Sophie Dahl "Books that changed my life"

Reader's Digest Editors

Author Sophie Dahl began her working life as a teenage fashion model, but books and words were her first love

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

My husband [jazz musician Jamie Cullum] introduced me to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy when we were newly dating. I’d just moved back to London, and spent a summer lost in the story of fierce Lyra Belacqua. She’s a brilliant heroine: clever, sparky, funny, loyal and vulnerable. Philip Pullman’s books ring with wisdom and truth. I’m still hooked on his writing; so much so that we named our first daughter Lyra. In a great, full circle, I’m going to be interviewing him for the launch of his new book, The Secret Commonwealth.

 

Love and Trouble by Claire Dederer

Love and Trouble is so insightful about womanhood, sexuality and marriage. It’s also about coming of age in a pre #MeToo era and how that and the responses of adults around Dederer as a young woman shaped her. There’s so much in this book that’s important—conversations around sex and consent, and an adolescent’s right to explore their sexuality and potency without adults thinking that it’s an invitation. I’m so glad that this stuff is now being placed under the microscope and that we’re having the conversation.

 

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken is everything that you could want a good story to be. It’s atmospheric and crawling with villains and adversity! As a kid I had a nerdy thing about secret passages and orphans, and this book is full of both. The heroine in my own children’s book, Madame Badobedah, Mabel, is not an orphan, but there is a secret passage—old habits die hard.

Madame Badobedah by Sophie Dahl, illustrated by Lauren O’Hara, is out now, published by Walker Books


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