Winamp Logo
Books To Live By… with Mariella Frostrup Podcast Cover
Books To Live By… with Mariella Frostrup Podcast Profile

Books To Live By… with Mariella Frostrup Podcast

English, Literature, 1 season, 6 episodes, 3 hours, 49 minutes
Mariella uncovers surprising stories from the world’s best loved personalities as they talk her through their favourite books.
Episode Artwork

Dougie Poynter

After admiring the many animal artefacts dotted around Dougie’s flat – from a saber-toothed tiger’s skull to glass cases filled with extinct insects - he and Mariella settle down to chat about the McFly star’s favourite books of all time. A whopping three tales are dedicated to one of his biggest interests in life: dinosaurs! Whilst discussing Michael Crichton’s 1990’s fictional classic “Jurassic Park”, his most loved non-fiction book “The Rise and Fall of Dinosaurs” by Stephen Brusatte, and the comical children’s booked he penned with his band mate “The Dinosaur that Pooped a Planet”, Dougie explains how this niche passion extends from a fascination and respect for the wonders of the natural world. Upon being asked what sparked his interest, he recalls being taken by his Mum to the Natural History Museum at the age of 3 and being blown away. They chat more about his childhood, with Dougie revealing the pain that came with his father leaving one day without a trace, and the on-going journey of dealing with that loss. Several of Dougie’s choices allude to his rock and roll lifestyle; he read the notoriously wild anecdotes of the band Mötley Crüe in their book “The Dirt” at a time when he himself was partying dangerously hard as young pop star at the peak of fame. He opens up about his struggles with drink and drug addiction and how he found the road to recovery. Throughout the interview, Mariella and Dougie relive his incredible life story and the books that have punctuated this journey. Dougie’s choices: The book that… … Is my favourite non-fiction book about dinosaurs: “The Rise and Fall of Dinosaurs” by Stephen Brusatte, 2018 …. Is true rock and roll: “The Dirt” by Mötley Crüe, 2001 … Reminds me of the romance and roughness of being on tour: “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac, 1957 … I loved writing: “The Dinosaur That Pooped A Planet” by Tom Fletcher & Dougie Poynter, 2012 … Epitomises my love of dinosaurs: “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton, 1990 … Helps me understand our place in the universe: “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari, 2011 Presenter and Executive Producer: Mariella Frostrup Producer: Sera Baker Music: Matt Clifford at Music and Voices TBI Media Production for BBC Sounds
6/6/201943 minutes, 31 seconds
Episode Artwork


After winding through the sunny streets of Bristol to the O2, Mariella finds NAO fresh from her sound check in a cosy, dark corner of the venue’s bar. As the pair discuss NAO’s female-focused book choices, they uncover interesting themes from her life. Her astonishing personal story is slowly explored, with NAO discussing her journey from growing up sharing a bed with her siblings, to getting a prestigious scholarship to the Guildhall, becoming a SoundCloud sensation, to starting her own record label - and now having 1 track alone with over 34 million streams on Spotify and a sell out European tour coming to an end. Many of NAO’s book choices focus on histories which remain untold by GCSE syllabuses, from the rule of Chairman Mao in China (Wild Swans by Jung Chang) to the slave trade of Ghana (Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi), often homing in on the inter-generational female narratives that weave through these stories in particular. She talks about the effects of not seeing darker skinned female artists on MTV when she was growing up, and how she’s proud that her presence on the music scene has started to fill that void. She is endearingly surprised when Mariella points out that so many of her book choices also feature other women of colour succeeding against the odds. In short, this interview makes for an illuminating insight to mind and passions of this thoughtful, creative, female fighter. NAO’s choices: The book that… … Takes her back a peaceful place: ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2006 ... Broke her heart: ‘Wild Swans’ by Jung Chang, 1991 … She could not put down: ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanangihara, 2015 … She feels every woman should read: “Rushing Woman’s Syndrome’ by Dr Libby Weaver, 2017 … Is her all time favourite: ‘Homegoing’ by Yaa Gyasi, 2016 … Started her love affair with the author: ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hesseini, 2007 Presenter and Executive Producer: Mariella Frostrup Producer: Sera Baker Music: Matt Clifford at Music and Voices TBI Media Production for BBC Sounds
5/23/201936 minutes, 30 seconds
Episode Artwork

Brian Cox

After escaping from the rain in Brian’s tree house hotel, Mariella sets out to discover the books that have shaped the life and brain of Britain’s favourite physicist. As a precursor to listing his choices, Brian explains the important link between the arts and the sciences, explaining how he has always combined the two fields when searching for the answers to the big questions that form the basis of his work: ‘why are we here?, what’s the meaning of life?, how did it all begin?’ This sentiment is visible in the books that Brian discusses: from the creative and futuristic tale ‘Spacecraft 2000 to 2100 AD’ by Stewart Crawley that he first read as a child, to Hofstader’s seminal ‘Godel, Escher and Bach’ which explores how the life works of a mathematician, an artist and a composer combine to produce richer understanding of human existence. Mariella dives into the genius working of Brian’s mind (or at least attempts to), discussing his book choices ‘Cosmos’ by Carl Sagan and ‘General Relativity from A to B’ by Robert Geroch. Together they tackle big topics like religion, the possibility that the universe is eternal (and therefore didn’t begin with the big bang) and why science in an exercise in learning that we’re wrong. The pair engage in a heated debate about the best way to protect the earth from global warming, with Brian arguing we should harvest the resources of other planets such as Mars and zone the earth residential. They also reminisce about Brian’s punk days as a purple-haired teen in Oldham, with Mariella asking if his early interest in physics made him odd. Brian’s choices: The book that… … Is his childhood favourite: ‘Childhood’s End’ by Arthur C Clarke, 1953 ... Inspires him the most: ‘Cosmos’ by Carl Sagan, 1980 … Is his favourite autobiography: ‘Experience’ by Martin Amis, 2000 … Changed how he thinks about physics: ‘General Relativity from A to B’ by Robert Geroch, 1981 … Takes a lifetime to write and a lifetime to understand: ‘Godel, Escher and Bach’ by Douglas Hofstader, 1979 … Inspired his love of space when he was 8 years old: ‘Spacecraft 200 to 2100 AD’ by Stewart Cowley, 1978 Presenter and Executive Producer: Mariella Frostrup Producer: Sera Baker Music: Matt Clifford at Music and Voices TBI Media Production for BBC Sounds
5/9/201939 minutes, 42 seconds
Episode Artwork

Carlos Acosta

Travelling by train to Somerset, Mariella visits Carlos Acosta in his secluded fairy tale home. Managing to sneak away from his doting children, the pair settle down to discuss his books to live by. From the first book he ever read at 25 years old (following a tough childhood in Havana that excluded reading) to the books he himself has gone on to author, Carlos details his extraordinary life story and the role that reading has played throughout it. Through his choices learn how his tough, truck driving father decided Carlos was to take up ballet, sending him away to a boarding school where he misbehaved. Discover how he used reading and writing as therapy upon first moving to London to join the Royal Ballet, going on to pen an autobiography and novel. Hear the story of how he met and pursued his now wife, and the romantic tale that she gifted him once they married, and also unearth the book he’d now recommend to anyone starting a career like his. Interestingly, the pair detect a lost, lonely, sad boy as a reoccurring character in many of Carlos’ book choices. Now the Director or the Birmingham Royal Ballet, he reflects on his fascinating rise to ballet super stardom, detailing the pain he’s encountered on the way to the top. Carlos’ choices: The book that… … Was his first ever read: ‘Catcher in the Rye’ by J. D. Salinger, 1951 … Was therapy to write and he’d leave for his children: ‘No Way Home: A Cuban Dancer’s Story’ by Carlos Acosta, 2008 … Was a gift from his wife: ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’, by Audrey Niffenegger, 2003 … He loves to read aloud to his children: ‘James and the Giant Peach’ by Roald Dahl, 1961 … He’s read more than once: ‘Animal Farm’ by Goerge Orwell, 1945 … Made him cry: ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini, 2003 … He’d recommend to anyone starting a career like his: ‘Perpetual Motion: The Public and Private Lives of Rudolf Nureyev’ by Otis Stuart, 1995 Presenter and Executive Producer: Mariella Frostrup Producer: Sera Baker Researcher: Judy Elliot Music: Matt Clifford at Music and Voices TBI Media Production for BBC Sounds
4/25/201934 minutes, 29 seconds
Episode Artwork

Cate Blanchett

Oscar winning star Cate Blanchett invites Mariella to her home in the South Downs to peruse her bookshelves. After being greeted at the door by Doug the Pug, the pair settle down to discuss Cate’s most loved books, discovering the role they’ve played throughout her life – whether as part of her Australian childhood or influencing her performances on stage and screen. In her picture book choice you’ll meet the Bunyip – a mythological creature whose story she loved so much she now reads it to her children. Then there’s the Russian magic realist classic that she found super sexy, and the brutal love story she sees as an ode to her homeland. Mariella and Cate find reoccurring themes; from gender politics to sexual harassment, cruelty within love, romance and the evolution of feminism. The pair move on to discuss the #MeToo movement, how to manage success as a woman and the perils of social media when it comes to sexual abuse claims. Their witty and thought-provoking chat dives deep into Cate’s life and thoughts, even briefly bagging Mariella a new job as Cate’s personal shrink. Cate’s choices: The book that… … She’s read to all her children: ‘The Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek’ by Jenny Wagner, 1975 ... Is her childhood favourite: ‘The Magic Far Away Tree’ by Enid Blyton, 1943 … Bends her mind: ‘Aftermath’ by Rachel Cusk, 2012 … She revisited after decades: ‘The First Stone: Some questions about sex and power’ by Helen Garner, 1995 … Broke her heart: ‘A Manual for Cleaning Women’ by Lucia Berlin, 2015 … She was ambushed by: ‘The Watch Tower’ by Elizabeth Harrow, 1966 … Is brutally romantic: ‘Voss’ by Patrick White, 1957 … She finds totally bizarre: ‘The Master and Margarita’ by Mikhail Bulgakov, 1967 Presenter and Executive Producer: Mariella Frostrup Producer: Sera Baker Music: Matt Clifford at Music and Voices TBI Media Production for BBC Sounds
4/11/201938 minutes, 9 seconds
Episode Artwork

Dominic West

Join Mariella as she visits the rural retreat of Dominic West, star of The Wire and Les Misérables, to unveil his secret hopes and fears through the books he loves. You’ll discover his favourite story to read his children, the travel classic that sent him on his way and the surprising autobiography he highly rates. Stick around and you’ll even witness him reading aloud his most treasured graphic erotic poetry. Mariella learns how these books have inspired and guided him throughout his life - to connect with his Irish roots, to fear nationalism, and even learn how to persuade a chimp to let go of a penis! Along the way you’ll also hear why libraries are the sexiest places on earth and discover the common themes underlying Dominic’s choices – sex and death. Perhaps you’ll join them in concluding that intensive therapy is needed! Dominic’s book choices: The book that… … He reads to his children: ‘Big Ugly Monster and Little Stone Rabbit’ by Christopher Wormell, 2004 … He remembers reading as a teen: ‘A Time of Gifts’ by Patrick Leigh Fermor, 1977 … Mirrors our current political landscape: ‘The World of Yesterday: Memoirs of a European’ by Stefen Zweig, 1942 … Is a written by a larger than life friend: ‘A Lion in the Bedroom: The Fabulous High Life of an Heiress Who Couldn’t Say No’ by Pat Cavendish O'Neil, 2004 … Contains the most gripping erotic poetry: ‘The Platonic Blow’ by W. H. Auden, 1965 (poem) … Reminds him of his Mum: Unspecified poems of Thomas Hardy, written 1989-1928 Presenter and Executive Producer: Mariella Frostrup Producers: Sera Baker and Milly Chowles Researcher: Judy Elliot Music: Matt Clifford at Music and Voices TBI Media Production for BBC Sounds
3/28/201936 minutes, 52 seconds