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FINALLY...THE METHOD Do people lie down to read? I can’t imagine that. I always sit up, surrounded by pillows. And I’m a terrible scribbler. I underline things, comment in the margins, argue with the author. The level of desecration indicates how interesting I’ve found a book. I use a pencil or pen as a bookmark – that tells you how much I interact with the text.The booksREADING RIGHT NOWI always have several on the go. One is Anthony Lester’s timely Five Ideas to Fight For: How Our Freedom is Under Threat and Whyit Matters (Oneworld): human rights, equality, free speech, privacy and the rule of law. I’veSARA KHAN’Salso just started Politics: Between the Extremes by Nick Clegg (Bodley Head). I’ve always found Clegg interesting and the runningof the Coalition government fascinated me. The third book I’m reading is The Middle Pathof Moderation in Islam (Oxford University Press) by the Muslim scholar Mohammad Hashim Kamali, which challenges theological narratives about extremism from an Islamic perspective. I do occasionally read fiction, but my work is so fast-paced I have to keep up with latest research and arguments.COULDN’T PUT DOWNHas to be Brick Lane by MonicaAli (Black Swan). Publishedover a decade ago, it was quite revolutionary for its time – about an immigrant woman in an arranged marriage who falls for a political activist. I absolutely loved it! The fact that some people responded to it with threats of violence, book-burning and political demonstrations made me like it even more!GATHERING DUST One I have started many times is Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus by John Gray (HarperCollins). I bought it over 15 years ago, but still haven’t managed to get into it. I feel I ought to because I’m a feminist and people are always referring to it. But it’s never captured my imagination!CHANGED MY LIFE Tessof the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (Wordsworth Classics).I read it when I was about 12 and I cried for two days whenI finished reading it. There’sno doubt that it shaped my decision to work in women’s rights. Angel’s double standard with a woman’s chastity was so unfair. It was alright for him to have intimate relationships but when Tess was seduced – raped, actually – he couldn’t forgive her. Tess eventually faces capital punishment while Angel lives happily ever after! Those issues are just as pertinent today. ❐What we’re readingI’m hurtling towards the end ofa PhD in French, rereading most of my bibliography while I edit. My thesis explores eating and drinking in 18th Century fictions of sex work, so Erotic Exchanges: The World of EliteProstitution inEighteenth-CenturyParis,by NinaKushner,has becomea sort ofBible for me.It uncovers theclients, contracts, and wealthy and aspirational women who defined the sexual underworldof Enlightenment Paris. Hardcore scholarship, but a fantastic read. CATHERINE ELLISWhat we’re writingI’m currently in the late editing stages of my first feature film screenplay, which is based on the true story of aworld famous tennis player turnedWWII spy. She was a remarkable woman, and I hope todo her justice.This has also beenmy first experience working witha professional story developer, under the guidance of an experienced film producer, so the learning curve has been incredibly steep – but very, very rewarding. LAURA STEVENBEDSIDE TABLETHE TABLE There’s a matching pair we bought from Ikea 12 years ago – made of that pale wood they use at Ikea. Beech? Mine is covered with books, magazines, reports for work, a plethora of never-ending school letters – I have two children aged seven and ten. There’s also a lamp, a photo of myself and my husband, my mobile phone and a beautiful ornate miniature chest of drawers for my precious things like rings and watches.THE COSTUME I am very sensitive to heat, so wear something that keeps me cool in the summer. The rest of the time it’s good old pyjamas, the kind they sell for lounging around. I change into them at about eight in the evening.SARA KHAN is an award-winning British Muslim human rights activist and co-director of Inspire, a counter-extremism and women’s rights organisation, which she co-founded in 2008. She is author of The Battle for British Islam: Reclaiming Muslim Identityfrom Extremism (Saqi) and has written numerous comment pieces for magazinesand newspapers. In both 2015 and 2016 she was listed as one of the UK’s 500most influential people working towards peace and stability in Debrett’s War and Peace category. in 2015 BBC’s Woman’s Hour named her as one of the Top 10 most influential women. In 2016 she won an Asian Women of Achievement Award.mslexia Mar/Apr/May 2017 79

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