Getting under the cover with Clarkson

Maybe as well as encouraging boys to read, the “” list will engage more in a career in engineering and specifically the motor industry.  Jeremy Clarkson’s “” is number 4 on the list published by Education Secretary Alan Johnson.


Clarkson’s book, rather than being total fluff, celebrates elegant engineering and design work covering everything from Ferraris to the Hoover Dam. Clarkson delves into the history behind some of his favorite machines, and we would have gladly traded the Car Craft hiding in the leaves of our literature textbooks for Clarkson’s work. As such, we fail to see how presenting history and engineering in an engaging manner is going to harm students.

The £600,000 campaign enables schools to select 20 free titles from a list of 167 books selected for their boy-appeal.

The  laments the lack of Dickens and other classics in favour of more popularist titles.  However, I believe that getting boys (and girls) under the cover of any book is a good step on the road to better literacy.

When I see how few guys are coming into public relations, a career that requires a passion for language, I can only applaud encouraging greater interest in reading – it also shows how role models (like Clarkson – however questionably!) are interested in books, engineering and so forth. 

However, as a persuasive campaign, I think this one is primarily timed as publicity for .  

The good news is that it will undoubtedly result in some increased book sales, but whether the recipients of gifts or a few extra books in the school library will take up the challenge to read more is another matter.  They are, however, more likely to read Clarkson than Dickens or other classics as a first step.

Interestingly, one of my neighbours just came round to ask if I had a copy of Steinbeck’s “” that her son could borrow for his GCSE or did I know where could she get hold of one. 

I suggested the library or any bookshop – but of course he could read the entire book (along with many other classics) at Google.  I’m not sure I’d ever try to read a novel online, and although it must make it easier to search for quotes, the tendency to skim read rather than curl up and get into another world through the author’s eyes isn’t my idea of a good read.

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.