salinger of Catcher in the Rye fame. I liked the transatlantic quirky style and read it alongside several other Salinger novels during a great summer.
What’s your least favourite?
I remember trying to get through The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway when at school and found it hard going.
What’s your favourite political biography?
One of Us by Hugo Young, which was a pretty balanced biography of Margaret Thatcher. I also really rate Nigel Lawson’s autobiography, The View From Number 11, written by one of the great reforming chancellors of recent times, who understood a thing or two about competitive tax rates.
Whom would you like to write a political biography about?
Indira Gandhi – India’s first, and so far only, female PM.
What was your favourite children’s book?
The Cat in the Hat series of books by the American writer Theodor Seuss Geisel, pen name Dr Seuss, which I loved as a child and have also enjoyed reading with my two daughters.
What’s the most inspiring book you've ever read?
John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath has to be one of the most moving in depicting the dignity of the human spirit in the face of great adversity.
What’s your favourite political novel?
It probably cannot be strictly classed as a political novel, but The Fourth Protocol by Frederick Forsyth has it all: international intrigue, political double-dealing and a potential doomsday scenario ending.
Name the most significant book of the last decade
An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore, released with the hugely engaging documentary of the same title and helped to highlight the pressing issue of climate change.
What would you like to write a book about?
I've been thinking for a while about writing a book about India, where I was born. It is an absolutely fascinating country.   
Which fictional character would you be?
I found The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan enormously entertaining as a child and, in the best British tradition, Richard Hannay was a great accidental hero… although I'm pretty sure I'm not cut out to be an all-action figure.
Alok Sharma is Conservative MP for Reading West

Tags: Alok Sharma MP, Brought to book, Issue 57, Life

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