Readers Digest
Magazine subscription Podcast
HomeCultureBooksMeet the Author

Meera Syal: Books that have changed my life

Meera Syal: Books that have changed my life

Meera Syal is a writer, comedian, singer, playwright and actress. She was awarded a CBE this year for services to drama and literature. Her new novel The House of Hidden Mothers is published by Doubleday this month.

To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee

To Kill a Mocking Bird

I read this when I was 13, the perfect age to appreciate the big issues it addresses in a brilliantly accessible but emotional way. Atticus Finch shows us the importance of standing up for what’s right, even when no one around you is supportive and you know you’re going to lose. The book gave me guidelines for life, and that’s a very special gift.


Behind the Beautiful Forevers

By Katherine Boo

Behind The Beautiful Forevers

It’s hard to believe this book is true—it reads like a novel but it’s the faithful, unsentimental representation of the three years Boo spent in a Mumbai slum. While the dwellers’ lives are full of drama, the characters are shown to be no different to the rest of us. They have the same desires and ambitions, and make the same mistakes. Boo shows us that we’re all connected. We’re quick to judge how the poor behave, but this book highlights how much harder it is to lead a corrupt-free life when your options are so reduced.


Pride and Prejudice 

by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

There’s so much in Austen’s writing that resonates with Western and Eastern culture. Indeed, when I first read Pride and Prejudice, I thought the characters could be Indian—the way unmarried girls are paraded around and the parental worries about what to do with your daughter when she doesn’t have much of a dowry. Austen was a quietly subversive feminist writer. In Elizabeth Bennett you have a girl who’s too intelligent to play the game, and I really related to that.


*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.

Loading up next...
Stories by email|Subscription
Readers Digest

Launched in 1922, Reader's Digest has built 100 years of trust with a loyal audience and has become the largest circulating magazine in the world

Readers Digest
Reader’s Digest is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK’s magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think that we have not met those standards, please contact 0203 289 0940. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, or if you would like more information about IPSO or the Editors’ Code, contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit