Books That Changed Me: Sophie Dahl

Sophie Dahl called her first daughter Lyra after the character in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.Credit:

Sophie Dahl began her working life as a teenage fashion model, but books and words were her first love. She is the author of bestselling books; two novels and two cookbooks. Madame Badobedah, her first book for children, is published by Walker Books. It is also available as a Bolinda audiobook, read by the author.

Philip Pullman
My husband introduced me to Pullman’s trilogy when we were newly dating. I’d moved back to London and spent a summer lost in the story of fierce Lyra Belacqua. She’s a brilliant heroine: clever, sparky, funny, loyal and vulnerable. Pullman’s books ring with wisdom and truth. I’m still hooked on his writing; so much so, we called our first daughter Lyra. In a great, full circle, I’m interviewing him for the launch of his new book, The Secret Commonwealth.

Pema Chodron
This book has seen me through a few challenging times. She’s a funny, wise Buddhist monk with a sense of humour. There’s some great, practical life advice in there.

Joan Aiken
Everything you want a good story to be, it’s atmospheric, crawling with villains and adversity!
As a kid I had a nerdy thing about secret passages and orphans, and this book is full of both. My
heroine in Madame Badobedah, Mabel, is not an orphan, but there’s a secret passage. Old habits die hard.

Claire Dederer
It’s so insightful about womanhood, sexuality and marriage. It’s also about coming of age in a pre #metoo era and how that and the responses of adults around Dederer as a young woman shaped her. There’s so much in this book that’s important – conversations around sex and consent, and an adolescent’s right to explore their sexuality and potency without adults thinking it’s an invitation. I’m so glad that this stuff is now under the microscope, that we’re having the conversation.

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