No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy by Mark Hodkinson

4 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Until he moved house it hadn’t really occurred to him quite how many books that Hodkinson actually owned. Eight boxes of books with around forty per box made 3200. It was actually a little bit more than that, he now knows that he owns 3500 books. He calls it his book cave.

How did he get to that many books though? When he was growing up in Rochdale there was one book in his house, the now rare, Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain. ( I really want to get a copy of this!!!) It was kept on top of a wardrobe with other items of great worth. He was allowed to read it, but it had to be treated with all due reverence and care.

Growing up a working-class lad during the 1970s and 1980s was for most of his peers a book free experience. e liked the same music as they did, but there was something about the magic of the worlds contained in a book that he fell for completely. He was quite unusual in trying to find books in out of way places and came across a lot of characters as he slowly began to read and acquire books.

He said at a careers interview that he wanted to be a writer, the guy asked if he meant journalist, and he said no writer. He suggested Marks & Spencer needed people and to apply there. He didn’t but did pursue a job in journalism. These were the days before the internet so the local paper was still read widely and could offer a career path, and for Hodkinson, this opened up opportunities where he finally became a writer and a publisher.

It is an interesting story of his life and there were parts of it I really liked. There are parts that made me laugh in here and it brought back memories of my time growing up in the same decades. It is not just about books though, it is about his take on life and is full of the happy and sad memories he still carries with him. All the way through the book he punctuates his life story with snapshots of his grandfather and the life that he had. It adds a sad and melancholy note to the book, but it reminds us that he has not always had the easiest path through life working as a rare northern-based publisher. I am not counting my books either…

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3 Comments

  1. Dorothy-Jane Mclachlan-wortley

    Ironically I looked at and considered this last week but was concerned it could be to similar to other books I have read.
    I do agree about the timescale and potential for Sadness.
    Careers Guidance if you thought outside the box was AWFUL in those times…
    I still bear the emotional scars!
    Delighted you enjoyed it.

  2. Liz Dexter

    Sadly, I pretty well know how many books I have, as I have them cataloged on LibraryThing!

    I enjoyed this, too, I reviewed it for Shiny New Books https://shinynewbooks.co.uk/no-one-round-here-reads-tolstoy-memoirs-of-a-working-class-reader-by-mark-hodkinson – I really enjoyed the bits about being an indie publisher.

    • Paul

      Just reading your review now. Ikea CD / DVD racks are great paperback bookcases

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