Rosa BalfourDirector of Carnegie Europe

Nonfiction

Tim Harford’s How to Make the World Add Up took me completely out of my comfort zone into the fascinating world of statistics and why it is so important to be numerate to critically interpret the information we are bombarded with and to understand the world.

Fiction

I had the delight of retreading Family Lexicon by Natalia Ginzburg, a delicate portrait of the writer’s family written with joy, sadness, and empathy that marked my early teenage passage to adult literature. The novel also opens a window on the traumas of societies torn by fascism, anti-fascism, war, and civil war.

TV Series

Midnight Diner is a universe of human sentiment, tastes, and flavors concentrated in a tiny nighttime diner in Tokyo. A gem.

Robert CooperAuthor and Council Member at the European Council on Foreign Relations

Nonfiction

From Party Politics to Militarism in Japan 1924-1941 by Kitaoka Shinichi. We know what happened in Europe. This is a starting point for understanding Asia.

Our Man by George Packer. History that we all lived through: the story of Richard Holbrooke. In spite of everything—that’s a whole lot—you have to admire him.

Fiction

Middlemarch by George Eliot. Again!

Best book to give as a present

Long ago I gave Poem for the Day to Aung San Suu Kyi, before she went down for another spell of house arrest (i.e. solitary confinement). Poems are good when you’re in prison: you can read them over and over again. I hope she’s got it with her this time.

Film, TV Series, Podcast, Exhibition, Recital

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s exhibition on Iran. A civilization we must hope will return. And Wigmore Hall Concerts.

Florence GaubDeputy Director of the European Union Institute for Security Studies

Nonfiction

Humankind by Rutger Bregman. A soothing book that posits that fundamentally humans are good. A must read for cynics.

Fiction

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I spent the pandemic reading the Sci-Fi classics, and yes, Frankenstein isn’t about a monster but about how humans relate to their creation.

Film, TV Series, Podcast, Exhibition, Recital

I improved my Spanish watching Latin American series such as Casa de las Flores or Four Seasons in Havana.

Gaza Surf Club: I’m a surfer working on the Middle East so perhaps this is an obvious choice—but it will speak to anyone who needs some uplifting.

Guilty Pleasure

Ramadan series are a treasure trove of Arab drama: The Secret of the Nile, Cairo Class, ...

Mamane Bello Garba HimaEconomist, Ministry of Planning in Niger

Fiction

L'Enfant noir: The novel is an autobiographical work by the writer Camara Laye. For a different biography to that of the author’s, I always enjoyed reading this novel because it traces my life and I do have tears whenever reading it.

The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born: this fantastic novel tells the story of a nameless man who struggles to reconcile himself with the reality of post-independence Ghana. Very nice to read—particularly the tension between wife and husband during difficult times.

Film, TV Series, Podcast, Exhibition, Recital

Game of Thrones: Created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss for HBO, this television series is set in the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and the continent of Essos. I really enjoyed spending my additional free time created by coronavirus on this series.