These are the books every woman needs to be reading, according to Pandora Sykes

Written by Amy Beecham

In this new episode of the Stylist Live Sessions podcast, author and podcaster Pandora Sykes shared the struggle of getting through her giant reading list, and the books every woman needs on her bedside table.

When it comes to cultural recommendations, if Pandora Sykes talks, we listen. As a judge of the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2022 and host of the dearly departed The High Low podcast, she knows a thing or two about what is worth our attention. And so, when it came to her appearance on the Stylist Live Sessions podcast (which was recorded via the Stylist Live 2022 stage on Friday 11 November), it’s hardly surprising that we all took out our phones and jotted down every single recommendation she gave.

Pandora Sykes on stage at Stylist Live 2022

From the works of Enid Blyton to Jilly Cooper, Sykes also shared the titles that influenced her throughout her childhood, adolescence and adulthood and altered her way of thinking.

Cooper, she said, was her “comfort author”, alongside Marian Keyes. “We Need To Talk About Kevin (by Lionel Shriver) was another book that really had an impression on me,” she told the audience. “It just stayed with me. As did The Unbearable Lightness Of Being (by Milan Kundera), which was the first bit of philosophy that I had read. And then One Day by David Nicholls, which is just a perfect example of a book that’s written beautifully but is hugely commercially successful.”

Her “to-read” list, however, includes Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove and Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain. “I have around 10 books on my bedside table that I’m currently reading and 10 on the radiator in my bedroom that are next,” she said. “Then outside my bedroom is another shelf with 10 more. It’s like a triage.”

Listen to Pandora Sykeson the Stylist Live Sessions podcast below:

Sykes also shared with the crowd that reading was a love that began in childhood. “I was one of those people that was loud when I was around others, but also needed a lot of time on my own,” she explained.

“What I loved about books was that I could feel safe and restored. When you listen to a podcast or watch TV, your mind can wander. But with a book, you have to be fully immersed in someone else’s story and that’s what I love. Being outside of yourself.”

Pandora Sykes on the books that changed our lives

As for a 2022 book that everyone should read? Sykes recommend Tomorrow, Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. “It’s about two teenagers who meet in a hospital and are obsessed with gaming and build an incredible company together,” she explained. “I’m not into gaming at all but it did the most amazing job of taking you into this world and showing the kind of unity and compassion that is really, really unique.”

But for fans of Sykes’ work, there is plenty more to look forward to. She shared the exciting news of the launch of her “books, articles and other bits and pieces” recommendation newsletter in January, as well as a documentary script coming next year.

Watch this space indeed.

Images: Bronac McNeill

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