Mary Portas: ‘I’m certainly on my terms now’

This week on Bookshelfie, the Women’s Prize for Fiction podcast, we are joined by author, broadcaster and brand expert, Mary Portas. In this thought-provoking episode Mary Portas and our host Vick Hope talk about the future of ethical business practices in Britain, reconnecting to nature through poetry and the journey to spirituality. Listen to it in full here >


Writing stories that are extravagant and fanciful, fifteen-year-old Angel retreats to a world of romance, escaping the drabness of provincial…

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‘Angel just talked to me and I love the character. What she did was so clever, and I loved it, she created that life. She worked herself into it, it was a path that she opened up by being, and it was a path that she wanted. So she just opened it up herself, created her success through her writing and ended up very wealthy.’

The Death and Life of Great American Cities

The Death and Life of Great American Cities is a 1961 book by writer and activist Jane Jacobs. The book…

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‘I discovered Jane Jacobs and she really just opened my eyes up to what is a fundamental truth, that the way we live and where we live, our cities, our high streets. It’s not about what they sell. It’s not about commerce. It’s about the social infrastructure and safety that they give to our well-being.’

The Cost of Living

What does it mean to be free – as an artist, a woman, a mother or daughter? And what is…

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‘Reading Deborah’s [story], and how she decided to leave a marriage. I had these visions of her struggling up the hill in the rain in North London to this flat that she had, and her change in life as a woman in her 50s. How she had to, you know, bring her daughter with her, her identity as a woman. Now, as a single woman, it just resonated, but she takes these moments that are just so exquisitely described, I can’t do her justice, other than to say, I think she’s a magnificent writer.’

Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

Carefully curated, these 200-plus poems feature Oliver’s work from her very first book of poetry, No Voyage and Other Poems, published…

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‘Mary Oliver, for me, her connection to the earth is just phenomenal […] Her poetry takes me there when I’m not there. And it’s not done in a whimsical poetical [way], it’s raw. It’s really raw.’

The Pocket Pema Chödrön (Shambhala Pocket Classics)

Pema Chödrön, beloved Buddhist nun and best-selling author, offers this treasury of 108 short selections from her more than four…

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‘I just had this realisation that you know, I’ve got the world so wrong on so many levels. And it’s a pocketbook, which I’ve often given to people. Even when I’m out filming […] Because if ever I feel I’m going to that place of anxiety or anger or annoyance or disappointment, I’ll just flip it over. There’s always some little guidance in there. Some beautiful spiritual guidance, that is a truth that gets you back on that path.’

Tune in here to listen to the full episode with Mary Portas.

Want more great inspiring conversations and fantastic book recommendations? Check out our Bookshelfie podcast here.

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.