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Turning Over the Pebbles

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781408715970

Price: £12.99

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‘If you carry on like this, you’ll do nothing but play football and cricket all your life.’

These were the exasperated words of Mike Brearley’s mother, as he once again trod mud into the family home after a long day playing outdoors. They were also an unwitting but half-accurate prediction, for Brearley would become one of the most successful sportsmen of his generation by playing cricket for Cambridge, Middlesex and then becoming one of England’s finest captains. But for Brearley, cricket wasn’t just a physical activity, it was also an intellectual game, offering the chance to bring closer together body and mind. When his cricketing career came to end – during his playing days he had had a hiatus as a philosophy lecturer – he eschewed sporting commentary for a career as a psychoanalyst.

In Turning Over the Pebbles, which he calls a ‘memoir of the mind’, Brearley reviews his life with its attendant emotions, tensions and moves. It is also a book of his second thoughts and reassessments, allowing him to understand more fully things that were obscure to him earlier. After all, he says, ‘captaining ourselves, like captaining a team, requires a willingness to allow thoughts and feelings their space’.

Deeply thoughtful, erudite and elegantly framed, this book seamlessly blends all aspects of Brearley’s life into a single integrated narrative. With wide-ranging meditations on sport, philosophy, literature, religion, leadership, psychoanalysis, music and more, Brearley delves into his private passions and candidly examines the various shifts, conflicts and triumphs of his extraordinary life and career, both on and off the field.


A beautifully crafted journey into the mind of a genius - both cricketing and otherwise
City AM
Exceptionally carefully thought-through and most intriguingly written . . . This is a truly lovely book
Unexpected rewards to the reader on every page
Simon Barnes, The Cricketer
A Masterclass . . . [A] stimulating memoir . . . It is hard to think of any other sportsman - or come to it, any other philosopher or analyst - who makes for such agreeable, such stimulating , such warm, company
Daily Telegraph
Turning Over the Pebbles sparkles with erudition and culture . . . rewarding and eye-opening
An enthralling memoir from the cricketing great
i Newspaper
Whether discussing philosophy, psychoanalysis, literature or cricket . . . Brearley is compelling company
This sharp memoir glides across [Brearley's] interests, featuring musings on ageing, music and strategy in sport. It's the ideal accompaniment to the Ashes.
The Times
Brearley's prose is abundantly stylish
Absolutely riveting
Amol Rajan, BBC Radio 4 Today
A superb book - much more than a traditional memoir . . . this is a sharp, witty and unashamedly learned meditation on art and music, literature and the Classics, philosophy, psychoanalysis, childhood and old age, families and feelings, illness and the imminence of death . . . And of course cricket. It is unlike any book you will read this year . . . This book is an inspiration, showing us how to live our best lives
Sunday Times
Peppered with reflections on music, literature, philosophy and exchanges with legendary thinkers, it is as much if not more a book on the mind and a manual on the essence of a good life - and a good death; it will make readers pause
Financial Times
A thoughtful and intriguing book
Methodist Recorder
Sunday Times 'Book of the Week'