Time to add some books to the shelves…

The best two weekends of the year for bibliophiles is finally here. Emirates Literature Festival is back starting this weekend from February 3 to 13 at Habtoor City hotels.

Some of the world’s top authors are heading to the What’s On award-winning festival this year which is held under the theme ‘Here comes the Sun’.

According to Ahlam Bolooki, the Lit Fest director,  the theme ‘is perfect for where we are today, two years into the global pandemic. We have all collectively been living under a dark cloud, and now is the time for a new dawn where we can look forward with hope.’

In keeping with the theme, we decided to ask the line-up of authors just one question before the start of the Emirates Literature Festival this weekend:

Based on the theme of the festival which is your go-to feel-good book and what is your favourite quote from it?

Julia Quinn

Julia Quinn

Book: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Quote: ‘Stop calling me Shortcake’,
‘Watching you pretend to hate that nickname is the best part of my day.’

Ben Miller

Ben miller

For a life-affirming adventure, you can’t beat…

Book: Winnie the Pooh
Quote: ‘People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.’ – by the cuddly yellow bear himself

Sara Forden

Sara Gay Forden

Book: The Da Vince Code by Dan Brown
Quote: ‘The blind see what they want to see.’

Carlos Andrés Gómez

Carlos Andrés Gómez

One of my favourite books ever, which still makes my blood tingle while I read it, is…

Book: Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay

I could offer you a book of favourite quotes from it, but one that stands out to me at this moment (from the collection’s titular poem):

Quote: I know I can be long-winded sometimes.
I  want so badly to rub the sponge of gratitude
over every last thing, including you

Polly Phillips

As a psychological thriller writer, my favourite type of book to read is definitely a fast-paced thriller and my feel-good factor generally comes from a great twist or a really satisfying ending! That said, I’m also a sucker for books about friendship and families, particularly if there’s a beloved family pet involved. A recent favourite is…

Book: Dog Days by Ericka Walker

It has a wonderful prelude that ends with: 

Quote: There is a brief moment when time pauses itself, and we can see the fragile threads between them glittering like gold in the rain. From a finger here to an elbow there. From the corner of Atticus’ smile to Dan’s beating heart. From paw to person and back again.

Annabel Kantaria

Book: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

While there are many nuggets in there, the quote I’d pull for this purpose is:

Quote: You can’t go through life not listening to music.

Julia Johnson


Book: The Power of One Quotes by Bryce Courtenay

Quote: ‘The power of one was the courage to remain separate, to think through to the truth and not to be beguiled by convention or the plausible arguments of those who expect to maintain power, whatever the cost.’

‘Always listen to yourself, Peekay.  It is better to be wrong than simply to follow convention.  If you are wrong, no matter, you have learned something and you will grow stronger.’

‘In teaching me independence of thought, they had given me the greatest gift an adult can give to a child besides love, and they had given me that also.’

But Julia’s absolute favourite: ‘The power of one is above all things the power to believe in yourself…’

Felicia Yap

Felicia Yap

My favourite feel-good book is…

Book: The Humans by Matt Haig

I found the story heart-warming and wonderfully life-affirming. My favourite…

Quote: ‘You are lucky to be alive. Inhale and take in life’s wonders. Never take so much as a single petal of a single flower for granted.’

Serhii Plokhy

Book: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson 

Quote: ‘Don’t sabotage yourself. There are plenty of other people willing to do that for free.’

Ahlam Bolooki, Festival Director (Emirates Airline Festival of Literature) 

ahlam bolooki Emirates Literature Festival

Book: Broken by Jenny Lawson

I have found Jenny Lawson’s latest book, Broken, in the best possible way very uplifting and life-affirming in spite of its darkness. It works as a wonderful reminder that we are all fighting our own battles, and that we cannot and must not judge. Not other people and not ourselves. The book is full of wonderful quotes, but one that I like is this:

Quote: ‘Forgive yourself. For being broken. For being you. For thinking those are things that you need forgiveness for.” Another one is: “Becoming your own friend means taking care of yourself the way you would someone that you love. And that’s hard. But it is necessary.’

But you could open the book on any page and find a nugget of relatable wisdom.

Andrea Gissdal, Head of Marketing & Communications (Emirates Literature Foundation)

I might be stretching the traditional definition of a feel-good read, but I would say…

Book: Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.

It is not a lightweight read, as it explores trauma, racism and identity, but the author has written it with so much compassion for the characters that it is actually gently uplifting. Brit Bennett has a wonderful way with words and each character has a distinctive voice. Many of the memorable lines in the book are about loneliness and identity. Here is a small selection..

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Quote: ‘She hadn’t realized how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you.’

‘People thought that being one of a kind made you special. No, it just made you lonely. What was special was belonging with someone else.’

‘She didn’t plan how she would leave her sister, how she would settle in a new city on her own. For the first time in her life, she didn’t worry about any of the practical details when she told Blake Sanders yes. The hardest part about becoming someone else was deciding to. The rest was only logistics.’

The full list of authors and more information about the Emirates Literature Foundation can be found here.

Want to attend? Tickets are available here, starting from Dhs40 for children’s sessions and Dhs65 for adult’s sessions.