Sophie Roell is editor and one of the founders of Five Books. Previously she worked as a journalist in London, Beijing, Shanghai and New York. As a financial reporter, she covered the early years of the Chinese stock markets and the transition of its economy after Deng Xiaoping’s 1992 tour of the south. She reported on the North Korean economy in 2001.
She studied modern history as an undergraduate at Oxford and, after travelling the world as a reporter for five years, took the Master’s in Regional Studies-East Asia at Harvard University. This wonderfully flexible program insists on at least one East Asian language and some courses on East Asia, but leaves plenty of room to roam about the university taking courses on random subjects.
It was hard to go back to a proper job after that and Five Books, set up in 2009, is her attempt to be a grad student forever (without the stress of having to write a PhD).
Interviews with Sophie Roell
Be Like the Fox: Machiavelli's Lifelong Quest for Freedom
by Erica Benner
Talk on the Wild Side: The Untameable Nature of Language
by Lane Greene
Beyond the Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Sagas
by Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough
Haig's Enemy: Crown Prince Rupprecht and Germany's War on the Western Front
by Jonathan Boff
Ottoman Odyssey: Travels through a Lost Empire
by Alev Scott
It goes without saying that I have more than five favourite books and some important ones are missing from this page (even though I've cheated and included six). I suppose the nonfiction ones are books that opened doors for me in some way or enabled me to see the world more clearly, including professionally. The fiction ones are ones I was completely overexcited about when I read them.