AS one quarter of Blur, Alex James is known to many as a rock musician.

But the father-of-five is also the author of autobiographies Bit of a Blur and All Cheeses Great and Small, a cheesemaker and a regular contributor to several national newspapers.

His Kingham farm was also home to the Big Feastival this year and to Harvest Festival last year.

He is the latest celebrity to support for the Oxfordshire Reading Campaign, backed by the Oxford Mail.

ESTHER BROWNING quizzed him about his own love for reading.

Why would you support a drive to get children reading?

All I can say is that it’s my second favourite thing – my favourite thing is re-reading.

l What was your favourite book when you were small and why did you love it?

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory was the big one: It’s just a brilliant story, brilliantly written. Great characters – and great illustrations. I read it again and again.

I loved reading but I guess a lot of the books are out of print now.

There was one called Flat Stanley I really liked.

He got lost and squashed and posted himself back to his family.

The Ashworth Growler was about a car. That was really good.

The Ogre Downstairs was amazing, about a magic chemistry set.

The Pirates and The Deep Blue Sea.

Magnolia Gardens.

Wow, it’s all flooding back now...

Which children’s book moved you the most?

The Wind on the Moon has the most magical atmosphere of any book I’ve read. It’s enchanting.

Moonfleet is quite scary.

Little House in The Big Woods made me want to live on a farm.

Hans Christian Anderson is the all-time grand master though.

Still terrifies me.

Tell me about the books you most enjoy reading now, and what do you think makes them good?

I love the classic storytellers: Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle – voices that still ring loud and clear a hundred years later.

I still read Roald Dahl now.

And Enid Blyton.


Why do you believe it’s important for children to read?

If you’ve got books, you’ve always got somewhere else you can go – it’s like having free access to a beautiful garden.

Why wouldn’t you?

Most of what I know is from books and newspapers.

Where’s your favourite place to read a book?

Definitely at home in bed.