Desert Island Lit | Episode 1 (Ria Amber Tesia)

Ria Amber Tesia

Ria is an author, blogger, journalist, and food critic. An all rounded individual, she works in marketing and has a passion for literature, cooking, and political PR.

Welcome to the first ever Desert Island Lit!

In this series, I ask my guests to pick five – and only five – books to take with them to the Island of Absurdia. A solitary island where one whiles away their days in joyful isolation, accompanied only by their favourite literature! 

I’m absolutely thrilled to begin this brand new feature with Ria Amber Tesia – an author, journalist, food critic, and now a good friend. We first met on LinkedIn as fellow marketeers and realised we had an absolute shedload in common – not least our passion for literature!

Ria published her debut novel, Screaming Snowflakes, in 2012 and is currently working on a sequel. You can find out more about her literary and culinary pursuits at riaambertesia.com.

Let’s begin…

Ria's Journey to The Islands of Absurdia...

Ria has been swept away on an existential tide and finds herself in solitary confinement on the Isle of Absurdia.

And because we’re on the Isle of Absurdia, our esteemed guest will receive a copy of The Myth of Sisyphus and a luxury item of their choice – in this case being her prized Vivienne Westwood gladiator platform sandals!

Desert Island Lit Picks

1) A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

a little princess burnett book cover

This is my favourite book of all time.

I first came across this book aged 10 years old, when I was a precocious young ‘un, and always keen to read and learn more about a different time. I knew it was special right off the bat when I got sucked into the narrative, within minutes of reading.

I really identified with the imaginative and strong Sara Crewe, because she was a role model for me. It’s that misconception that being an analytical creative is an oxymoron, because you surely can’t be both, right? Growing up, you were either into sciences or the creative subjects like English Literature, drama and writing.

Sara Crewe gave me hope that I can be both and embrace both aspects – that of being analytical and creative – to become an awesome human being.

This is the oldest book on my bookshelf. The battered paperback looks out of place, but not having it on the bookshelf is non-negotiable. I must have read the book at least 100 times and here’s to another 100 times.

2) Asma’s Indian Kitchen by Asma Khan

I had to buy this book two years’ ago when I came across Asma’s cooking whilst she was doing a food demo on a cooking show on TV. She is the founder and vivacious proprietor of Darjeeling Express, one of London’s finest restaurants.

I remember thinking “Wow, who is this bird whose passion for food is so infectious, that it makes me want to drop everything and start a cookalong with her?” Her cookbook is accessible, beautiful and doubles up as a coffee table book.

I love cooking. Whenever I want a cooking ‘jhzuzz’, if I don’t really know what to cook during my weekly meal-planning Saturday evening session, then Asma’s book is one of the first that I read.

I must have picked up and read, and cooked from Asma’s book around 30+ times, and I am now at that stage where I can cook some of her recipes without referring to her book.

Result!

3) The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

I read this book last year because it seemed to be everywhere.

Psychological thrillers are one of my favourite genres, and this one didn’t disappoint. It is one of those rare books, that despite knowing the ending, I have gone to reread. It is expertly written, and perfectly ratchets up the tension so subtly, it really hits you over the head when you do get the nuances.

This is possibly a book that rivals The Sixth Sense in terms of shock ending. Characters are well drawn out, and the people you rooted for at the beginning, completely do a 180 so that your allegiances and loyalty also switch. A very clever, taut plot that will keep you hooked, which is why this book should be studied in syllabuses across the world, because it really is a masterpiece.

It is always a little tricky trying to expound the plot of a thriller, without giving too much away. Suffice to say, the author lures you in, holds you hostage to your emotions, then delivers that killer sweet release. A must read.

4) Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie

This is my first book by this author, which is when I fell in love with Hercule Poirot and her Agatha Christie’s writing. Hercule Poirot was also my first literary crush, it’s all about “those little grey cells”.

I discovered Poirot at primary school, I must have been around 11 years old. The way the characters just leapt off the page into fully formed, 3D characters, felt like magic.

I’ve read this book a few times, and I always try to catch the TV dramatisation whenever it airs, because the TV adaptation is really loyal to the book. I do love Agatha Christie’s writing, it feels like an old soul is writing about old, bygone times, and I really love this.

This book reminds me of childhood and the joy of discovering new authors and new writing. I think the book strikes a chord with me, because I also love history (why didn’t I study it at uni?!).

5) The Blair Years: The Alastair Campbell Diaries

I have always been intrigued by political PR, an interest which has matured and continues to do so, this past decade.

This book by Alastair Campbell casts a light on the inner workings of a political mind and office, and gives me a greater understanding behind the decision-making process of optics and policy.

Campbell is a divisive figure, yet his books are informative and entertain. I loved reading about the instances that really got behind the scenes of a lean, mean, political PR machine. I found the long running feud between Peter Mandelson and Gordon Brown jaw-dropping to discover.

To learn more about key players of that time who strode the corridors of power is nothing short of fascinating. This book continues to inform and entertain, 14 years after publication.

A massive thank you to Ria for taking part in this debut edition of
Desert Island Lit! 
And if you’d like to know more about this episode’s guest, do check out her social channels below.