Dermot O’Leary: The 6 Books That Shaped My Life

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  • X Factor host and BBC Radio 2 presenter Dermot O’Leary, author of new memoir The Soundtrack to My Life, reveals the books that shaped his life.

    Star of the Sea by Joseph O’Connor
    Set in the time of the Irish famine, this book should be on the school curriculum. I’ve been brought up reading Irish fiction and, for me, this is the best piece of that genre from the past 20 years.

    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    This classic gave me my hero of fiction, Atticus Finch. The small-town lawyer defends an obviously innocent man, 
who gets anything but a fair trial. In doing so he teaches his children, and us, courage, humility, equality and respect.

    Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr
    I love crime novels, and this is the first of Kerr’s about Bernie Gunther – a PI based in 30s Berlin who has to deal in the shady underworld of the city, while the town he loves is going to ruin under the Nazis.

    Every Dead Thing 
(or any of the Charlie Parker novels) by John Connolly
    These novels, set in Maine, follow the exploits of a PI (again!) who’s haunted 
by the murder of his family. They do have a slight chill factor, though, and my dad tells me off for giving them to my mum.

    Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
    If you haven’t read this yet, do so now. 
It’s a beautiful story about love, loss 
and sacrifice that spans generations.

    Twenty Years A-Growing by Maurice O’Sullivan
    In this book, O’Sullivan tells of his first 
20 years growing up in the Blasket Islands, a remote set of islands off the coast of Kerry. It made me fall in love with Ireland.

    The Soundtrack to My Life is out now (£20, Hodder & Stoughton).

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