Following on from the #ThisBookClubLive event that took place at Whistles ten days ago, which saw Kate Mosse, interview the remarkable Lionel Shriver, last night the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction joined forces with Grazia Magazine to host #ThisBookClub at London’s Southbank Centre.
An event to celebrate the incredible power of books, an inspiring panel of women made up of chair of the 2015 Baileys Prize judges, Shami Chakrabarti, journalist Polly Vernon, author Aminatta Forna, CEO of Whistles Jane Shepherdson and 2015 judge and broadcaster Grace Dent came together to discuss which novels, written by women had had the biggest impact on their lives.
As a keen and avid reader, I’m always eager to source new book recommendations, particularly from women I hold in such high esteem, The panel were lively and entertaining, and it was interesting to hear the stories behind the books they chose – from Shami going on to become a human rights lawyer after reading To Kill a Mockingbird, to Polly Vernon recommending Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things to friends far and wide, despite having written a scathing review for its predecessor. I’ll end with my favourite quote of the night – this one from co-founder Kate Mosse, who said of the power of books: “Books make people talk; they can change and improve you, but in the end they make our hearts sing.” And never a truer word has been spoken!
For anyone interested in the books chosen by the panelists, I’ve listed them below:
To Kill a Mocking Bird – Harper Lee
The Biography of Eleanor Marx – Rachel Holmes
Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel
The Pursuit of Love – Nancy Mitford
All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes – Maya Angelou
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Union Street – Pat Barker
The Signature of All Things – Elizabeth Gilbert
Lace – Shirley Conran