My shelfie… Dr George Sik
The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin
I first read this when I was 11, and it’s no exaggeration to say that my fascination with psychology and especially personality springs from this book. While comic (I read it before I watched the series and it’s darker and more nuanced), it is never that far from tragedy, and I enjoy books which present both as sides of the same coin. Although I now live in Surrey, part of me is still affected by this every time I take a train to London to meet a client! Years later, I met author David Nobbs and told him how much it had meant to me – a memorable moment.
Five Little Pigs
I’m a sucker for a detective novel, and Dame Agatha was the Queen of the Golden Age. Her plots have never been bettered, though it’s often said she was less good at characterisation. While perhaps a little dated and naive, her later books in particular did try to include liberal doses of psychology.
Many footballers’ autobiographies could have been written by a computer, but this is not one of them. Barton’s career has been full of controversy, but he writes with honesty and thorough self-examination. You feel that you’ve walked a mile in his shoes, and perhaps it will change your view of the man.
This Is Going to Hurt
This recent bestseller is a stark, eye-opening but never less than hilarious account of what it’s really like to be a junior doctor in today’s NHS, the perfect antidote to those Carry On films and safe, droll Richard Gordon adaptations. It can be very sad, but the dark humour is always there, and it was so well received that it even got the author an audience with Jeremy Hunt.
Black Sheep: The Hidden Benefits of Being Bad
It’s not often that a psychology book makes genuinely enjoyable reading but this is one to relish. Stephens brings us fascinating research – much of which I had not previously encountered – on the naughtiest of human pursuits and finds that, at times, they might not be quite so bad for us after all. This is just the book to buy for a prudish relative as a present.
Everyone knows the basics of the story but the novel that started it all is a revelation (Shelley was a teenager when she wrote it!), full of musings on alienation, attempts at belonging and questions about our collective destinies. ‘Monster’ seems the wrong word for The Creature – in many ways, he is as much a misunderstood teen as Holden Caulfield. A recent stage production at the Royal Exchange in Manchester came closer to the spirit of the book than anything I’ve seen before (though I’ve always loved Mel Brooks’s take on the tale).
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
This was where I first ‘got’ Harry Potter: as funny as it is gripping, with oodles of psychology thrown in almost subliminally. The seasoned psychometrician might ponder Harry’s concern that he has been put into the wrong house (a critique of type theories, obviously) and Dumbledore’s comment that ‘it is our choices that make us what we are’ (a wholehearted endorsement of ipsative scaling).
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