This year's Maidenhead's Big Read started with a fascinating and amusing presentation by The Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP, who talked about the books she loved reading as a child and the ones that capture her imagination now.
It turns our our former Prime Minister is a bit of a fan of crime and thrillers... she loves trying to work out who the killer might be before she reaches the end of the book and firmly believes that "there is nothing like losing yourself in a good book".
Mrs May commented that books give tremendous joy and the ability to learn so much. You can learn all about history when reading Dickens for example; and we should all be proud of the rich literary history we have in our country from the classics such as Emma and Pride & Prejudice, all the way to modern literature from the likes of J.K. Rowling.
Throughout her life she has enjoyed reading the classics and shared with the audience that her most favourite book of all time is Pride & Prejudice. She loved how Jane Austin captured the time period but also the verbal interplay between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. "Elizabeth is a feisty young woman able to match Mr Darcy linguistically and stand her own ground. It inspires me to consider my own use of our fantastic language", she commented.
As a child her most favourite book was The Wool-Pack, a historical novel written and illustrated by Cynthia Harnett. Set in the Cotswolds near Burford, Oxfordshire, The Wool-Pack begins in 1493 when Nicholas Fetterlock, the twelve-year-old son of a rich wool merchant, learns from his father that he is betrothed to Cecily Bradshaw, the daughter of a rich cloth merchant. Nicholas discovers villainy within the guild: swindlers who may ruin his father's business, at least. Nicholas, Cecily, and a friend determine to stop them.
Mrs May is currently reading Mill on the Floss and also takes time to enjoy books about cricket, recipe books and books that teach her new things on a range of topics; obviously interspersed with crime thrillers and the classics!
Mrs May ended by saying "I enjoy reading, it gives me great pleasure. I want to see more young people reading books, don't lose yourself on social media, lose yourself in a good book. Allow yourself to enter a different world that a great book can take you to. Get your imagination fired up, learn from it and be entertained".