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by Staff reporter
01 October 2021
Life stories: Michelle Thomson

Life stories: Michelle Thomson

What was your favourite book as a child?  

I was a very precocious reader. I read every single Enid Blyton book I could - that probably says something about the age I am - however, the reason I was precocious was I also read my mother’s university books. 

She went off to university when I was in primary school, studying English literature and history.  So I read some of her books too or attempted to. That had two outcomes: basically, I knew at quite an early age far more than was strictly necessary about the Plantagenets and Tudors of England. And I learned a lot of words that I didn’t know how to pronounce, as I’d never heard them used in context. 

Which fictional character did you most identify with as a child? 

There wasn’t a particular character more it was a type.  She, because it was always a woman, was confident and knew what to do in any circumstance. I suspect she was probably rather jolly hockey sticks, my life in contrast was a bit more complicated.

Is there a book that got you into politics? 

No, there wasn’t. I was arguably always interested in politics or the nature of change in society. Probably the first political book I actually read was Steven Maxwell’s Arguing for Independence: Evidence, Risk and the Wicked Issues.

Which book couldn’t you finish?

I’m still trying to finish The Break-Up of Britain by Tom Nairn. I regard him as a superlative writer and thinker. The reason I’ve struggled to finish it is that I literally read a paragraph and then I check the references and think I’m going to have to think about that a bit more. 
It’s so good. It’s a compliment to him. I’ve been reading it for easily the past year. I will finish it, but it’s going to take me a long time. 

What is your favourite novel and why?

I like fictional novels where the narrative grabs you from the start and the descriptions are good enough to taste in your mouth when you say them out loud. So I like Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things because of that focus on the narrative. The writing is superlative.

Is there a book you would recommend to other MSPs?

I don’t think that there can ever be one book because it always depends but all I would say is, read what you enjoy, and never be ashamed of it. If I were to choose a book it would be one to switch off and relax.

Which book would you be embarrassed about others seeing on your bookshelf during a Zoom call?

I suppose actually the one that people would immediately alight on - and it’s not mine, incidentally - is The Kama Sutra. Because I have the philosophy that you can never get rid of books, it sits there, unused.

Read the most recent article written by Staff reporter - Life Stories: Fiona Hyslop

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