BBC newsreader and journalist, who is currently a presenter on Radio 4’s Today programme, picks five of her favourite reads

The Parting of Ways, A Personal Account of the Thirties, Shiela Grant Duff
The memoir of an extraordinary woman, born in 1913, which she calls ‘the story of my youth, a time entirely encompassed by two world wars.’ Shiela was rejected for foreign correspondent jobs on the basis of being a woman but went off and did it anyway. Her spirit and determination to play a positive role in turbulent times reminds me of my grandparents, who lived in the same period in India and saw the birth of Pakistan.

In the Eye of the Sun, Ahdaf Soueif
A majestic novel that had a big impact on me when I first read it in the 1990s. It is a coming-of-age story and family saga that takes the reader from 1960s Egypt through the next decade, with the protagonist Asya moving physically – and emotionally – between East and West.

Selected Poems, Louis MacNeice
My copy of this is yellowed with age but every time I dip into it I find something new. The poems are about places and seasons, love and journeys: ‘summer is going south as I go north/Bound for the dead leaves falling, the burning bonfire/The dying that brings forth/The harder life, revealing the trees’ girders’

The Fifty Years War – Israel and the Arabs, Ahron Bergman and Jihan El-Tahri
This book accompanied the 1998 BBC TV series of the same name (currently available again to watch on the iplayer) and even though much has happened since, it remains valuable as a rare example of a historical collaboration between an Israeli and an Arab writer.

In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, Daniyal Mueenuddin
A series of connected stories that paints an evocative picture of Pakistani society. The characters are connected and it has an ‘upstairs-downstairs’ element because we see privileged life as well as household staff. Keenly observed and captivating.

Broadcaster Mishal Husain’s Broken Threads: My Family From Empire to Independence is published by Fourth Estate on June 6th 2024