In this episode of the Boundless Book Club from the Emirates Literature Foundation, you’ll find Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle talking about self-help – its popularity as a genre, and if it is something you can find on their own bookshelves.
Books and authors mentioned in this episode:
How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, Or Job, by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith
Andrea wishes she’d found this book years ago and now finds herself nodding along to advice she’s since learned to be true and ‘hold-back’ traits of which she’s possibly still guilty. Do we have to be less polite to get that promotion? It’s all in the podcast, along with Andrea’s main point that despite bringing a self-help book to the self-help party, fiction is still the best way to understand yourself and the world around you.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k, by Mark Manson
Intrigued by stories of successful people bouncing back from failure, Annabelle was one of many people who spotted footballer Mo Salah reading this after a World Cup failure. Not a regular self-help reader, she makes an exception for this book because of what is has to say about life giving you lemons, and explains why she thinks the genre is so often hit-or-miss.
Reasons to Stay Alive, by Matt Haig
Ahlam’s first book off the shelf is Matt Haig’s memoir and self-help book based on his experience of living with depression and anxiety. She found it helpful as a tool for anyone going through mental illness themselves, but also as a tool for family and friends to understand what someone with a mental illness goes through.
A Monk’s Guide to Happiness, by Gelong Thubten
Ahlam takes us on a journey to happiness by way of Buddhist monk Gelong Thubten’s DIY guide on how to be happier featuring practical tips and guided meditations. Since reading the book she’s also been inspired to join a guided meditation course while in lockdown – she tells us what people often get wrong about meditation and why the book is useful to anyone, particularly now.
The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin
Annabelle joins Andrea in the ‘well, fiction is the best form of self-help, really’ camp. It is a lovely camping spot with books like The Novel Cure to guide you. It really does what it says on the tin: What ails you? Are you anxious? Not sure what to read next? Living with a terminal illness? Hungry? Whatever your ailment or mood or concern, there’s a book recommendation to enlighten and heal you.
Conditions of Love: The Philosophy of Intimacy by John Armstrong
Andrea is then inspired to recommend this meditation on intimacy which asks ‘what is it to love another person?’ featuring observations on humanity and quotes from literature.
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.