Sunday with Samira Ahmed: ‘I usually have five or six books on the go’
Sunday morning? I make a pot of coffee when I wake at 6am, then get back into bed and spend two hours reading. I started doing it in lockdown and have never been happier: why wait to do the thing you love most in the world?
What are you reading? I usually have five or six on the go. Right now, it’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; My Seditious Heart by Arundhati Roy; Albert Camus. You must read Set the Night on Fire by Mike Davis and Jon Wiener –an epic history of protest in Los Angeles. You can read just a single chapter from each and be transported between so many places.
A busy day? My kids have gone to university now, so we do a WhatsApp video call on Sunday lunchtime. It’s funny, since they left, I’ve lost interest in certain things and don’t crave company. I just listen to records, read the papers and watch films. I’ve adjusted to it all quite well, I think.
Do you exercise? Early evening, I take a swim in my gym’s outdoor pool. I try to get there daily. It’s heated – I’m not one of those hardy wild swimmers. At dusk I often have the place to myself. It’s the only exercise I can do, and I adore it.
What’s for dinner? My mother lives up the road and is an amazing cook. Eating Sunday dinner together (well, her feeding me) is our ritual. Food is how Mum shows her love and always has been. Unable to eat together in lockdown, she’d make me a weekly takeaway. I’d arrive at her doorstep to collect my pile of containers.
And Sunday night? I listen to Newshour on the World Service. It gives a measured, international perspective. I mostly restrict my access to broadcast news; I’ve left behind the aggressive way most of it operates. It’s not constructive; it’s endless noise. I’m writing a book about the culture wars, so I need that distance.