Mark Hodkinson grew up among the terrace houses of Rochdale in a house with just one book. His dad kept it on top of a wardrobe with other items of great worth – wedding photographs and Mark’s National Cycling Proficiency certificate. If Mark wanted to read it, he was warned not to crease the pages or slam shut the covers.
Today, Mark is an author, journalist and publisher. He still lives in Rochdale, but is now snugly ensconced (or is that buried?) in a ‘book cave’ surrounded by 3,500 titles – at the last count. No One Round Here Reads Tolstoy is his story of growing up a working-class lad during the 1970s and 1980s. It’s about schools (bad), music (good) and the people (some mad, a few sane), and pre-eminently and profoundly the books and authors (some bad, mostly good) that led the way, and shaped his life. It’s also about a family who just didn’t see the point of reading, and a troubled grandad who, in his own way, taught Mark the power of stories.
In recounting his own life-long love affair with books, Mark also tells the story of how writing and reading has changed over the last five decades, starting with the wave of working-class writers in the 1950s and 60s, where he saw himself reflected in books for the first time.