Michaela Coel reveals her 10 favorite books

One of the most celebrated British actors and screenwriters of contemporary cinema is Michaela Coel, an artist who is best known for creating the sitcom chewing gum and the comedy-drama I May Destroy You. Offering a peek behind the curtain of her inspiration from her, back in 2021, Coel named a selection of her favorite books from her.

It appears that Coel loves a bit of non-fiction as she selected Yuval Noah Harari’s 2015 book Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. She admits being drawn to the book’s subtitle, “having what I now understand was an existential crisis and spinning out of my mind,” and it helped her “understand that nobody really knows what’s going on.”

As for fiction, Coel admires the works of Cixin Liu, particularly The Three-Body Problem and The Dark Forest. Of the former, Coel said: “It totally helped me escape this planet. It’s not offering a utopian vision — the future it imagines is fucking terrifying — but it’s so rooted in science that it’s all very plausible.”

As for older fiction, Coel treasures Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Breakfast of Champions, which reminded her “of people who approach life like a video game, without consequence.” In fact, Coel added a Vonnegut homage in episode two of I May Destroy You.

Coel had been raised in London, so she feels a particular kinship with Couttia Newland’s Society Within. She said it was “the first book [she] read that was adjacent to the world in which [she] lived.” Prior to reading the book, Coel “didn’t realize that books in which [she] could recognize people from [her] own life could be written”.

And that inner-city life is also explored in another of Coel’s favourites, poor by Caleb Femi. Discussing the book, Coel said, “I’ve never read about life on a housing estate written with such beauty. Femi is a poet, and this is a combination of short stories and poems and photography. It’s about life for people in working-class London who are Black, so again it’s a book in which I saw myself.”

Check out the complete list of Michaela Coel’s favorite books below.

Michaela Coel’s favorite books:

  • Society Within –Courttia Newland
  • Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow –Yuval Noah Hariri
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck –Mark Manson
  • The Three-Body Problem –Cixin Liu
  • The Dark Forest –Cixin Liu
  • Flowers for Algernon –Daniel Keyes
  • Breakfast of Champions –Kurt Vonnegut
  • exhale –Ted Chiang
  • poor –Caleb Femi
  • The Book of Eels –Patrick Svensson

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