As a first step, let me invite you to take action right here and now. Choose a book you’ve bought but never got round to reading. It could be Moby-Dick or Anna Karenina or The Moon’s a Balloon by David Niven. Before you can think of a single excuse not to read it press the Twitter button below and publicly pledge to start reading that book today.

Please note: If you are not on Twitter, you can make your pledge in person. See the On Tour page for details.

THE YEAR OF READING DANGEROUSLY is the true story of the year I spent reading fifty of the greatest and most famous books in the world, and two by Dan Brown. They were, by and large, all books I had lied about having read. The year was my attempt to make it right and become the person I had pretended to be. It was the best thing I have ever done in my life.

Reading dangerously is about connecting with great books in the real world, the one we actually live in, rather than the classroom or the pages of the London Review of Books. It’s about engaging with books and taking action. And crucially, it’s about telling the truth. It worked for me; I no longer tell lies about books. If a buy a book I read it; if I start a book, I try my best to finish it. But it’s necessary to take steps to make it happen.



June 3rd

After a rousing READ Y’SELF FITTER at the great Bookseller Crow bookshop in Crystal Palace – and thank you to everyone who came along, it was (le mot juste) AMAZING – there are now signed copies of THE YEAR OF READING DANGEROUSLY available to buy via the Bookseller Crow website here. War, children etc.. It’s just a click away.

My event with Stewart Lee at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival on Saturday is now SOLD OUT.

More news to follow regarding new tour dates, reviews etc.. No news to follow regarding Tesco Books.


May 20th

THE YEAR OF READING DANGEROUSLY is now available as an eBook – with exclusive bonus content concerning The Epic of Gilgamesh! – from Sainsbury’s. It is still unavailable to buy from Tesco Books. Sainsbury’s recently recorded a surge in annual pre-tax profits of 16.3%. For the same period, Tesco posted a decline in pre-tax profits of 6%.

You can draw your own conclusions.


May 8th

THE YEAR OF READING DANGEROUSLY: HOW FIFTY GREAT BOOKS SAVED MY LIFE is published today. Reggie Perrin author and hero David Nobbs writes to say: “I loved this book. It’s a must for booklovers – challenging, controversial and very funny.” Short of Douglas Adams rising from the grave to offer his frank admiration, that’s about as good as it gets for me.

I’ll be appearing at the Whitstable Literary Festival this weekend. On Tuesday 13th next week I’ll be delivering READ Y’SELF FITTER at the Radisson Bloomsbury Hotel in London, for Hidden Prologues and Social Book Week. Sam Leith will be there too. And I’ve been invited to take part in the fantastic Wigtown Book Festival in Scotland later in the year, date TBC, which I’m really excited about. See the On Tour page for details.

If you have not already done so, please take the #ReadDangerously Twitter pledge above. It’s a bit of fun.

Thank you for all your good luck messages over the last couple of weeks. It has been a long, slow trek to get to this point and I appreciate every single one of them.

Finally, from today the book is available to buy everywhere – Amazon, Waterstones, your local independent bookseller etc. – but not from Tesco Books. Today is not a day for finger-pointing and recriminations. I’m sure they know their market.


May 6th

The Independent has published an edited version of a thing I wrote about reading and music here. However, you can the read the full, unexpurgated original on the blog right here.

Today’s Tube strike has been suspended, so maybe see you later.


May 5th

The first two reviews of READING DANGEROUSLY were published over the weekend and both were very positive. Christian House at the Telegraph decided the book is “very funny” and described it as “High Fidelity for bookworms”. You can read what he has to say here.

Meanwhile, book blogger Lee Randall has described the book as both “terrific” and “very funny”. Read her excellent review in full here.

Interestingly, in their reviews both Mr House and Ms Randall agree that reading THE YEAR OF READING DANGEROUSLY will leave the reader “enriched”. Please return the favour and enrich the author by buying the book via one of the links on the right. Thanks!

Will Tesco Books be able to stand firm against the tide of critical opinion and continue to pretend the book doesn’t even exist? With a few days left till publication, the answer seems to be ‘yes’.


May 1st

With a week to go until publication, THE YEAR OF READING DANGEROUSLY is available to pre-order everywhere – except Tesco Books, which is still refusing to acknowledge the book’s existence. It’s almost as though they don’t want their customers to read a book about reading great books. Probably just a glitch though.

Michael Bracewell writes: “I have been enjoying THE YEAR OF READING DANGEROUSLY so much. Not only is it wonderfully funny, but it is also a brilliant take on the whole notion of a living literary culture, and what that might actually mean when we get back to the business of reading. I love its directness and sanity.” Thank you Michael. I have forwarded your email to Tesco and will let you know what they say.

New performances of READ Y’SELF FITTER have been added in London on May 13th and at the Latitude Festival on July 18th and 19th. See the On Tour page for details.

In general, I feel a bit sick but I’m sleeping OK.


April 14th

Welcome to, my new home on the Internet. I especially welcome any fans who have landed here by mistake.

My dope new book THE YEAR OF READING DANGEROUSLY: HOW FIFTY GREAT BOOKS (AND TWO NOT-SO-GREAT ONES) SAVED MY LIFE is published in the UK on May 8th and Australia on June 1st by Fourth Estate. It will be published in the USA by Harper Perennial later this year.

The US edition will bravely attempt to squeeze the full subtitle onto the cover. It will also contain an exclusive footnote explaining Croydon for the benefit of American readers.

The book is available to pre-order now at all good booksellers and other places [see right]. At the time of writing, it is not available to pre-order at Tesco Books. Make of that what you will.

You can download a PDF of the opening chapter – The Master and Margarita – just over there on the right and up a bit.

Excerpts from my old blog The List Of Betterment are available to view on the relevant page of this site. These have also been included as an extra appendix in the ebook edition of THE YEAR OF READING DANGEROUSLY.

After a sold-out first night at the Cambridge Literary Festival, READ Y’SELF FITTER – my ten-step program to cure oneself of bad reading habits – will be touring the country this summer. Check the On Tour page for dates. If you think you or your community needs help and would benefit from a staged intervention where a man with a flipchart shouts at you for an hour, please drop me a line via the Contact page.

My first book TILTING AT WINDMILLS: HOW I TRIED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE SPORT should be available through this website later in the year, subject to someone at Penguin being able to recover the files. Otherwise, I’m going to have to type out the whole book all over again and it was hard enough the first time. It might be simpler just to buy up all the 1p copies on Amazon Marketplace and redistribute those for free in exchange for a stamped addressed envelope. I’ll keep you posted.

Finally, thank you for visiting I did get Kate Bush tickets.


The Year of Living Dangerously



Amazon – hardback
Amazon – eBook
Book Depository
Fourth Estate
Guardian Bookshop
Sainsbury’s – eBook
WHSmith – hardback
WHSmith – eBook