Lisa Nandy: ‘We could do better, we should do better’

Wigan Labour MP and current Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Lisa Nandy, joins our host Vick Hope on the latest episode of the Women’s Prize for Fiction Podcast to discuss her most eye-opening reads. From Amanda Gorman to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Lisa Nandy details how reading women has shaped her perspective on politics and why she thinks this is the time to shift the British political climate and restore hope in people. You can listen to this inspiring podcast episode here.

Mary Barton

Elizabeth Gaskell’s remarkable first novel, Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life, portrays a love that defies the rigid boundaries of class…

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‘I was reading a lot of literature from that era, at the time, most of it written by men and about men, and often very sort of obsessed with aristocratic life. It was really like a bolt out the blue to see the history of that time told through the ordinary, extraordinary people that really have made up the history of Britain, and particularly through a working-class woman from Manchester as the main character, it was just a whole new take on that era.’

The March of Folly

From the distinguished American historian whose work has been acclaimed around the world, a major new book that penetrates one…

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‘[Tuchman] writes so brilliantly. She makes the stories come to life… The nuance with which she’s able to get across the points that she’s making, she often has a completely different take than anybody else on the things that she’s writing about. There’s something about that ability to see the world as nuanced and complex, but also to draw out those big themes that I think we could do with a bit more of in politics.’

Half of a Yellow Sun – 2007 Winner

Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s haunting novel, originally won the Women’s Prize for Fiction (then the Orange Prize)…

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‘It’s just the writing. I tried to sort of think through all the reasons why I love this book, but she just writes better than anyone around in my view, there’s a sort of poetry to it. It’s beautiful. It’s evocative. The minute you open the book, everything goes away, and you’re there in that world that she’s constructed.’

GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History

Why did the size of the U.S. economy increase by 3 percent on one day in mid-2013–or Ghana’s balloon by…

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‘Her argument is that we need to be smarter about what we measure and how we use measures of success… reading this book was like someone switching a light on, she basically says, look, if what you’re measuring is wrong, it distorts your picture. But if you adjust the lens, the things that most matter, come back into focus.’

The Hill We Climb

“The Hill We Climb” is a spoken word poem written by American poet Amanda Gorman and recited by her at…

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‘I think what Gorman does brilliantly in this poem is she takes all that feeling of hope that something better could be on the horizon. And she lays it out for you. This is the path that could lie ahead. But it may not lie ahead. And she never dresses up the risk that there is to America and to the world, that things could very quickly collapse again into anger and division and chaos and racism.’

To hear more about Lisa Nandy’s Bookshelfie choices, listen to the podcast in full here. You can also purchase her picks on our Bookshop.org shop.

Want more amazing episodes like this one? Be sure to check out our podcast archive with guests like Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and activist Scarlett Curtis. Click that subscribe button to make sure you never miss out on an episode.

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.