Talking of Books is a weekly review show which showcases some of Dubai’s most intrepid readers. From new releases to chats with local and international authors, this is a must-listen for any bibliophile.
Every week co-hosts Isobel Abulhoul and John MacDonald are joined by an ever-changing cast of guest reviewers drawn from the UAE’s reading community, to discuss and review a broad selection of fiction and non-fiction books, from business to travel; holistic to historical. Also, every week Isobel and John select a Book Champion to come in and introduce Dubai to a book they think is particularly significant and should be more widely read.
Talking of Books features regular interviews with today’s greatest writers, with previous interviewees including bestselling novelists Chris Cleave, superstar children’s authors Jacqueline Wilson, Andy Stanton and David Almond, internationally-renowned philosopher AC Grayling and rugby legend Brian Moore.
FANCY BEING A BOOK CHAMPION? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
COMING UP ON TALKING OF BOOKS THIS WEEK…
Taking The High Road by Ram Buxani
Taking the High Road pays tribute to two places that lie on the outposts of Asia – Dubai and Japan. Buxani has traced the history of the rise of these nations, drawing interesting links with the Sindhi spirit of adventure and enterprise. The book is also a testimonial to Sindhi women, who have played a leading role in the past and have an important new role in the future. Based in Dubai, Buxani has enjoyed considerable success as a businessman and his practical, no-nonsense approach to business will be an inspiration to any aspiring executive.
About Ram Buxani
A resident of Dubai for over five decades, Dr Ram Buxani is one of the most prominent Indians in the UAE.
Buxani’s path to becoming one of the country’s leading businessmen makes for a fascinating story, one that he narrates in his acclaimed autobiography, Taking the High Road, first published in 2003 and updated in 2013.
Buxani is a prominent spokesperson for non-resident Indians (NRI) and has played a key role in interacting with the Indian Government on their behalf. He has also received a shield from the President of India for his contributions to the NRI community.
He is currently Chairman of ITL Cosmos Group.
Connectography by Parag Khanna
In Connectography, visionary strategist Parag Khanna travels from Ukraine to Iran, Mongolia to North Korea, Pakistan to Nigeria, and across the Arctic Circle and the South China Sea to explain the rapid and unprecedented changes affecting every part of the planet. He shows how militaries are deployed to protect supply chains as much as borders, and how nations are less at war over territory than engaged in tugs-of-war over pipelines, railways, shipping lanes, and Internet cables. The new arms race is to connect to the most markets – a race China is now winning, having launched a wave of infrastructure investments to unite Eurasia around its new Silk Roads. The United States can only regain ground by fusing with its neighbours into a super-continental North American Union of shared resources and prosperity.
Connectography offers a unique and hopeful vision for the future. Khanna argues that new energy discoveries and technologies have eliminated the need for resource wars; ambitious transport corridors and power grids are unscrambling Africa’s fraught colonial borders; even the Arab world is evolving a more peaceful map as it builds resource and trade routes across its war-torn landscape. At the same time, thriving hubs such as Singapore and Dubai are injecting dynamism into young and heavily populated regions, cyber-communities empower commerce across vast distances, and the world’s ballooning financial assets are being wisely invested into building an inclusive global society. Beneath the chaos of a world that appears to be falling apart is a new foundation of connectivity pulling it together.
About Parag Khanna
Parag Khanna is a leading global strategist, world traveller, and bestselling author.
Khanna’s latest book is Technocracy in America. He has also authored Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization and the award-winning How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance and The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order.
Khanna has been an advisor to the U.S. National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2030 programme, and served in the foreign policy advisory group to the ‘Barack Obama for President’ campaign.
Born in India, Khanna grew up in the United Arab Emirates, New York and Germany.
Story Tellers Secret by Carmine Gallo
In The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch on and Others Don’t, keynote speaker, bestselling author, and communication expert Carmine Gallo reveals the keys to telling powerful stories that inspire, motivate, educate, build brands, launch movements, and change lives. The New York Times has called a well-told story “a strategic tool with irresistible power” – the proof lies in the success stories of 50 icons, leaders, and legends featured in The Storyteller’s Secret: entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Sara Blakely, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Sheryl Sandberg; spellbinding speakers like Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., Bryan Stevenson, and Malala Yousafzai; and business leaders behind famous brands such as Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, Wynn Resorts, Whole Foods, and Pixar. Whether your goal is to educate, fundraise, inspire teams, build an award-winning culture, or to deliver memorable presentations, a story is your most valuable asset and your competitive advantage.
In The Storyteller’s Secret, Gallo explains why the brain is hardwired to love stories – especially rags-to-riches stories – and how the latest science can help you craft a persuasive narrative that wins hearts and minds. “The art of storytelling can be used to drive change,” says billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson. And since the next decade will see the most change our civilization has ever known, your story will radically transform your business, your life, and the lives of those you touch. Ideas that catch on are wrapped in story. Your story can change the world. Isn’t it time you shared yours?
About Carmine Gallo
Carmine Gallo is an internationally admired keynote speaker, bestselling author and communication advisor. He is also an instructor at the Harvard University School of Design.
Gallo’s award-winning books on leadership and communication, including The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, Talk Like TED, and The Storyteller’s Secret, have achieved worldwide bestseller status.
Gallo has advised top executives for some of the world’s most admired brands. Gallo has been featured on numerous television shows and articles.
He writes popular columns for Forbes.com, Entrepreneur, and Business Insider. Gallo believes that everyone’s ideas should be heard and that everyone has a story to tell. His passion is helping people unleash their best ideas to change hearts and minds.
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
For the past three years, Jon Ronson has been immersing himself in the world of modern-day public shaming – meeting famous shamees, shamers, and bystanders who have been impacted. This is the perfect time for a modern-day Scarlet Letter – a radically empathetic book about public shaming, and about shaming as a form of social control. It has become such a big part of our lives it has begun to feel weird and empty when there isn’t anyone to be furious about. Whole careers are being ruined by one mistake. A transgression is revealed. Our collective outrage at it has the force of a hurricane. Then we all quickly forget about it and move on to the next one, and it doesn’t cross our minds to wonder if the shamed person is okay or in ruins. What’s it doing to them? What’s it doing to us?
About Jon Ronson
Jon Ronson is an award-winning writer and documentary maker. He is the author of numerous bestselling books including Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie, Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries, The Psychopath Test, The Men Who Stare at Goats and Them: Adventures with Extremists.
His screenplays include Frank, which starred Michael Fassbender, and Okja, currently in production and due for release in 2017, starring Tilda Swinton and directed by Bong Joon-Ho.
For the past three years, Ronson has travelled the world speaking to people who had been publicly shamed and collated their stories into his powerful and hilarious book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.
Ronson lives in London and New York City.
About Dr Hamad Al Hammady
Dr Hamad Al Hammady is an Emirati writer and novelist. In 2012, he published Left Towards The Heart, a book that combines literature and self-development.
In 2014 he published his first novel, Retaj. Based on true stories, it is the first political novel about the UAE and was also the first such novel to be adapted for television, as the series Betraying A Nation – Based On Retaj Novel. The series, which was broadcast during Ramadan 2016, was the most-watched television show in the UAE.
In 2015, Al Hammady published For Ghaith, the first Emirati novel to deal with youth involvement in terrorist organizations.
About Sheikh Abdulaziz Bin Ali Al Nuaimi
HH Dr Abdullaziz bin Ali Al Nuaimi is a sought-after speaker and one of the region’s most fascinating figures. A member of the Ajman royal family in the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Abdul Aziz has made a name for himself through a career in environmentalism. He is considered to be a change agent for environmental planning and long term strategy on sustainability in the UAE, leading as a global visionary and social campaigner in the region. His work has earned him the nickname, the Green Sheikh.
Sheikh Abdullaziz has, over the last 25 years, dedicated his life to traveling and collaborating around the world on issues related to humanity, understanding, environment and the road ahead.
My Story by Jo Malone
Jo Malone is the inspirational British businesswoman responsible for creating her globally renowned beauty business and, more recently, her new brand ‘Jo Loves’. This, her first autobiography, tells in full her incredible journey from modest beginnings as a teenager, struggling with dyslexia and leaving school with no qualifications, to becoming an international brand name and one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs.
Jo’s lively story explores how her fascination with smell teamed with her natural ability to create world-famous blends such as ‘Lime, Basil & Mandarin’, revolutionised the way we think about fragrance.
Her unique talent for pioneering innovation and originality within her field is unrivalled. Yet, despite her success, she has faced huge challenges with courage and determination, including being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37 and told she only had nine months to live, and her decision to go it alone after selling the original Jo Malone brand to the Estee Lauder Corporation and walking away in 2006.
Jo’s commitment and down-to-earth approach to life, work and family makes her one of the most likeable and well respected personalities in British retail and her honesty, hard work and entrepreneurial grit are an inspiration to all.
About Jo Malone
Jo Malone has been described as an ‘English scent maverick’ and the woman responsible for creating some of the world’s most-loved fragrances.
Originally a facial therapist, Malone fell in love with fragrance and soon word of her exceptional concoctions spread quickly. She then launched her first brand, Jo Malone London.
In 1999, Malone sold the business to Estée Lauder Companies and remained Creative Director until she left in 2006.
Two years later in 2008, Malone was honoured with an MBE for her services to the beauty industry.
In 2013, she opened the first Jo Loves store in Belgravia.
Jo Malone: My Story is her autobiography, published in 2016.
Beyond Happiness by Sir Anthony Seldon
As Britain’s best-known headmaster, Sir Anthony famously introduced happiness, or well-being, lessons at his school, Wellington College. In 2011, he co-founded Action for Happiness, a body to raise awareness of the discovery of happiness and reduction of depression, whose influence is growing rapidly in Britain and across the world.
In this book Anthony Seldon distinguishes between pleasure, happiness and joy, and offers an original 8-step approach on how to make our lives far more meaningful and rewarding. The pursuit of happiness can all too easily become a trap which seduces us into thinking there is no more to life than being happy. In fact, the author is highly critical of ‘positive psychology’ and other dominant schools of thought.
In fact, we need to reach beyond this if we are to access the deepest levels of human experience open to us, and find our own unique path in life. The author offers a further 5 steps, which point the way to accessing these deeper levels of experience, which alone result in the joyful life which is our birthright.
Paradoxically, as this book demonstrates, stepping off the happiness treadmill will ultimately make for a happier and more fulfilled life. It is time to go beyond happiness.
About Sir Anthony Seldon
Sir Anthony Seldon is a leading contemporary historian, educationalist, commentator and political author.
Seldon is author of over 40 books on contemporary history, including the inside book on the last four Prime Ministers. He has also written books on politics and education.
He was the co-founder and first director of the Centre for Contemporary British History; he also co-founded Action for Happiness. He is honorary historical adviser to 10 Downing Street, chair of the National Comment Awards, a member of the Government’s First World War Culture Committee, and a governor of The Royal Shakespeare Company.
He has been Vice-Chancellor of The University of Buckingham since 2015.
Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon
Bryony Gordon has OCD.
It’s the snake in her brain that has told her ever since she was a teenager that her world is about to come crashing down: that her family might die if she doesn’t repeat a phrase 5 times, or that she might have murdered someone and forgotten about it. It’s caused alopecia, bulimia, and drug dependency. And Bryony is sick of it. Keeping silent about her illness has given it a cachet it simply does not deserve, so here she shares her story with trademark wit and dazzling honesty.
A hugely successful columnist for the Telegraph, a bestselling author, and a happily married mother of an adorable daughter, Bryony has managed to laugh and live well while simultaneously grappling with her illness. Now it’s time for her to speak out. Writing with her characteristic warmth and dark humour, Bryony explores her relationship with her OCD and depression as only she can.
About Bryony Gordon
Bryony Gordon has worked for the Telegraph for 17 years as a feature writer and columnist.
She has written two Sunday Times bestselling books – The Wrong Knickers and Mad Girl, about her battles with OCD and depression.
Gordon founded the peer support group Mental Health Mates.
She lives in London with her husband and daughter.
Crisis by Frank Gardner
Introducing Luke Carlton – ex-Special Boat Service commando, and now under contract to MI6 for some of its most dangerous missions.
Sent into the steaming Colombian jungle to investigate the murder of a British intelligence officer, Luke finds himself caught up in the coils of a plot that has terrifying international dimensions. Hunted down, captured, tortured and on the run from one of South America’s most powerful and ruthless drugs cartels and its psychotic leader thirsting for revenge, Luke is in a life-or-death race against time to prevent a disaster on a truly terrifying scale: London is the target, the weapon is diabolical and the means of delivery is ingenious.
About Frank Gardner
Frank Gardner is the BBC’s award-winning Security Correspondent, reporting on a wide range of global security and terrorism stories. He has also written three Sunday Times bestsellers: Blood and Sand, Far Horizons, and his debut novel Crisis, published in June 2016.
While filming in Saudi Arabia in 2004, Gardner was shot six times at close range by terrorists but survived with major injuries. With a degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies from Exeter University, his passion for the Middle East is undiminished.
He was awarded the OBE by HM The Queen in 2005 for services to journalism.
Gardner lives in London and is currently writing the sequel to Crisis.
Nujeen by Christina Lamb
For millions around the globe, sixteen-year-old Nujeen Mustafa embodies the best of the human spirit. Confined to a wheelchair because of her cerebral palsy and denied formal schooling in Syria because of her illness, Nujeen taught herself English by watching American soap operas. When her small town became the epicenter of the brutal fight between ISIS militants and US-backed Kurdish troops in 2014, she and her family were forced to flee.
Despite her physical limitations, Nujeen embarked on the arduous trek to safety and a new life. The grueling sixteen-month odyssey by foot, boat, and bus took her across Turkey and the Mediterranean to Greece, through Macedonia to Serbia and Hungary, and finally, to Germany. Yet, in spite of the tremendous physical hardship she endured, Nujeen’s extraordinary optimism never wavered. Refusing to give in to despair or see herself as a passive victim, she kept her head high. As she told a BBC reporter, “You should fight to get what you want in this world.”
Nujeen’s positivity and resolve infuses this unforgettable story of one young woman determined to make a better life for herself. Told by acclaimed British foreign correspondent Christina Lamb, Nujeen is a unique and powerful memoir that gives voice to the Syrian refugee crisis, helping us to understand that the world must change – and offering the inspiration to make that change reality.
About Christina Lamb
Christina Lamb is a multi-award-winning journalist for the Sunday Times.
She has acted as Washington Bureau Chief for the paper and in 2009 she was awarded the prestigious Prix Bayeux Calvados for her reporting from Afghanistan. She won the Foreign Press Association Award for Story of the Year in 2007, and was also named Foreign Correspondent of the Year in the British Press Awards.
Lamb is the author of the best-selling The Africa House, Waiting for Allah, The Sewing Circles of Herat, Small Wars Permitting and I Am Malala, co-authored with Malala Yousafzai.
Her latest book, Nujeen, is co-written with inspirational young refugee Nujeen Mustafa.
I Shall Not Hate by Izzeldin Abuelaish
By turns inspiring and heartbreaking, hopeful and horrifying, I Shall Not Hate is Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish’s account of his extraordinary life. A Harvard-educated Palestinian doctor, he was born and raised in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip and “has devoted his life to medicine and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians” (New York Times). On January 16, 2009, Abuelaish lost three of his daughters and his niece when Israeli shells hit his home in the Gaza Strip. Instead of seeking revenge or sinking into hatred, he has called for the people of the region to come together so that his daughters will be “the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”
About Izzeldin Abuelaish
Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish is a four-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee. He has dedicated his life to using health as a vehicle for peace.
Dr Abuelaish’s book, I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity, an autobiography inspired by the loss of his three daughters and their cousin. The loss also inspired the founding of the Daughters for Life charity.
Dr Abuelaish’s extensive list of awards and honours includes countless national and international awards, including 14 honorary doctorate degrees, the Mahatma Gandhi peace award, the Order of Ontario and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Letters to a Young Muslim by Omar Ghobash
In a series of personal letters to his son, Omar Saif Ghobash offers a short and highly readable manifesto that tackles our current global crisis with the training of an experienced diplomat and the personal responsibility of a father. Today’s young Muslims will be tomorrow’s leaders, and yet too many are vulnerable to extremist propaganda that seems omnipresent in our technological age. The burning question, Ghobash argues, is how moderate Muslims can unite to find a voice that is true to Islam while actively and productively engaging in the modern world. What does it mean to be a good Muslim?
What is the concept of a good life? And is it acceptable to stand up and openly condemn those who take the Islamic faith and twist it to suit their own misguided political agendas? In taking a hard look at these seemingly simple questions, Ghobash encourages his son to face issues others insist are not relevant, not applicable, or may even be Islamophobic. These letters serve as a clear-eyed inspiration for the next generation of Muslims to understand how to be faithful to their religion and still navigate through the complexities of today’s world. They also reveal an intimate glimpse into a world many are unfamiliar with and offer to provide an understanding of the everyday struggles Muslims face around the globe.
About Omar Ghobash
His Excellency Omar Saif Ghobash was appointed Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the Russian Federation in 2008. He began his career with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a diplomat at the UAE Mission to the United Nations.
He is a founding trustee of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, which runs with the support of the Booker Prize Foundation in London. Ghobash also sponsors the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation.
His first book, Letters to a Young Muslim, is a series of personal letters Ghobash has written to his sons. It will be published in early 2017.