Our book recommendations from 2021
In what has been another challenging year for many, there has been no shortage of excellent things to read to help us push through.
Below is a selection of our favourite pieces that kept us going this year.
Wishing you a fulfilling and inspiring new year!
Recommended by Patricia Kingori
Of course James Baldwin is a genius so picking this book was easy. I think that the book shows really well how race and sexuality have always been intertwined. The thing that I found the most interesting was the way in which Baldwin shows that in trying to suppress his sexuality the main character leaves this trail of destruction and how any exercise of oppression of ourselves is doomed to failure for the individual and those around them.
Recommended by Ngunan Adamu
This book got me through lockdown and helped me realise my full potential. When all we were seeing were Black trauma, I needed something that would give me that extra boost to do better and fight strategic, and it did just that.
Gabriela Cabezón Cámara
Recommended by Farrah Nazir
This translated novel was shortlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize, and it’s easy to see why! In the depths of lockdown 2021, I was completely transported across the Pampas with China and Liz in their wagon, whose adventure together explores everything from gender, sexuality, postcolonial ‘progress’, nature, and magic mushrooms.
Recommended by Teresa Cisneros
A book exploring our relationship to love, not romantic love but deep, soulful love. Bell explores the topic from the personal, to the familial, to the social. This book challenges the reader to rethink how we perceive love to be, and how we enact it. I especially enjoyed the area on service as mutual love.
Recommended by Fon Browndy
This is a thoughtful piece of work that addresses black childhood, parenthood, relationships etc. and requires reflection and journaling after each chapter to help break up the difficult subject matter. Using the word ‘trauma’ is powerful and in a weird way empowering validation that so many experiences black people have endured are not acceptable and we need to keep talking about it and taking steps to counteract racism and protect ourselves.
Recommended by Zara Bartels
It gave me all the feels, written from a very accessible and relatable place. A proper British voice. The origin story of the work going viral and then silent is representative of our cultural zeitgeist. And one of the first books from Stormzy’s Penguin imprint - Merky Books
Recommended by Shomari Lewis-Wilson
I have been a fan of Olusoga’s journalism for the Guardian and the Observer. This book charts the overlooked history of Black citizens in the UK reaching right back into ancient history and up to the modern day. This book dispels the myth that Black and brown migration to the UK is a 20th century phenomenon. We are here because the empire was there.
Recommended by Jenny Oppenheimer
This is a vibrant and sometimes funny book, written using a healthy helping of Trinidadian dialogue and colloquialism. It is an authentic voice full of wisdom, survival, loneliness and triumph. As the title suggests, it’s all about love, who we love, the different types of love and the repercussions of loving. Weaving through the tale is the tapestry of issues that speaks of power and powerlessness - domestic violence, sexuality, immigrant status and belonging.