In this second episode of the Boundless Book Club from the Emirates Literature Foundation, you’ll find Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle asking if there is such a thing as a ‘guilty pleasure’ when it comes to reading, and what books they have hidden at the back of the bookshelf.
In this episode:
Love Letters of Great Men, by John C. Kirkland
You might be surprised that a book of letters from Bonaparte, Darwin, Churchill and many other old important dudes would be a source of shame, but Ahlam’s reason for purchasing it from a New York bookstore had more to do with the Sex and the City movie and Carrie Bradshaw than anything else. She also has a great story about two men and their beards.
Confessions of a Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella
Annabelle doesn’t even like shopping but she’s a Shopaholicaholic. Rebecca Bloomwood is a financial journalist up to her eyeballs in debt with a shopping addiction – a simple elegant conflict that has spawned an entire series of books where Rebecca Bloomwood makes terrible decisions and saves the day regardless.
Bridget Jones’ Diary, by Helen Fielding
Should you feel guilty about this one? Annabelle argues no, but includes it because she knows there are those who do. It’s a joy to read about a woman struggling to adult, and Annabelle’s picked out a quote that will speak to any woman in quarantine who has ‘misplaced’ their shaving razor, and one from the author herself on why she thinks Bridget’s antics have continued to be popular since 1996.
Pattern, by Orla Kiely
Coffee table books – we’ve all had at least one laying around at some point. Andrea has several, doesn’t read any of them and feels nothing but joy about the whole situation. Move over guilt, because Andrea’s here with her love of the aesthetically pleasing designs of Irish-born designer Orla Kiely who broke through bland and conceptual 90s fashion with bright and colourful patterns.
Polo, by Jilly Cooper
Rich people on horses, with ridiculous names, involved in over-the-top drama? ‘Yes please!’ says Andrea - horse-riding enthusiast and lover of witty prose. When she looked up the book online she was met with ‘this book is out of stock due to high demand’ – escapism is so in right now.
Babble, by Charles Saatchi
If your boss gave you a book to read that asked questions like what your last meal on death row would be, your curiosity might be piqued. Ahlam’s certainly was. In Babble, art collector and ad exec Charles Saatchi touches on random topics in essays that you can dip in and out of.
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, by Steve Harvey
When he’s not hosting Family Feud, Steve Harvey is giving out relationship advice, in books and film which Ahlam was drawn to in her 20s as she tried to understand the male psyche. Content-wise she’s not too convinced, but it reminds her of a certain time in her life – and whatever we think of them now, all our guilty pleasure books are part of our reading journey.
The Words You Should Know to Sound Smart, by Robert W. Bly
Ahlam has two copies of this book of ‘1200 essential words every sophisticated person should be able to use’ -listen to find out why. If you want to talk about effulgent kwanza festivities, this book is for you.
The Notebook/Dear John/Any Title, by Nicholas Sparks
A diehard fan of The Notebook, and even Dear John, though as you listen you may conclude that it has something to do with the lead actor in the film adaptation, not just the story. Any conversation of guilty pleasures is bound to reach Channing Tatum territory eventually, after all.
Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next?
Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble.
Annabelle Corton is part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake?… She’s not sorry.