Dolly Alderton: My Life In Books


Fans of the High Low Podcast will be all too familiar with one half of the duo, Dolly Alderton. Readers of The Times will be too, and Grazia, and Red Magazine, and Man Repeller... the journalist, writer, director and author of a new novel all about love has a lot of strings to her bow. Known for her passion for reading, we sat down with Dolly to get all her best recommendations…

What are you reading right now?

Tiny Ladies In Shiny Pants: a selection of essays by my hero Jill Soloway. Her section on what she's learnt from studying celebrities is sublimely observed. 

What book from childhood will always stay with you?

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott.

When and where do you read?

When people are late instead of me – a rare and heavenly treat. Before bed. On the bus or tube when I'm not doing my make-up in a rush. My favourite place to read is under a very specific tree on Hampstead Heath on a Saturday afternoon. 

Where do you buy books?

Second-hand on Amazon or in Daunt Hampstead or Belsize Park, where I normally spend unnecessary money on postcards and photographs of The Heath that I pick up by the till. 

Print of Kindle?

Print! I love having copies of the book I read originally. I turn over pages and underline sentences that I can revisit or, even better, shamelessly quote to beef out future articles. I get very attached to copies of books. I write my initials in the front and everything. I would be far happier with a friend borrowing a dress and never giving it back over a book. 

How do you choose what to read?

Through recommendations from friends. Or I like reading what my favourite writers read, much like I like listening to what my favourite bands listen to. 

What's been your favourite read of 2017 so far?

I've read some beautiful and powerful books this year. The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levey, Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo Lodge, Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney, The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, The Outrun by Amy Liptrot. 

Favourite biography?

I love memoirs so I have a bunch. Clothes Clothes Clothes, Music Music Music, Boys Boys Boys by Viv Albertine, Faithfull by Marianne Faithfull, Rod by Rod Stewart, The Moon's A Balloon by David Niven, Starstruck by Cosmo Landesman, Reed All About Me by Oliver Reed. Pour Me by A.A. Gill. 

Do you have a go-to comfort read? 

Heartburn by Nora Ephron, The Girls Guide To Hunting And Fishing by Melissa Bank, Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin, My Life On A Plate by India Knight.

Any guilty pleasures?

I lie in bed reading cook books cover to cover like they're fiction. 

What book would you give as a gift?

I think I've given every single one of my friends a copy of I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron at one point or another. 

What was the last book that made you cry?

The Wild Other, by Clover Stroud. An astonishing book about loss, love, darkness, pain, sex and adventure. I adore it.

Any recommendations for laugh out loud books?

Don't Be A Dick, Pete by Stuart Heritage made me laugh out loud. As did The Incomplete Tim Key, The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer and 700 Sundays by Billy Crystal.

Are there any books that have helped you through difficult times?

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. Good Girls Do Swallow by Rachel Oakes-Ash. Both have helped me through difficult personal battles and I give them to people whenever I’m aware they're going through similar difficulties. 

Favourite literary character?

Jo March (from Little Women), naturally. 

Favourite book?

Any Human Heart by William Boyd. Nothing I've ever read has explored the human condition and captured the movement and shape of a human life so thoroughly. 

What one book should everyone read in their lifetime?

Money by Martin Amis, because I've never felt like a book took me on such a cinematic, sensory, epic journey and the story is crafted so meticulously. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. The Colour Purple by Alice Walker – nestled in there is the original mindfulness theory without such a name. I found it a hugely enlightening read when I was a teenager – it taught me a lot about how to see the world and the reasons why we're here. 

Do you read poetry?

Yes, my favourite poets are John Betjeman, E.E. Cummings, Wendy Cope, Elizabeth Bishop, Philip Larkin and Dorothy Parker for some good, tasty pith. 

What can you tell us about your new book?

It's a memoir spanning the last decade of my life; telling stories of all sorts of great, short-lived, long-lived, unrequited, lost and life-changing love I've encountered along the way. Spoiler: only a fraction of it is romantic.PO

Pre-order Dolly's first novel 'Everything I Know About Love' here.

The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo, by Amy Schumer, £3.85
700 Sundays, by Billy Crystal, £11.65
Any Human Heart, by William Boyd, £6.99
Conversations With Friends, by Sally Rooney, £10.49
Don't Be A Dick Pete, by Stuart Heritage, £9.09
Everything I Know About Love, by Dolly Alderton, £12.99 
Faithfull: An Autobiography, by Marianne Faithfull, £11.74
Good Girls Do Swallow, by Rachael Oakes-Ash, £6.93
Heart Burn, by Nora Ephron, £7.99
Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin, £12.99
I Feel Bad ABout My Neck, by Nora Ephron, £7.99
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott , £5.99
London Fields, by Martin Amis, £8.99
My Life On A Plate, by India Knight, £11.09
Pour Me: A Life, by  AA.Gill, £6.29
Reasons To Stay Alive, by Matt Haig, £5.19
Rod: The Autobiography, Rod Stewart, £5.99
Starstruck: Fame, Failure, My Family And Me, by Cosmo Landesman, £14.99
The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson, £9.99
The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath, £6.29
The Colour Purple, by Alice Walker, £7.38
The Incomplete Tim Key, by Tim Key, £9.99
The Moon's A Balloon, by David Niven, £7.99
The Outrun, by Amy Liptrot, £8.99
The Rules Do Not Apply, by Ariel Levy, £11.89
The Wild Other: A Memoir, by Clover Stroud, £16.89
Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants, by Jill Soloway, £8.99

DISCLAIMER: We endeavour to always credit the correct original source of every image we use. If you think a credit may be incorrect, please contact us at