Books that changed my life: Gyles Brandreth

Caroline Hutton

Actor, author and former MP Gyles Brandreth is performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival between August 1 and 26 with his one-man show, Break A Leg!

The Concise Oxford Dictionary

When I went to boarding school aged ten, my parents packed my uniform, a copy of the Bible and a dictionary. I spent my time immersed in the dictionary rather than the Bible and my life rather reflects that. Being a methodical chap I started at A, discovering on the way through that “brandreth” is a substructure of piles of stones and that “yex”—a useful Scrabble word—is a hiccup. Thanks to that dictionary I’m the most prolific person in Dictionary Corner on Countdown and I can avoid repetition on Just a Minute.

 

Memories and Adventures By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

One of the best things about being an MP was using The House of Commons library. During all-night sittings I’d take myself off to the books that weren’t about politics. Here I found Conan Doyle’s autobiography in which he describes meeting Oscar Wilde and their subsequent friendship. Conan Doyle was bowled over by Wilde’s charm and way with words. I thought it all fascinating and began writing The Oscar Wilde Murder Mystery Series in which he and Conan Doyle solve Victorian crimes.

 

The 7 Secrets of Happiness By Gyles Brandreth

Researching and writing this book changed my life. I lost my seat as an MP in 1997 and I took it hard. My best friend had died the year before and soon after my sister and brother both passed away. I’d heard Dr Anthony Clare on Radio 4’s In the Psychiatrists Chair and went to meet him in Dublin. He taught me the unexpected secrets to a contented life.