x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Desert island books: Aimee Mullins

The actress-model-athlete shares her desert island books with us.

"Fiesta at Rick's" by Rick Bayless.
"Fiesta at Rick's" by Rick Bayless.

When she was born, Aimee Mullins's medical prognosis was bleak. She was without fibulae in both legs, and her parents were told she would never walk. In an attempt to encourage her to move independently using prosthetic limbs, doctors amputated both her legs below the knee. Now 35, Aimee Mullins has an outstanding list of achievements to her name. She has become an actress, a model, the youngest person ever, at the age of 17, to hold a top-secret security clearance at the Pentagon and, perhaps most incredibly, a successful athlete. With the help of Frank Gagliano, one of the US's most respected track coaches, she became the first amputee in history, male or female, to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) while studying at Georgetown University. Fitted with woven carbon-fibre prostheses that were modelled on the hind legs of a cheetah, she went on to set world records in the 100 metre, the 200 metre and the long jump, competing against able-bodied athletes.

She has been named one of the most beautiful people in the world by People, and she has recently been named as a new face of L'Oréal Paris with her first beauty campaign launching at the end of the year. Her screen career includes highly acclaimed performances as five different characters in the artist Matthew Barney's epic Cremaster 3, and she is continuing her collaboration with him in the upcoming film Khu. She shares her Desert Island Books with Jemma Nicholls.


The Art of Looking Sideways

by Alan Fletcher

One of my inexhaustible favourites. A beautifully-designed and witty guide to visual awareness, Fletcher himself describes this tome as "a journey without a destination," and I think that's a perfect mindset to accompany any lengthy island stay. One of my favorite pages is a list of amazing facts about the trunk of an elephant, all written out in the writhing shape of the trunk of an elephant. Another is a humorous painting of "Ireland - as seen from Wales".


The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook

by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht

Because it provides a quick study guide to doing important things like how to escape from quicksand, wrestle an alligator, land a plane, how to escape from a mountain lion and how to win a sword fight. The latter is crucial knowledge if you're sharing the island with pirates.


Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell

One of my favourite childhood books which I took out of the library again and again. Most people associate scary things with Halloween, but I love to be frightened by old ghost stories all year round. With this book in particular, I usually had to put it outside my bedroom door before I could go to sleep, as the illustrations were that deliciously creepy. I recently bought this book and its two sequels online, and was delighted to find that the illustrations still held up over the years.


Fiesta at Rick's

by Rick Bayless

As he is one of the premier chefs in North America, I love Rick Bayless's passion for authentic Mexican flavours, and this book gives anyone who loves food and cooking (me! me!) plenty of mirage material for imaginary feasts. Particularly useful is the recipe on page 66 for Horchata de Almendra, a cool and creamy almond-rice drink with coconut milk. Yum.


The Complete Pelican Shakespeare

General editors Stephen Orgel and AR Braunmuller

What could be more perfect for a desert island than many books compiled into one gorgeous volume? Inspiration awaits, dear desert reader, within Viola's tale of shipwrecked adventure in Twelfth Night, as well as Prospero's command over the island elements and Ariel's heartbreaking obedience in The Tempest. This hefty hardcover also doubles as a nice weight to do arm exercises, necessary for climbing palm trees to grab those hydrating coconuts.


Tamara de Lempicka

by Alain Blondel and Ingried Brugger

Wonderful daydreaming material. Sometimes we just need a book with beautiful images to flip through and get lost in the curvature of the painter's lines. I'm always up for an indulgent perusal of the baroness's take on the 1920's glamour set.


Aimee Mullins is one of the members of the New Horizons Jury at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. She will be in Abu Dhabi from October 13th until the 22nd. She will appear on the red carpet on October 13th and October 21st.