Nadiya Hussain used to live a pretty normal life. Born to parents who had emigrated to Britain from Bangladesh, she grew up in a muslim family with five siblings. She entered an arranged marriage and became a wife and mother herself. And then, in 2015, she entered the BBC cooking show The Great British Bake-Off, and nothing was quite the same again.
Since winning Bake-Off Hussain has gone on to become a regular fixture on our television screens presenting both cookery and entertainment shows for the BBC in her familiar warm, friendly and enthusiastic style. She is a regular contributor to BBC’s Good Food, has a monthly column in The Times and has also written a popular children’s book, Bake Me A Story.
On 1 December we’re delighted to welcome Hussain to Southbank Centre to discuss her recently released memoir, Finding My Voice, and with it her own remarkable journey and personal evolution as a mother, a working woman, a Muslim and a celebrity. But before we listen to her talk about her own book, we asked Hussain to pick out six books by others that carried a particular significance for her.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I first encountered this book for my English GCSE and essentially, I was forced to read it. But it was eye-opening; it was the first time that history opened up for me in a way it never had before, and I understood there was a world outside my own. I think it resonated with me more because of the racism, something I have also experienced.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
It’s just the most wonderful love story, unlikely but beautiful. We are familiar with love stories of all varieties but to read about a man in a wheelchair, torn and bitter, finding love was refreshing.
The Nancy Drew Files by Carolyn Keene
Nancy Drew was everything I wanted to be; she was held back, restricted by rules and curfews, but she got to be someone else every night when she went out exploring. I often wondered what it would be like to sneak away and play detective. What would I find?
The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater
I love cookbooks, every single possible kind, but this book is beautiful to look at, to touch, to read and to cook from. The Christmas fruitcake is my favourite recipe.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.
I haven’t read this, but I know there has been a recent television adaptation starring George Clooney. So, before I even put it on my list of series to watch, it’s right there on top of my list of books to read first.
Mama’s Boy by Dustin Lance Black
I’m excited to read about his journey. I love autobiographies; they not only give an insight into people’s lives, but also their values and what it is that makes them who they are.