Mr Tottman: The books that have influenced me

13th May 20

Dunottar’s Headmaster discusses his love of reading and how it can improve our connectedness to a wider community by providing insights into the lives of others, inspiring creativity, challenging our thinking and cultivating empathy.

The book I am currently reading

Jo Nesbo’s latest book, The Knife. Jo Nesbo is a bestselling Norwegian crime writer. The Knife is the twelfth-book in a series featuring Harry Hole – a rogue police detective. I am a fan of Nordic noir fiction!

Books that have influenced me

Matthew Syed’s Bounce, Black Box Thinking and The Greatest are all thought-provoking books that have influenced me. As a Headmaster, it is particularly interesting to explore the paradox that in order for our children to succeed at school and in life, they first need to learn how to fail. In order to adapt, thrive and innovate, individuals and institutions need to have the resilience and flexibility to face up to failure, learn important lessons and work creatively to grow. Teamwork is also essential to success and how we interact with others – this is an important ethos for the whole Dunottar community.

Syed’s You are Awesome is a great read for younger pupils.

The last book that made me sad

Anne Holm’s I am David is the remarkable and moving story of David, a twelve year-old boy who has lived his whole life in a concentration camp but has escaped and is racing across Europe in a bid to outrun his enemies. It is a book full of hope and survival against the odds.

The last book that made me laugh

Stretch 29 by Damian Lanigan. He has been a friend of mine for 30 years and some of his writing makes me smile because I know him well.

A book that has changed my mind

The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford brings economics to life by providing some very insightful and different ways of analysing and thinking about the world – some of which I had not previously considered.

My earliest memory of reading

The Ladybird books with my Mum and Dad, quickly followed by Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven.

My favourite genre

I don’t have a favourite genre and prefer to be open-minded towards various different types of literature.

My favourite book/series

I have read all of Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole crime series set in Oslo. Harry Hole is your typical anti-hero who is impossible not to like. The books make great beach/summer holiday reading.

A book everyone should read in their lifetime

Moby Dick. With its instantly recognisable opening line, ‘Call me Ishmael’, Moby Dick is a book that you can come back to again and again.

Books on my reading list

Deep Thinking by Gary Kasparov – I am a keen chess player; Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari and Matthew Syed’s latest book, Rebel Ideas. I am always looking for recommendations!

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