"Books that change my life are ones I learn from"

'Books that change my life are ones I learn from'
MaryAnne Pardoe runs book clubs including The Expat Womans's Book Group and reviews books under the handle DubaiReader

By Staff Reporter

Published: Thu 18 Aug 2016, 10:55 PM

Last updated: Fri 19 Aug 2016, 12:58 AM

Name some of the books you are currently reading.
My book group's choices and the books that I receive for review generally shape my reading. I have just finished The One Good Thing by Kevin Alan Milne, an author I had not previously heard of. I loved the premise that someone would try to help others and every time they did, they transferred a stone from one pocket to the other.
I'm also reading The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi, who attended this year's Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. His protagonist is half Saudi, half Filippino, making it quite an interesting read for this region.
Which are the books that shaped your outlook and changed your life?
Books that change my life are generally ones that I have learnt something from. Some would be non-fiction, such as The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee, an escapee from North Korea; others are fiction but with a message, for example, Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain - I had no idea that young American girls from deprived backgrounds were sterilised without their consent as recently as the 1960s.
What books would you pass on to your kids to read and treasure?
This is an easy question - it would have to be Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree and The Adventures of the Wishing Chair. I have already read these books out loud many times and I'm looking forward to sharing them with my grandchildren in a few years' time.
Books you never tire of reading and re-reading?
I don't very often re-read a book as there are so many new and tempting books that I haven't read. However, two books spring to mind - The Red Tent by Anita Diamant and The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.
A book that you believe every person should pick up at least once?
I wasn't sure how to answer this question so I searched back through LibraryThing, where I have recorded every book I've read in the last 17 years. Two books jumped out: firstly, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot - an account of how the cancerous cells of Ms Lacks, known as HeLa, were reproduced endlessly and are still used in countless biological experiments, yet her family knew nothing of this and received no payment. Secondly, Little Princes by Conor Grennan; a true story of Nepalese children, taken from their parents in the mountains to be schooled in Kathmandu. Unfortunately the parents who scraped together the money for this did not know that their children were being starved and put to work. Connor manages to return many of these children to their families.
- As told to staff reporter

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