Black History Month Books
Black History Month is a chance to recognise and celebrate the incredible contributions of Black people across all spheres of our lives.
Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, we can learn a lot from the perspectives of others. Read on to find out what books inspire our staff at LUU.
Home Going - Yaa Gyasi
Spanning centuries and continents, the novel follows 2 families, one from the slave trading Fante nation and another from the Asante warrior nation. It's split into different portraits and follows the generations and their intertwining stories. An amazing and inspirational read.
Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
The history behind her and the novel is so amazing and one of the most famous to come out of the Harlem Renaissance era of Black creativity in America. This book is taught in English high school classes throughout America (like Lord of the Flies is here) after a campaign by Alice Walker (author of The Color Purple) to make Zora’s work more widely known.
The Colour Purple - Alice Walker
It follows the life of a black southern woman in America during the early 1900s. It explores themes of black womanhood, sexuality, queerness, domestic violence and self-empowerment. Beautifully written, mind opening and life changing.
Naomi, Help & Support
Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of the Empire - Akala
Antonia lent me this book around this time last year. It’s a fantastic read and I learnt so much about British History that my A level and GCSE history classes had never even touched upon! Akala is a fantastic speaker too and I’d really recommend checking out some of his interviews if reading isn’t your thing.
Courtney, People Team
Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
This book enables me because it tells the story of home for me, of kinship and community and the importance of holding on to it. Regardless of the changes in your environment and the challenges it faces. The vivid description of the world at the time and the interpolation of Ibo in throughout the book really keeps it grounded. Giving a real sense of where you are and serving to immerse you in a culture and a way of life. I would recommend this book for anyone who is a fan of great literature and wants to see the effects of change from a different perspective.
Ways of Dying - Zakes Mda
(Trigger warning: extreme violence, racism, child death)
Mda's Ways of Dying is a short, magical realist novel set in an unnamed South African city in the 1990s. It follows Toloki, a professional mourner, and his childhood friend Noria, as they navigate the complexities of living in a newly free country, look back on its violent and traumatic past, and navigate the many ways of living, dying, and finding hope. The book gives insight into some incredibly difficult moments in South African history, and helps its readers to reflect on and process these traumas.
Becoming - Michell Obama
I picked this book up recently and I am excited to read it. She comes across with grace and strength and is a really inspiring female leader.
Harpreet, People Team
NW - Zadie Smith
Amrita, Help & Support
Girl, Woman, Other - Bernardine Evaristo
Mr Loverman - Bernardine Evaristo
Amrita, Help & Support
Song for Night - Chris Abani
Really beautiful, culturally and spiritually rich novella from Nigerian author Chris Abani. Based during the Nigerian civil war and focusing on a child soldier who is separated from his platoon, 15-year old My Luck has to make his way through the brutal landscape of war to find them. Abani is a great writer with a lot of integrity and purpose in his words. His other book GraceLand is also a good read.
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr - edited by Clayborne Carson
What I love about this book is that there are so many articles, speeches, letters and papers included written by Martin Luther King Jr himself. It is a great book for anyone who wants to learn more about the world famous leader and the history he was involved in changing.
Rachel, People Team
Citizen: An American Lyric - Claudia Rankine
(Trigger warning; violence, racism and hate crime)
Claudia Rankine's Citizen is a powerful reflection on race and citizenship in America. The book consists of many forms of writing and art - essays, poems, photography and visual art, and even video art that you can download and watch. I found this work - both the medium and the content - to be powerful, moving, and illuminating. It is one of the best and most impactful books I have ever read, and it left me knowing that I have so much more yet to learn.
All About Love - bell hooks
Such a wonderful and affirming book about the simplicity and complexity of love. How we should give it, how we should receive it and what cultural barriers stand in the way of this are all discussed, framed in anecdotal and psychological/philosophical prose. A great, short and simple read (but I recommend her whole body of work).