It all started with a caterpillar. A very hungry caterpillar…

Our Deputy CEO, Simon Bentley, tells us about his favourite books.

It all started with a caterpillar.  A very hungry caterpillar.  At least, when I think back to my childhood the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle conjures up some fond childhood memories for me.  It is the first book I can remember reading with my parents, or at least my parents reading to me and is the start of my love of reading.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a timeless classic that must have inspired hundreds, maybe thousands, of children to enjoy reading.  Even today, nearly 3 decades later, it is still going strong (we’ll come back to it a little later).

What is many favourite book?  It’s an almost impossible question to answer – there are so many great books!  Books have the power to teach us new things and take us places we may never go.  As Dr Suess says “The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, you more places you will go.”  But, books are more than that.  They have a magical power to open our minds, to open our hearts, to change us forever.  It is through that lens that I plan to answer the question. 

There are many books that have made an indelible mark on me, that have influenced who am I today.  I remember as a teenager reading books like Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Brave New World and Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 with fascination.  Being transported to another place, another time was enthralling.  I suppose there are themes here.  You would probably classify each of these books in the science fiction genre.  And that is definitely a theme for my reading.  I am something of a fan of Tolkein, Pratchett and Phillip K Dick.  More importantly, though, is that they are all dystopian societies plagued by corruption and injustice.

It is the theme of injustice that has always been with me.  That leads me to the classic novel by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird.  Lee deals with challenging subjects, such as prejudice and racial inequality, whilst also presenting a beautifully charming, innocent humorous tale through the eyes of Scout.  In stark contrast to Scout’s innocence is her father Atticus, who is intelligence, brave and most importantly for me, just.  

So, if I had to name one favourite, for it’s beautiful writing and the significance or it’s messages, it would have to be To Kill a Mockingbird

I should end there, but as promised, we shall return to my childhood and the Very Hungry Caterpillar, which has made a return to my life nearly 3 decades later.  It is now a firm favourite and daily read with my daughter Pearl and, I hope, the start of her literary journey.  I hope she’ll grow up a bookworm and take as much learning and pleasure from reading as I have done.  Isn’t that the true power of books?  They are more than the stories they tell, they are the mark they leave on us, the meaning they leave us with and the meaning that carries on through generations.