'Among the wealthy elders, my views gave some offence. Two or three people walked out of my lecture in Hamburg. At a dinner in Oldenburg I was seated next to a senior academic who berated me for my leftist leanings - not what he expected of an Oxford professor...' John Carey, best known for his provocative stance on the arts and the academic establishment, looks back on his journey from an ordinary background to Oxford's oldest literary professorship. Books formed the backbone of his life: from Biggles in his boyhood home to G. K. Chesterton in his West London grammar school to rigorous scholarship on Milton, Donne and many others. In this warm and funny memoir, he remembers a fresh his encounters with the great (and not so great) works of English literature - the rewards, fulfilment and sheer pleasure to be found there.