"Stories provide life-changing perspectives"
Ambreen Shafi, founder and creative director of special events organisers once Upon a Table.
Which book(s) are you reading at the moment?
I am currently reading a fascinating book called Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami. The book tells us the story of a young man haunted by a great loss, and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present, which eventually helps him understand why his life derailed years ago.
What are the books that changed your life and shaped your outlook?
There are too many to count, but if I had to choose one it would be One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, because it is a rich and brilliant chronicle of life, and explores the universal themes of the variety of life, the endlessness of death, and the search for peace and truth.
It is noble, ridiculous and beautiful in equal measure, and one sees love and lust, war and revolution, riches and poverty, youth and senility - all through the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo.
Which titles or authors can you pick up and read at any time?
I have many favourites, but if I had to pick, it would be The Stranger by Albert Camus, because it appeals to the existentialist in me. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte would be on the list because it taught me to be socially critical. And, of course, anything by Barbara Vine (under the pen name of Ruth Rendell) because she is one of the greatest storytellers of our time.
What books would you love to pass on to your children or any young person to read and treasure?
It think it would have to be the Harry Potter series. It teaches us that "happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light" (as Dumbledore says in The Prisoner of Azkaban).
Why are book still relevant today?
I believe that stories can provide life-changing perspectives. As Abraham Lincoln put it, "A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others".
- Staff reporter