5 episodes

In our day jobs at the Emirates Literature Foundation, you'd normally find us talking and thinking about books, whether we are planning the next Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, guessing whodunnit, or debating the ultimate feel-good novel.

From Russian tragedies to Australian comedies, from historical biographies to the science of space travel, and from Emirati slam poetry to Saudi science fiction, our appetite for words knows no bounds.

We may be temporarily housebound, but the books we read are not. Join us for a roaming literary conversation.

The Boundless Book Club Emirates Literature Foundation

    • Books
    • 5.0, 2 Ratings

In our day jobs at the Emirates Literature Foundation, you'd normally find us talking and thinking about books, whether we are planning the next Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, guessing whodunnit, or debating the ultimate feel-good novel.

From Russian tragedies to Australian comedies, from historical biographies to the science of space travel, and from Emirati slam poetry to Saudi science fiction, our appetite for words knows no bounds.

We may be temporarily housebound, but the books we read are not. Join us for a roaming literary conversation.

    Boundless Book Club: The Putting Fiction in its Place episode

    Boundless Book Club: The Putting Fiction in its Place episode

    In this fifth episode of the Boundless Book Club from the Emirates Literature Foundation, you’ll find Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle recommending and chatting about the connections between genres and geography, from Scandi Noir, to Magic Realism, and beyond. 


    Books and authors mentioned in this episode:


    Grab a cup of cocoa, because it gets chilly as our very own Scandi, Andrea, takes us on a pit-stop tour of Scandi Noir. From the power of landscape in Wallander, to the bonkers plot of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the rollercoaster ride of the graphic violence that pervades the genre overall and why these books could never be set anywhere else but the cold dark and brooding landscape of the north. 


    Titles mentioned in this section include The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler, The Wallander Series by Henning Mankell, Camilla Lackberg novels, The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, and Jo Nesbo also gets name dropped.   


    Ahlam reflects on her own relationship with the Arabic language, modern Arabic fiction and its relationship to the Arab World, and takes us back to the Islamic rule of Spain and its influence on similar styles of storytelling you’ll find from Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, to Arabian Nights and modern novelists like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and his Chronicle of a Death Foretold. 


    The city of New York, the Great Depression and the birth of the comic book, is followed by a look at a literary and pop culture in gothic fiction from Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto to the sunnier yet still sinister stories of vampires and monsters in Southern USA - it’s a great big family tree that connects Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird with Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, and even award-winning film Get Out. 


    Annabelle recommends reading The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, Dracula by Bram Stoker, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay by Michael Chabon, and more. 


    About us:


    Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next?


    Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble. 


    Annabelle Corton is part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry. 

    • 30 min
    Boundless Book Club: The Self Help episode

    Boundless Book Club: The Self Help episode

    In this episode of the Boundless Book Club from the Emirates Literature Foundation, you’ll find Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle talking about self-help – its popularity as a genre, and if it is something you can find on their own bookshelves.  


    Books and authors mentioned in this episode:


    How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, Or Job, by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith 


    Andrea wishes she’d found this book years ago and now finds herself nodding along to advice she’s since learned to be true and ‘hold-back’ traits of which she’s possibly still guilty. Do we have to be less polite to get that promotion? It’s all in the podcast, along with Andrea’s main point that despite bringing a self-help book to the self-help party, fiction is still the best way to understand yourself and the world around you. 


    The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k, by Mark Manson


    Intrigued by stories of successful people bouncing back from failure, Annabelle was one of many people who spotted footballer Mo Salah reading this after a World Cup failure. Not a regular self-help reader, she makes an exception for this book because of what is has to say about life giving you lemons, and explains why she thinks the genre is so often hit-or-miss. 


    Reasons to Stay Alive, by Matt Haig 


    Ahlam’s first book off the shelf is Matt Haig’s memoir and self-help book based on his experience of living with depression and anxiety. She found it helpful as a tool for anyone going through mental illness themselves, but also as a tool for family and friends to understand what someone with a mental illness goes through. 


    A Monk’s Guide to Happiness, by Gelong Thubten 


    Ahlam takes us on a journey to happiness by way of Buddhist monk Gelong Thubten’s DIY guide on how to be happier featuring practical tips and guided meditations. Since reading the book she’s also been inspired to join a guided meditation course while in lockdown – she tells us what people often get wrong about meditation and why the book is useful to anyone, particularly now. 


    The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin


    Annabelle joins Andrea in the ‘well, fiction is the best form of self-help, really’ camp. It is a lovely camping spot with books like The Novel Cure to guide you. It really does what it says on the tin: What ails you? Are you anxious? Not sure what to read next? Living with a terminal illness? Hungry? Whatever your ailment or mood or concern, there’s a book recommendation to enlighten and heal you. 


    Conditions of Love: The Philosophy of Intimacy by John Armstrong 


    Andrea is then inspired to recommend this meditation on intimacy which asks ‘what is it to love another person?’ featuring observations on humanity and quotes from literature. 


    About us:


    Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next?


    Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble. 


    Annabelle Corton is part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. She runs the...

    • 18 min
    Boundless Book Club: The Poetry episode

    Boundless Book Club: The Poetry episode

    In this episode of the Boundless Book Club from the Emirates Literature Foundation, you’ll find Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle talking about poetry – when they turn to it, page vs performance, and what happens when they’re given the tough task of choosing just one poem to share with each other.  


    Poems, Poets and Collections in this episode:


    The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam 


    Ahlam’s collection of poems from the 11th Century polymath Omar Khayyam have a history as fascinating as the poems themselves, from Edward Fitzgerald’s translation to the history in her own secondhand copy. Ahlam reads two of his poems and illustrates that Centuries on, we can find comfort in the fact that genius and inventor of the solar calendar Khayyam, still tussled with the same big questions we ask in 2020.   


    Dorothy Parker – all the poems, all the time. 


    “Three be the things I shall never attain: Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.” – this is the Dorothy Parker quote that Andrea kicks us off with, before taking us on a magical mystery tour of this legend’s style, the brevity of her wit and humour, the feminists she disappointed back in the day, and what she thinks Dorothy would make of an office cat being named after her. No specific collection is recommended, but we’re pretty sure Andrea wants you to read ALL OF THEM.


    Tracy K. Smith via Poetry Foundation / her collection ‘Life on Mars’ 


    An entire website of poetry (Poetry Foundation) is about as close as Annabelle gets to committing to a poetry collection – it’s a great way to explore poems grouped by random themes. She usually gravitates towards quiet moments expanded into thoughtful poems like Billy Collins’ ‘Aimless Love’ or Pablo Neruda’s ‘Ode to a Tomato’, but she’s chosen a poem about the beginning of The Universe itself by US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. 


    The episode wraps up with a look at whether we’d read each other’s recommendations and Annabelle has an epiphany about why she likes poems that focus on tomatoes or the sound of the Big Bang.  


    About us:


    Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next?


    Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble. 


    Annabelle Corton is part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry. 

    • 21 min
    Boundless Book Club: The Guilty Pleasures episode

    Boundless Book Club: The Guilty Pleasures episode

    In this second episode of the Boundless Book Club from the Emirates Literature Foundation, you’ll find Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle asking if there is such a thing as a ‘guilty pleasure’ when it comes to reading, and what books they have hidden at the back of the bookshelf.


     


    In this episode:


    Love Letters of Great Men, by John C. Kirkland


    You might be surprised that a book of letters from Bonaparte, Darwin, Churchill and many other old important dudes would be a source of shame, but Ahlam’s reason for purchasing it from a New York bookstore had more to do with the Sex and the City movie and Carrie Bradshaw than anything else. She also has a great story about two men and their beards.


    Confessions of a Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella


    Annabelle doesn’t even like shopping but she’s a Shopaholicaholic. Rebecca Bloomwood is a financial journalist up to her eyeballs in debt with a shopping addiction – a simple elegant conflict that has spawned an entire series of books where Rebecca Bloomwood makes terrible decisions and saves the day regardless.


    Bridget Jones’ Diary, by Helen Fielding


    Should you feel guilty about this one? Annabelle argues no, but includes it because she knows there are those who do. It’s a joy to read about a woman struggling to adult, and Annabelle’s picked out a quote that will speak to any woman in quarantine who has ‘misplaced’ their shaving razor, and one from the author herself on why she thinks Bridget’s antics have continued to be popular since 1996.  


    Pattern, by Orla Kiely


    Coffee table books – we’ve all had at least one laying around at some point. Andrea has several, doesn’t read any of them and feels nothing but joy about the whole situation. Move over guilt, because Andrea’s here with her love of the aesthetically pleasing designs of Irish-born designer Orla Kiely who broke through bland and conceptual 90s fashion with bright and colourful patterns.


    Polo, by Jilly Cooper


    Rich people on horses, with ridiculous names, involved in over-the-top drama? ‘Yes please!’ says Andrea - horse-riding enthusiast and lover of witty prose. When she looked up the book online she was met with ‘this book is out of stock due to high demand’ – escapism is so in right now.


    Babble, by Charles Saatchi


    If your boss gave you a book to read that asked questions like what your last meal on death row would be, your curiosity might be piqued. Ahlam’s certainly was. In Babble, art collector and ad exec Charles Saatchi touches on random topics in essays that you can dip in and out of.


    Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, by Steve Harvey


    When he’s not hosting Family Feud, Steve Harvey is giving out relationship advice, in books and film which Ahlam was drawn to in her 20s as she tried to understand the male psyche. Content-wise she’s not too convinced, but it reminds her of a certain time in her life – and whatever we think of them now, all our guilty pleasure books are part of our reading journey. 


    The Words You Should Know to Sound Smart, by Robert W. Bly


    Ahlam has two copies of this book of ‘1200 essential words every sophisticated person should be able to use’ -listen to find out why. If you want to talk about effulgent kwanza festivities, this book is for you. 


    The Notebook/Dear John/Any Title, by Nicholas Sparks


    A diehard fan of The Notebook, and even Dear John, though as you listen you may conclude that it has something to do with the lead actor in the film adaptation, not just the story. Any conversation of guilty pleasures is bound to reach Channing Tatum territory eventually, after all.


    About us:


    Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always

    • 20 min
    Boundless Book Club: The Isolation episode

    Boundless Book Club: The Isolation episode

    For this inaugural episode of the Boundless Book Club from the Emirates Literature Foundation, you’ll find Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle talking about Isolation, and books that in some way connect to the topic of either physical, or perhaps more common, social isolation.

    We also discuss how the social distancing and subsequent lock down has affected our own reading, and what genre we reach for in this time of need.

    • 43 min

Customer Reviews

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2 Ratings

Nickilita ,

Great recommendations!

Like being in a book club, and I enjoy the wide list of authors and books.

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