Books that changed my life: Nick Hewer

Joy Persaud

Nick Hewer is a TV presenter best known for Countdown and The Apprentice. His new book, My Alphabet: A Life from A to Z is out now

If This Is A Man by Primo Levi

This is the most important book I’ve read in the last 25 years—it’s a remarkable short story about a young Italian chemist who’s swept up in the Second World War as a young Jewish man and sent to Auschwitz. The book is about [the author’s] time there and his ability to display extraordinary humanity and forgiveness. These days, when there appears to be a wave of antisemitism flowing through Western and Eastern Europe, every child should read this book as a matter of course. It should be on every curriculum in every school on the continent, really.

 

Dubliners by James Joyce

Dubliners is a book of short stories and one of them is called The Dead. The final paragraph of the final story, which was drummed into us by my English teacher, Tom McIntyre, is an extraordinary piece of writing—and a very emotional piece at that. It’s about a young chap called Michael Furey who died for the love of a woman. He pined away and was buried in this little church in the west of Ireland, with the snow falling. There was a film based on the story, starring Anjelica Huston directed by her father, John Huston—it’s an absolutely classic piece.

 

The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius

Suetonius was a Roman gossip columnist and this book is a pen portrait of 12 Caesars. It’s brilliant; it feels like reading a William Hickey column. Suetonius was a genius—he describes what they looked like, what they spoke like, how they walked, how they dressed, what they did and what they didn’t do. It was written around 400 AD and it’s such amazing, vivid writing.