Aarathi Prasad has a PhD in genetics, has presented numerous documentaries and now writes her own books. These are the books that shaped her life the most. 

The House of the Spirits

by Isabel Allende

The House of Spirits

We moved from the UK when I was small and I grew up in the West Indies. I never felt rooted anywhere, and a lot of my emotional development in those formative years came through books.

This extraordinary novel, about different generations of powerful women, the tragedies they went through and the strength they found to deal with them, captivated me.

I related to the themes of identity; what we inherit and what we make our own. 

 

Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body

by Armand Marie Leroi

Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body

As a science writer myself, this was my biggest influence—a brilliantly written story of people, history, and science.

All varieties of human life are here, from giants to bearded women, conjoined twins to dwarves.

We learn how societies all over the world have viewed our differences—and you find yourself effortlessly reading about things like signalling molecules without feeling you’re taxing your brain. 

 

Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore

by Bettany Hughes

Helen of Troy

By focusing on the “real” Helen, an aristocrat from the Greek Bronze Age, Bettany brings all the other guises of Helen into play.

The politicisation of her character through the ages tells us that, to have been so powerful, she must have been doing something dangerous or wrong.

Having my own daughter has made me feel even more strongly that, in terms of progress, there’s still a long way to go…

 

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