This week on the Women’s Prize podcast we delve into the bookshelves of Anna Whitehouse aka Mother Pukka – journalist, podcaster, broadcaster and co-author of three books including the instant Sunday Times bestseller Underbelly. A passionate parenting campaigner, Anna kick-started the hugely successful Flex Appeal campaign for flexible working, calling out sexism in the workplace (often through the medium of lively flash mob!).

Ever candid, Anna chats to host Vick Hope about everything from embracing the messy side of love to the orgasm gap, sharing the story of her inspiring life and career through five incredible books by women. Listen to the conversation in full here.

The Adventurous Four: Shipwrecked

by Enid Blyton

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‘Everyone’s heard of the Famous Five, right, but no one really talks about the Adventurous Four. My dad got me into them because he wanted to pioneer at the time – bear in mind this was the 80s – that little girls can get messy and dirty and muddy. He really encouraged me to get my hands dirty and be a girl in a way that felt right on my terms. And I think this is really anchored within this book.’

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

Sorrow and Bliss

by Meg Mason

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‘I felt seen … I had postnatal depression, and I was so highly functioning that no one could see it. Sorrow and Bliss encapsulates that complexity, not just in women, but in the human spirit, where we are sad and we are happy, and they can live side by side.’

My Thoughts Exactly

by Lily Allen

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‘There was a chapter in the book that hit really hard, and I couldn’t stop sobbing … I thought she wrote beautifully, openly, bravely. And she put down in writing what I’m trying to do across the board, which is stop pushing women out, but also stop pushing women forward in that vulnerable [postnatal] period of a woman’s life.’

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Three Women

by Lisa Taddeo

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‘I wanted to read a book that centred female pleasure … I interviewed an octogenarian sex booker, and she had read the book as well. And she said that it made her so happy to see and read the true grittiness of sex, whether it’s extramarital affairs or whether it’s voyeurism – the things we never talk about.’

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister, the Serial Killer

by Oyinkan Braithwaite

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‘My relationship with my sister is the most important female relationship I have … [This book] is about that sisterly love – of wanting to kill each other but loving each other deeply. It showed the dark depths of sisterly love.’

You won’t want to miss the full conversation, packed with reading inspiration and juicy anecdotes – including that night in Amsterdam when Anna attempted to write the antithesis to Eat Pray Love or Nosh Booze Bomb… We’d read that!

For more reading inspiration, have a browse through past episodes of the Women’s Prize podcast, with previous guests including Katherine Ryan, Minnie Driver and Scarlett Curtis.