Listen to the new BBC Sounds Podcast: ‘Books to Live By’ – Mariella and Carlos Acosta

Click here to listen to Carlos Acosta

Travelling by train to Somerset, Mariella visits Carlos Acosta in his secluded woodland home. Managing to sneak away from his children, the two of them settle down to discuss his books to live by.

From the first book he ever read at 25 years old (following a tough childhood in Havana that excluded reading) to the books he himself has gone on to author, Carlos details his extraordinary life story and the role that reading has played throughout it.

Through his choices learn how his tough, truck driving father decided Carlos was to take up ballet, sending him away to a boarding school where he misbehaved. Discover how he used reading and writing as therapy upon first moving to London to join the Royal Ballet, going on to pen an autobiography and novel. Hear the story of how he met and pursued his now wife, and the romantic tale that she gifted him once they married, and also unearth the book he’d now recommend to anyone starting a career like his.

Interestingly, the pair detect a lost, lonely, sad boy as a reoccurring character in many of Carlos’ book choices. Now the Director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, he reflects on his fascinating rise to ballet super stardom, detailing the pain he’s encountered on the way to the top.

The book that …

Was his first ever read: ‘Catcher in the Rye’ by J. D. Salinger, 1951
Was therapy to write and he’d leave for his children: ‘No Way Home: A Cuban Dancer’s Story’ by Carlos Acosta, 2008
Was a gift from his wife: ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’, by Audrey Niffenegger, 2003
He loves to read aloud to his children: ‘James and the Giant Peach’ by Roald Dahl, 1961
He’s read more than once: ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell, 1945
Made him cry: ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini, 2003
He’d recommend to anyone starting a career like his: ‘Perpetual Motion: The Public and Private Lives of Rudolf Nureyev’ by Otis Stuart, 1995

Presenter and Executive Producer: Mariella Frostrup
Producer: Sera Baker
Researcher: Judy Elliot
Music: Matt Clifford at Music and Voices
TBI Media Production for BBC Sounds

Click here to listen to all six episodes of the podcast!

Previously on OPEN BOOK!