Podcasts, Recommendations

Elizabeth Day: My Five Favourite Books

Our first guest on Season Three of the Women’s Prize Podcast is Elizabeth Day! Read on for Elizabeth’s five Bookshelfie choices.

Joining our host Yomi Adegoke this week is author, journalist, broadcaster and How to Fail podcast host Elizabeth Day. Elizabeth discusses her childhood in Northern Ireland and her experience of divorce, along with lockdown reading and what’s it’s been like to be one of this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction judges.

Listen to the episode here, or read on for the five books that have most impacted Elizabeth’s life.

The Ordinary Princess

Princess Amethyst Alexandra Araminta Adelaide Aurelia Anne (also known as Princess Amy) doesn’t mind being ordinary- she gets to play…

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‘I just loved it because I was a child who wasn’t very cool. I spent a lot of time in the countryside in scrappy corduroy trousers and was a massive nerd, even then. I spent a lot of time in my imagination. And I didn’t really fit in when I went to secondary school, and especially not in Northern Ireland speaking with an English accent.  Something about Princess Amy being free enough to fulfil the truest expression of herself. In all of her orderliness was a really beautiful thing. I felt very close to that character. ‘

Cazalet Chronicles

Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazalet Chronicles is a thrilling yet charming five-book series of novels that follows the secrets and yearnings…

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‘Elizabeth Jane Howard is a novelist who I think is still extremely underrated. And I think it’s partly because she was writing at a time when women were pigeon-holed as authors of domestic dramas. And she was married for a while to Kingsley Amis, whose career massively overshadowed her own. And for many years, she was basically his kind of domesticated wife who would boil him eggs, and also raise his children, including Martin Amis famously, who credits her with his love of English literature.’

The Weather In The Streets

A chance encounter with the man who enchanted her as a teenager leads Olivia Curtis into to a forbidden love…

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‘When I re-read it, I had been through a divorce, fertility issues and my first miscarriage. I was blown away. Just with the accuracy, and clarity and lyricism of Rosamond Lehmann’s language, it seemed to be speaking directly to me and to my experience, even though I was reading it in the mid 2000s. And so there was something about that I found very compelling.’

Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger

Long before Pantsuit Nation, before the Women’s March, and before the #MeToo movement, women’s anger was not only politically catalytic—but…

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‘I picked it up in an airport, and I was flying back from LA and I read the whole thing on the flight, it was like jet fuel being injected into my veins, it was so extraordinary. It’s a reclamation of women’s anger, which historically has been subsumed or diverted or suppressed or masked by different emotions such as sadness. And it really revolutionised how I thought about my own anger, which for basically my whole life, I think I’ve sort of hidden.’

Their Eyes Were Watching God

When sixteen-year-old Janie is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with…

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‘I was blown away by it. I was blown away by the poetic nature of [Zora Neale Hurston’s] prose, and also the fact that she’s very earthy as well. It’s like a really extraordinary combination, the earthiness and the lyricism together. She writes in dialect, it’s like a kind of full multi-sensory experience to read this book. I’m terrible at remembering plots, even though I only read it a few months ago, but I massively remember feelings that books leave me with. And this was like having the top of my head opened like a can opener.’

Listen to the full conversation on the Women’s Prize for Fiction Podcast here >

And make sure you subscribe as next week Yomi will be joined by your Women’s Prize for Fiction ‘Winner of Winners‘ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

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