Paloma Faith is a singer, songwriter, actor and presenter, recently taking on an acting role in the Batman prequel series Pennyworth.
Here, Faith explores the best loved books of her life, which she would line up on her Fantasy Bookshelf. The performer discusses the novel which has changed the way she thinks, shares the villain she’d love to voice most and reveals the book she has a whole pile of in her living room.
Which book reminds you of your childhood?
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl. I remember loving the Little Red Riding one in particular because I thought it was so funny when it said she pulled the pistol from her knickers. I would ask my dad to read that line over and over again.
What book do you think every child should read growing up?
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and Horse by Charlie Mackesy. I bought six copies and now any kid who has a birthday, I just give it to them because I’ve got a pile of them in my living room.
That’s what all kids, to save the world, need to read because it’s about kindness. The first page is like, “What’s the bravest thing you could do?” and then it says, “Ask for help.” If you want to bring up a solid kid, read them that every night.
If you could narrate the voice of any character in an audiobook, who would you choose?
I would love to be Cruella de Ville in 101 Dalmatians.
Is there a book you’ve read that has changed your perspective of the world?
I think the biggest life changing book that I ever read, that really shifted the way that I think and my perspective on life, was Immortality by Milan Kundera. It’s all about existence.
I remember reading that and then it being a pivotal point in my coming of age. I was about 20 and I think I became more adult after reading it.
What was the most recent book you read and what did you think of it?
I just read Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. I loved it. I’ve never read such a beautiful description of love before. I found that really moving. If I was still courting, I’d give it to someone.
Is there a character you’ve played before that you can see aspects of yourself in?
I was always cast as a sort of publicly perceived version of myself. A giggly, bit jokey and slightly eccentric character. And then with Bet Sykes, [who Faith plays in the DC series, Pennyworth] I feel like I’ve had to delve into some darker corners of my past experiences to find that character.
I think that’s something that’s particularly changing in writing for women. For years most female roles were very one dimensional and a little bit boring. And I still today feel a bit jealous of male characters, not in this job, but I often read a script and I would prefer to play one of the men because I feel like it speaks to me more. Not because I’m manly per se, but because those characters often have more layers.
If you could star in an adaptation of any book brought to screen, which would you choose?
I’m a big fan of Miranda July and I’d love to play the female lead in The First Bad Man, which is a quite hilarious character. It’s about this woman who is single, living alone and she believes that she has a spiritual connection with a baby.
I just love her writing. It’s so awkward and uncomfortable and I thrive in that. It’s everything I want, it’s comedy, existentialism, fallibility, all very uncomfortable. I think that’s the perfect role for me.
Which book recommendation are you most thankful for?
My best recommendation ever is The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, a very good book.
If you could give everyone in the world one book to read, what would it be?
The Other Hand by Chris Cleave. It’s a book about a family who go on holiday and they meet somebody and they frivolously say, if you come to England, then you should call us. Then this person comes to England seeking asylum.
It’s a really brilliant, well observed, eye opening story about the disparity between the privilege of the Western world and what makes somebody become a refugee or an immigrant. It’s probably one of five books that I’ve really poured with tears reading.
What’s top of your to-read list?
Next on my list is Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams. It’s meant to be absolutely amazing.
Pennyworth: The Complete First Season is now available on Blu-ray and DVD – check out what else is on with our TV Guide
Read Paloma Faith’s Fantasy Bookshelf
- Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
- The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and Horse by Charlie Mackesy
- The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith
- Immortality by Milan Kundera
- Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
- The First Bad Man by Miranda July
- The Master and The Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
- The Other Hand by Chris Cleave
- Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams