Episode 21

The Mad Skills episode

If you could magically be gifted some 'mad skills'- what would you choose? If you could talk to animals would you want to know what your tortoise is saying about you?

These are just some of the intense questions that Andrea, Ahlam and Annabelle from the Emirates Literature Foundation consider with Flora Rees, Head of Programming at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, as they each discuss books about people, creatures, and even bacteria with a particular set of skills even Liam Neeson would envy.

Books and authors mentioned in this episode:

Everything that Makes us Human by Jay Jayamohan

Flora Rees recommends this non-fiction memoir from children's neurosurgeon Jay Jayamohan which begins with him blasting ACDC in the operating theatre as he does what he does every day - navigates a tiny human brain with a 3D map he conjures in his mind's eye. From the humorous contrast of his music choices to the darker moments of difficult decisions and conversations with parents, these case notes are both inspiring and heart-breaking in equal measure.

Incredible Journeys: Exploring the Wonders of Animal Navigation by David Barrie

From bacteria that are able to recreate the Tokyo train system, to the paths of albatross, ants, bees and more, this book is full of stories of creatures who find their way around the world in a myriad of fascinating ways, and Barrie's observation that we could learn a lot about where we're going from being more engaged in the natural world, than from looking at Google maps.

An Adventurer's Guide to Outer Space by Isabel Thomas

It's hard enough to moonwalk on the dancefloor, but what about an actual moonwalk? Andrea recommends this book suitable for children and adults who want to know the answers to all the best questions like - during a spacewalk how do you scratch your nose if your face is in a helmet? What do you do if you need the toilet? If you want to know more about the rockstar mad skills required to be an astronaut, this is the book for you.

Sridevi: The Eternal Screen Goddess by Satyarth Nayak

The late Bollywood superstar was an icon who grew up on camera, playing the leading lady in the Indian film industry for three generations. The range of her acting talents and the languages she was able to perform in made her a force to be reckoned with. Ahlam talks about this biography by Satyarth Nayak, begun during her lifetime and finished sadly, after her tragic death, and the light it sheds on the rise of an eternal screen goddess.

About us:

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. 

About the Podcast

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The Boundless Book Club
Tune in for fiction and non-fiction recommendations, and great conversations about books and authors from the Emirates Literature Foundation team and special guests.

About your host

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Emirates Literature Foundation

The Emirates Literature Foundation is a non-profit NGO established to change lives for the better by spreading the love of literature. Our flagship event is the annual Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Middle East.