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My life in books: Dara McAnulty


Dara McAnulty. Picture by Elaine Hill

Dara McAnulty. Picture by Elaine Hill

Dara McAnulty. Picture by Elaine Hill

Dara McAnulty is the teenage author of Diary of a Young Naturalist (Little Toller Books), which explores his deep relationship with nature alongside his campaigning work and the everyday challenges and joys of being autistic. It was a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, was longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction, shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year and won Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year, the Hay Festival Book of the Year and The Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing 2020. He is currently writing a nature book for children and working on his next book for adults.

The books on your bedside

Right now, it's Troy by Stephen Fry, Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Life and Times of Hercule Poirot by Mark Aldridge. The Lost Spells by Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane and two constants - Opened Ground and Death of a Naturalist by Seamus Heaney

The first book you remember

The Big Bang by Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest - I was obsessed with the beginning of things as a very small child.

Your book of the year

The Secret Commonwealth: Vol 2 of The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman. A universe in a book.

Your favourite literary character

Hercules Poirot

The worst book you've ever read

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I'm always very honest but some questions are best left unanswered!

The book that changed your life

I have to say The Eyewitness series of non-fiction books. They were all in my school library and I read every one, many times - they opened up a repository of knowledge to me.

The book you couldn't finish

I've finished every book I've read!

Your Covid comfort read

Anything by Agatha Christie and Lord of The Rings - which I reread over the summer (for the third time).

The book you give as a present

I think it definitely depends on the person and sometimes when we give books as presents because we love them, then it can be a bit of a burden to the receiver.

The writer who shaped you

Seamus Heaney. I think about his words most days. I'm still very young though with hopefully, a long writing life ahead of me and a world of authors to discover.

The book you would most like to be remembered for

Well, I've only published one in the 16 years I've been on this planet - but in all honesty, legacy is about so much more than the work you create; it's how you treat people, how kind and compassionate you are.

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