Ten books about Leeds to read

If you want to find out more about Leeds, look no further than our essential reading list, full of heart-breaking memoirs, brilliant novels and fascinating histories.

The Damned Utd - David Peace

Back in 1974, eccentric football manager Brian Clough decided to take on the Leeds United job. However, things didn’t go as planned, and he only lasted 44 days. David Peace’s critically acclaimed novel tells the story of Clough’s disastrous weeks at the helm of the club. The book was subsequently adapted into a film starring Michael Sheen.

The Hounding of David Oluwale - Kester Aspden

When the body of David Oluwale was found in the River Aire, nobody thought much of it. However, Oluwale had in fact been the victim of harassment by two Leeds policemen, a fact which was only discovered 18 months after his death. Oluwale’s death became national news, and drew public attention to the way that the black community in Britain was being treated. Exploring the institutionalised racism of the 1960s, Aspden raises important questions about how we view race today.

A Life Like Other People's - Alan Bennett

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Alan Bennett (one of Britain’s best loved playwrights) has kept diaries for decades, but this memoir goes right back to the beginning. Recalling his childhood in Leeds, Bennett reveals his family’s history, including his parents’ marriage, his Grandma Peel and his eccentric aunties. Most moving of all is Bennett’s account of his mother’s struggle with depression and dementia, which he tells with great sensitivity and insight.

How Leeds Changed the World - Mick McCann

This book is far from a list of boring facts – it is an exciting and engaging exploration of Leeds’ long history of innovation. Through scientific discoveries, brilliant inventions and momentous events, Leeds has shaped the world we live in. Expect a lot of laughs as you delve into the weird and wonderful history of this unique city.

Just a Boy - Richard McCann

In this heart-breaking but inspirational memoir, Richard McCann recounts his experiences following the murder of his mother by the Yorkshire Ripper. Aged just five, the loss had a terrible impact on McCann, and on his three sisters. They were passed from house to house, facing violence and sexual abuse at the hands of their ‘carers’. However, when he was at his lowest point, Richard realised that no one but him could change their fates. This is a story of survival and hope in the face of overwhelming odds.

My Best Friend's Girl - Dorothy Koomson

This quirky, witty novel – set in Leeds – centres on two best friends, Kamryn and Adele, whose friendship is torn apart when Adele gets pregnant by Kamryn’s fiancé. Years later, Kamryn discovers that Adele is dying of cancer. Adele begs Kamyrn to adopt her five year old daughter. Despite Adele’s betrayal, how can Kamryn refuse?

The Unforgiven - Rob Bagchi and Paul Rogerson

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This thought-provoking book tells the tale of Don Revie, Leeds United’s legendary manager. In 1961, the club was stuck in the Second Division, but with Revie as manager, Leeds United won two League Championships, the FA Cup and the League Cup in just over a decade. Whether or not you are a fan of the team, it’s still a cracking read – but for any Leeds fan it is an absolute essential.

Nineteen Seventy Four - David Peace

The first in his Red Riding quartet, Nineteen Seventy Four is a haunting and brilliant evocation of Leeds in the 70s. Following the story of Eddie Dunford, crime correspondent for the Yorkshire Post, the novel explores a murky world of sexual obsession and greed. Against a cultural backdrop of the Bay City Rollers, Lord Lucan, and The Exorcist, Dunford investigates the murder of a young girl while battling against the corruption and brutality of city life.

The Story of Leeds - David Thornton

This fascinating book pinpoints the most important events in Leeds’ history, and shows how the city has changed over time. The author, David Thornton, has lived and worked in Leeds for his entire life, and is passionate about local history. From the Harrying of the North in 1069 to the most recent developments, this book is guaranteed to teach you something about Leeds and its remarkable story.

Started Early, Took My Dog - Kate Atkinson

Beginning with a moment of madness in the Merrion Centre, this novel shows how quickly a person’s life can be changed forever. Written with Kate Atkinson’s usual insight and humour, Started Early, Took My Dog tells us that the past is never truly dead and can always come back to haunt you.

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