Dermot O’Leary on the books that made him laugh, cry and his ultimate comfort read

Dermot O'Leary
Dermot O’Leary

From the books that make him laugh, to the books that make him cry, to the book that left a lasting impression, Michelle Dardis asks author and presenter Dermot O’Leary for his recommended reads….

First book you fell in love with…
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This I file under ‘The one that stayed with me from school’. I love the way the story is told through the voice of young Scout and Atticus Finch is one of the greatest literary characters ever. His compassion and insight made an indelible mark on my younger self.

A book that changed your life…
It would probably Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl because it was the first book that I read independently as a kid. I loved reading after this one.

A book that makes you laugh…
The Moon’s a Balloon is David Niven’s autobiography and it’s wonderful.

A book that is your comfort read…
Anything crime fiction. John Connelly is one of the best writers in this genre. Charlie Parker is this perfect tortured detective, with a touch of the macabre. Think Philip Marlowe meets Steven King. And Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunter.

A book that makes you cry…
Star of the Sea by Joseph O’Connor. I was totally swept up in the lives of the refugees aboard the famine ship of the title. Joseph O’Connor combines letters, newspaper reports and first person narrative to create a moving epic that is first and foremost a brilliant read but also has tremendous emotional resonance for me.

I also read the The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead recently. The ending tears you apart.

A quote from a book you will never forget…
“Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin’ ” from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

A book that left you thinking about it days later…
Into the Raging Sea by Rachel Wade. It’s an incredible examination of the El Faro container ship disaster with exclusive interviews with marine experts and family members of the crew who were lost, and crew voices which were captured on the ship’s data recorder. I love maritime history and stories of human survival and this book is the one of the best I’ve read in ages. Rachel Wade is a brilliant journalist.

An Irish author you admire…
Joseph O’Connor or John Connelly.

A book that should be on every shelf…
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks.

Your favourite character from a book…
Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

A book you listened to on Audible and loved…
Battle of the Atlantic by Jonathan Dimbleby is amazing.

What do you hope readers will gain from reading your new novel?
I’m just honoured when any kid tells me they love Toto the Ninja Cat. It’s humbling when a parent tells me my books got their kid into reading. Toto and her friends have ended up in the Highlands of Scotland for their latest adventure on the trail of the legend of a wildcat. I really hope fans of the series enjoy it.

Toto the Ninja Cat and the Legend of the Wildcat by Dermot O’Leary, illustrated by Nick East, is out now.

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