As with many of the guests in my Desert Island Books series, I first heard Rebecca Seal on a podcast (on Francesca Specter, to be precise). Rebecca is an award-winning food, drink, lifestyle and personal development writer based in London. She recently released a podcast – The Solo Collective – and wrote a book called SOLO: How To Work Alone (And Keep Your Mind Going).
Find out which eight books Rebecca would pack for a summer getaway on the sandy shores of a desert island, from foodie favorites to the book she believes all women should read.
Buy SOLO at Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon or Amazon AU.
Real fast food from Nigel Slater
I learned to cook from Nigel Slater and years later learned to write about food from him. We had this and some of his other books when I was a teenager. Back then, as a messy but enthusiastic beginner, I cooked a lot, also because I was the only vegetarian in my family. I brought the books to university when I left home, and a few years later my first real editorial job (after years of internship) was at Observer Food Monthly, a food magazine where he was an editor and recipe columnist. I learned so much there and from his work – although I still have a lot to learn – what food writing can be like. And I have and still love the book.
Buy real fast food at Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon or Amazon AU.
The Wolf Hall Trilogy by Hilary Mantel
Is it Cheating to Do a Trilogy? I love historical fiction; I love to be lost in another time and to forget where I am for a moment – something we all need a little more of now. And Mantel is certainly a master of the art. I know some people struggle with the length of the books, but I celebrate – I enjoyed that the books lived me for weeks and that I didn’t have to get back to the real world too quickly.
Buy Wolf Hall at Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon, or Amazon AU.
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
I haven’t read Pride and Prejudice in a while, but there was a time I read it at least once a year, and if I want to be on a desert island I want at least one book that I will never get bored of. I’m not sure why it’s so special to me – maybe because I first read it when I was very young, and maybe because of the landmark television adaptation (with Colin Firth) my family saw together. If I were really on an island it would be a memory of my home.
Buy Pride and Prejudice at Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon or Amazon AU.
Chasing the Sun by Linda Geddes
I think Linda Geddes was one of the writers who helped me understand that one can write about personal development and science, and physical and mental health, in a way that is still fascinating and compelling narratives. This book is about the way light affects the human body, but she also wrote a book on pregnancy, bumpology, which is one of the most sensible and insightful on the subject. Read this and move your desk closer to a window.
Buy Chasing the Sun at Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon, or Amazon AU.
Spoon Fed: Why almost everything we’ve been told about food is wrong by Tim Spector
Last year I wrote an intestinal health cookbook (it’s out this summer and is called Happy Guts, part of the series of Happy cookbooks I am writing with the LEON chain of restaurants in the UK). That’s why I’ve read a lot about our microbiome and read good and bad gut bacteria. It’s a relatively new area of complex science, but Tim Spector does an excellent job of summarizing a lot of recent research in this and his previous book, The Diet Myth.
Buy Spoon Fed at Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon, or Amazon AU.
Underland by Robert McFarlane
A book about everything under our feet, from caves to catacombs to mines. It really is an epic work as it often gives the impression that the author is traveling back in time (even though they are non-fiction books) and deep underground. The writing is so beautiful; sometimes it felt like you were in a poem.
Buy Underland at Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon, or Amazon AU.
Calm: Why we do more when we work less by Alex Soojung Kim Pang
This book really influenced my thinking while writing SOLO on how we got to a cultural point where we are actually celebrating overwork while neglecting everything our bodies and brains need in terms of rest and relaxation. Alex is one of the respondents on the first series of my podcast, the Solo Collective, and he’s making a very strong, evidence-based argument for the dormant restorative power.
Buy rest at Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon or Amazon AU.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
This is not my usual type of book – I thought. It was too popular and too many people evangelized about it, so I didn’t want to read it – until my desk colleague left a copy on my desk and I felt I had to try. And then … I devoured it. I wanted to read it again immediately. All women should read it. It explains so much about how women feel about themselves and how we live our lives distorted – and how we can break out of them – because of the invisible structures that surround us. It’s easy to read and deeply inspiring. If everyone else hadn’t already said it, I would say it changed life.
Buy untamed at Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon or Amazon AU.
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