Aisling Bea: ‘I don’t like saying goodbye to characters’

The Women’s Prize podcast is back for the autumn – and what better way to kick it all off than with a special live episode recorded at Latitude Festival! This week host Vick Hope is joined by the hugely talented comedian, writer and actor Aisling Bea. Aisling knows how to spin a good yarn, whether it’s through her high-energy stand-up routines or channelled into her Bafta-winning comedy drama series This Way Up. So what are the books that Aisling reaches for when she wants to be entertained or inspired – or simply escape from her phone?

Taking a break from dancing in the hot sun, Aisling sat down with Vick in front of a buzzing festival audience to talk about her life through books. Scroll on to discover Aisling’s picks and listen to the conversation in full here

Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body

Sometimes Sara Pascoe confuses herself. She gets wildly and pointlessly jealous. She spends too much time hating her bum. And…

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‘When she wrote this book I called Sarah my unofficial GP … I think a lot of comedians are sort of failed teachers, trying to show a subject matter using comedy and their own lives to make it more accessible. Animal is all about the history of human beings and what makes us tick. And there are so many bits of actual science in it that just blew my mind.’

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race

In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in…

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‘The book talks about guilt doing nothing. And just generally for anyone trying to help – whether it’s another community or another group of people or the friends in your life – feeling guilty, like you’re not doing enough, doesn’t help … and it made me want to engage more in action, and how could I use my platform to help.’

The Green Road

The Green Road

A darkly glinting novel set on Ireland’s Atlantic coast, The Green Road is a story of fracture and family, selfishness…

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‘[Anne Enright] has a darkness in her writing that’s also really funny – I think that’s a very Irish way of writing or talking, being able to use death and darkness alongside comedy.’

The Audacity

From the star of Netflix’s The Duchess and host of ‘Telling Everybody Everything’ “I’ve come to accept that being audacious…

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‘Even though she’s a hard ass, there’s a beautiful softness to her that you get in the book. And it’s not just about being audacious as a woman. It’s about being audacious as anyone, and having the audacity to own your space and be confident. And someone who is unapologetically confident like that I just find really inspiring.’

Sorrow and Bliss

Everyone tells Martha Friel she is clever and beautiful, a brilliant writer who has been loved every day of her…

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‘[Martha] is very, very funny, but seems to upset people without knowing why … I connected to the idea that you can talk about pain through someone funny, and how being sort of “difficult” for want of a word was always Martha’s thing. Only at the end does she realise how loved she is … we can hold on to a narrative about our lives for so long.’

For more of Aisling’s Bookshelfie choices, accompanied by some truly hilarious anecdotes, make sure to listen to the episode in full. Explore the podcast archives for book chat from guests including Katherine Ryan and Sarah Pascoe and hit subscribe to be the first to know when the next episode drops.

The Women's Prize Podcast

Tune into host Vick Hope and a line-up of incredible guests on our weekly podcast full of unmissable book recommendations.