These are the books that should be on your reading list
Ahead of this month’s Emirates Festival of Literature, a clutch of leading authors share what books should be on your reading list.
Author of: ‘The silk roads: A new history of the world’
THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS: ‘ The Shrines of the ‘Alids in Medieval Syria ’ by Stephennie Mulder. This is a fresh, invigorating and refreshing look at a series of important topics, from cultural and political tolerance to the vibrancy of economic exchange. We sometimes think that today’s world is more complicated than the past; this book reminds us that is was not.
THE BOOK I HAVE READ THE MOST IS: ‘ The Alexiad ’ by the Byzantine imperial princess Anna Komnene. I studied this text inside out when I was doing my PhD many years ago, and it taught me how to always remember to read between the lines – to work out what a brilliant, intelligent author is trying to do; and then try to keep up! I suppose her modern equivalent would be a brain-teaser app on your phone.
Author of: ‘Butterfly on a Pin: A memoir of love, despair and reinvention’
THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS: ‘ No Friend But the Mountains ’ by Behrouz Boochani It’s a very brave book written by a Kurdish refugee on an illegal iPhone, while he was trapped on Manus Island. His powerful words were translated into a book by Omid Toﬁ ghian, but you can read his cries, his sorrows and lament all written with a ﬁerce urgency.
THE BOOK I HAVE READ THE MOST IS: ‘ The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald ’ I love the way F. Scott writes about the lost era — it’s so vivid and so beautiful. I don’t usually like the short story format, but he has mastered the art, and made them timeless, charming and very deep. The ‘Glass cut bowl’ is one of the saddest stories I have ever read.
Author of: ‘Gene Eating’
THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS: ‘ Thinking, Fast and Slow ’ by Daniel Kahneman As a neuroscientist and a geneticist, I was fascinated by how little control we have over the way our brain responds to the environment and the situation around us. It is also a surprisingly good read from someone with a Nobel Prize in Economics.
THE BOOK I HAVE READ THE MOST IS: The ‘Mars Series’ by Kim Stanley Robinson Don’t judge me! I’ve read the whole trilogy probably ﬁ ve times now. It is a ‘future history’ about the colonisation of Mars. It has an optimistic outlook for where we will end up as a species.
Author of: ‘Awkward: The science of why we’re socially awkward and why that’s awesome’
THE LAST BOOK I READ WAS: ‘ How to Fall in Love with Anyone ’ by Mandy Len Cantron Most relationship books adopt a self-help, “ﬁnd love in ﬁve steps” approach, but Cantron’s beautiful collection of personal essays provide a refreshingly nuanced and patient approach to the complexities of love. Her sincerity and vulnerability about her relationship disappointments, hopes, and everything in between, reassures readers that even experts ﬁnd relationships to be messy, misshapen, marvelous, and sometimes a confusing mixture of all of the above.
THE BOOK I HAVE READ THE MOST IS: ‘ The Way to Cook ’ by Julia Child I ﬁnd the book reads like a great non-ﬁ ction book, rather than a set of recipes. What I love about Child’s approach is her methodical perspective. Instead of teaching you speciﬁ c recipes, she teaches you cooking techniques that will help you unlock all kinds of culinary possibilities.
The Emirates Festival of Literature, InterContinental, Dubai Festival City, Dubai. March 1 to 9. emirateslitfest.com