Who instilled a love of reading in you?
My Mum and Dad. We lived out at Oxford but we’d take trips into Christchurch on the Midland bus and buy condensed classics like David Copperfield and The Last of the Mohicans from Whitcombe and Tombs. I don’t remember learning to read, for me it was like breathing. Later I remember liking illustrated histories particularly the Iliad and Odyssey, the black and white line drawings of spear wielding warriors made quite an impression on me.
What do you read now?
I read very widely. The range of magazines at Central Library Peterborough is superb and I read anything from new technology magazines like Wired to literature and art serials like Takahē. The art books are fantastic and I also enjoy crime fiction like James Lee Burke, Robert Crais and Norwegian author Karin Fossum.
What do you think libraries will be like in the future?
I don’t think books will be lost. The demise of painting has been prophesised several times but people still love and need painting. Likewise I think books will endure, and where there are books there will inevitably be libraries. Books and the imagery they create in your mind are unique, and reading is magical.
What do you like about Christchurch? And what are you looking forward to as the rebuild continues?
I love the libraries, particularly Central Peterborough and Central Manchester, they offer a great range of materials and I come home with at least 8 or 9 serendipitous finds on every visit. Hagely Park is largely unchanged and I enjoy playing tennis there once or twice a week. It is also important to have the Art Gallery back. Van Heiningen chocolates from Ballantynes also make life in Christchurch more pleasant!
I’m looking forward to more variety In Christchurch, retail and recreation that is independent, individual and surprising. Movies are important to me so I’d like more cinemas.
Philip's top books
- The Charterhouse of Parma Stendhal
- Crime and punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Under Western Eyes and The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
- The Skin and Kaputt Curzio Malaparte
- Early Elmore Leonard
- Diaries by George Orwell 1931-1949
- The Great War and Modern Memory Paul Fussell
- The Face of battle John Keegan
- Gravity’s Rainbow Thomas Pynchon