Bookshelf: Dan Tyte

Plastik speaks with Dan Tyte, director at Working Word PR, author and journalist about the books that have stayed with him throughout his life.

Every Boy’s New Handbook – Hamlyn Books

This was a gift from my nan who had great foresight. The world’s a big scary place for a boy yet to hit puberty and there’s lots you need to know to survive: which planets are closest to the sun, how does an engine work, how do you sail a boat? Survival skills. More than that, it’s got things which can help you survive in the playground. Boys like lists too and this is full of them from World Cup Winners (including West Germany, which shows when this was made) to the dimensions of a badminton court and an A-Z of science: ‘Television is a system which sends out moving pictures and sounds.’ This book was just something that I always referred to if my mum was working late. There are recipes: I used to make open toasted sandwiches – a Splott classic. This is made even better by the fact that when I lived in Liverpool and a mate came to stay, I woke up to find him on the sofa with two girls and they seem to have written a note to the both of us in the front cover, ‘18th January 2002 – Happy Birthday Dan.’ Ideal for 8-12 year olds.

Collected Short Stories – Roald Dahl
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A great cardiffian, better known for children’s fiction. This is an anthology of his short stories. They’re just amazing. I bought it when I was travelling. Short, sharp and delicious tales of the unexpected which are full of suspense and make you ghasp at the end. . There’s one called The Great Switcheroo. You’ve got these two suburban couples and the men think they’re a pair of lads. At a cocktail party they decide that it would be great to do a wife swap for the night but kept it a secret from their wives. They work out how to not arouse suspicion. They do that and the next morning one of the wives seems like her life has completely changed because she’s slept with next door’s husband. A moral tale.

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail – Hunter S. Thompson
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This is for the journalistic side of what I do. Hunter S. Thompson on the campaign trail filing a report each week for Rolling Stone. He was following Richard Nixon – a massive nemesis. There’s a time when he goes in the car with Nixon and they find out they’ve both got a big love of baseball so they actually have something to talk about. It’s really great, because he gets in between the lines and blurs things so that you’re not really quite sure what happened. For an election campaign which is now 40 years old, it’s still readable.

Rum Diary – Hunter S. Thompson
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But I couldn’t have the above without this! The Rum Diary which is one of my favourite novels. It spoke a lot to me when I read it because the main character was a writer in his late 20s. He’s drawn in and allured by the money of the island and the people who want to use him for things. He still tries to remain true to his moral compass and do the thing he was trained to do. It resonated with me.

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
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In the 1930s, Carnegie was going around America giving motivational talks about how to get on in life. Then a guy from a publisher went on one of his 14 week courses and it convinced him that this would make a bestselling book – one of the first self-help books, if you don’t include the religious texts. They did a modernised version in the 1980s but this version’s great. It’s got chapters like ‘Fundamental Techniques in Handling People’ and ‘6 Ways to Make People Like You.’ The examples that they use are quite quaint and brilliant.

Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
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I first read this at university because I did an English degree and Prof. David Seed was a Heller expert. At 9am on a Thursday morning, after a big Wednesday night in Liverpool, when I dragged myself to the lecture, this made it all worth it. I suppose if the title of your novel makes it into everyday lexicon then you’ve done your job. He wrote this while working at an ad agency. That’s inspiring to me because I’m working on a novel at the moment while running an agency. It can be done! The language is brilliant and it reflects the futility of the army and the way that they’re doing things.

Confessions of an Advertising Man – David Oglivy
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This is who Don Draper is probably modelled on. He’s mentioned in Mad Men. He built this mythology around himself. He was a Scottish guy and in the beginning he says that it’s a good book for whatever kind of business you’re in. He goes on to say he was a chef in a Parisian kitchen and that a lot of what he learnt came from there… but did he actually work there? At the beginning of the second chapter, he says that 15 years previous, he was an obscure tobacco farmer in Virginia but while writing the book he was head of one of the best advertising agencies in the United States with billings of $55M a year and as his ‘Amish friends have said, it wonders me.’