Emirates Literature Foundation Blog (ELF)

Press Pause And Dive Into The Best Of The Boundless Book Club Podcast  

By: Rawan Akkila

Catch Up So You Can Keep Up With the Conversation

September marks the beginning of a new season of the Emirates Literature Foundation's Boundless Book Club podcast. And this season, much like the ones before it, will see our three resident book enthusiasts — Ahlam Bolooki, Andrea Gisdal, and Annabelle Corton — dive into the wide world of literature as they discuss everything from recent best-sellers to age-old classics and ponder some of the bigger ideas and themes these works offer us.

And to celebrate the launch of the new season, we've put together a short list of some of our favourite episodes, as well as the reasons why we love them!  So whether you've been an eager fan looking to reminisce about your favourite moments, or a first-time listener hoping to catch up, grab your headphones or plug your phone into your car and hit PLAY so you don't miss another minute! 

Season 1, Episode 3: "The Poetry Episode"

What makes the ordinary extraordinary — or the extraordinary ordinary? Have you ever come across a poem about a tomato? A seamstress? A bowl of broth? In this episode, Annabelle engages Ahlam and Andrea in a conversation about poetry, and her reading is one of the most enthralling aspects of the podcast! And while it is difficult to pick just one poem to read to your audience, Andrea’s selection from Dorothy Parker’s collection is the perfect steppingstone to a larger conversation about feminism and how it can relate to poetry. This episode urges you to think about certain phases in your life and how they can affect your choices and love of poetry. If you go back in time, would you read a different genre of poetry than the one you are currently reading? And would you approach the lines of poetry differently?

Season 1, Episode 10: "The Armchair Travel Episode"

Some books make you want to book a ticket right away and hop on the first plane elsewhere. Others evoke the smell of suntan lotion and the breeze of the ocean as you are lying down in bed... This episode celebrates books that do the travelling for us, or better yet, become the reason we travel! People read books as a form of escapism, as well as to be transported to a new and exciting location. But when it comes to books, travelling can take several forms, so Annabelle wonders if people ever have the desire to travel not to a new country, but to a specific scene in a book so they can be amidst the characters. Meanwhile, Ahlam brings along a different form of travelling: time-travelling through oral tales told throughout generations stretching into the past, while Andrea and Sarah Hamdan discuss the effect of age and motherhood on the decisions made when travelling and how fast their tastes have changed from adventurous and audacious to cozy and comfortable.

Season 1, Episode 16: "The Stereotype Episode"

Are all Emiratis born with a golden spoon in their mouths? And are all the English bad at music? This episode of the Boundless Book Club is exclusively dedicated to blowing all the stereotypes out of the water! Andrea, Annabelle, and the one and only Khalid Al Ameri smash all the common stereotypes and cultural perceptions, before Khalid talks about his personal experience with stereotypes about Pakistan and how he did not let them stop him from following his natural curiosity and discovering the truth for himself. But Andrea also contends that stereotypes, to some extent, serve a function in society by helping people make sense of the world, which leads us to the million-dollar question: Is there a positive side to stereotypes, or must they all be offensive, hurtful, and incorrect? Listen on and find out! 

Season 2, Episode 1: "The Fairies, Death, and the Books at the End of the Rainbow "

Reading about the other side of the world is a very exciting thing. Contemporary Irish literature opens the door to traipsing around the supernatural world where you will get to know stories about fairies, dragons, goblins, elves, and, even the dead! In this episode of the Boundless Book Club, Ahlam, Andrea, and Annabelle explore Irish fiction and show us how the culture of Ireland seeps through the text. Ahlam has great confidence in audiobooks, and in this episode, she wonders if reading a book is as good as listening to an audiobook? And which is better? Finally, Sheila Maher joins us from Dublin to discuss more intricate themes plucked from the most gripping Irish stories.

Season 2, Episode 7: "I am with the Band with Jessica Blau"

A little music goes a long way with the sun burning bright when it comes to the Dubai heat, and one of the big things that readers love while reading books is the sound of the pages turning. That's why some authors turn up the volume of their books by unmuting the pages, giving them a musical aspect and creating a one-of-a-kind experience for their readers. That is what Jessica Anya Blau did in her most recent book, Mary Jane. In this episode of the Boundless Book Club, Blau will reveal the secrets of her inspiration which brought this fascinating book to life, as well as the characters, the setting, and most importantly the music at the heart of this book. Ahlam, Andrea, and Annabelle explore the connection between books and music and how they together open a new door to culture.        

For more news on what the Emirates Literature Foundation is up to, follow us on Twitter and Instagram. And to keep up with the rest of our book-filled discussion, you can listen to the latest episode of our Boundless Book Club podcast, featured down below!

Rawan Akkila is a graduate of the University of Sharjah, having majored in English Language and Literature. She is keenly interested in literary translation, particularly that of short stories from English to Arabic and vice versa. She believes that every person should read classical poems, especially those of Sylvia Plath, Thomas Hardy, and William Wordsworth. She also enjoys reading children's books and admiringly gazes at their illustrations!