This is the first post in what will hopefully become a series on my blog, where I give you a run-down of what I’ve read alongside my YA Fiction reads this month, and share my thoughts on what I’ve learnt.
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests around the world, many people, myself included, have made an increased effort to read more books tackling the topics of racism, race and privilege, and you’ll see that two of these books do so. I’ve made extensive use of my library’s online catalogue through the Libby app, and I’d really recommend that you have a gander as there’s a great selection of non-fiction reads on there.
Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch
I was first introduced to this book when I listened to an incredible lecture by the author through May’s Hay Festival Digital. Her views on journalism, coronavirus, and the pandemic’s impact on people of colour were very thought-provoking, so I had to have a look at her debut book.
Hirsch weaves vivid accounts of her own experiences as a biracial person in the UK grappling with identity with in-depth historical information. When she talks about tracing her roots in Ghana or growing up in affluent Wimbledon, her writing style brings descriptions of place and people to life with strong imagery and word choice. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy this book, but it was also a very interesting perspective on identity and race.
So You Want To Talk About Race? by Ijeoma Oluo
This book is a perfect starting point if you’re just beginning to do some research on race and racism. Addressing topics such as hair, privilege, microaggressions, intersectionality and the school-to-prison pipeline, to name a few, each chapter poses a different question. When she’s talking about an argument, she uses an example or comparison to help explain, which I thought added to the accessibility and clarity of the book.
The language in this book is really accessible – I borrowed the audiobook, which I’d recommend. The only thing I would say with an audiobook is that I couldn’t access the footnotes, which I find useful as starting points for further reading. Nevertheless, I learned a lot from this book, which I’ll be taking with me into future conversations.
The Little Book of Feminist Saints by Julia Pierpont, illustrated by Manjit Thapp
This book is packed with a diverse range of inspirational women, and a brief biography covering their background is accompanied by a beautiful illustration of the woman in question. Every woman is given an area to be a “matron saint” in; for example, Virginia Woolf is the “matron saint” of writers, while Nina Simone is the “matron saint” of soul. This is a really unique idea, showcasing household names as well as women who should be more widely known – a contrast to the male-dominated curriculums and textbooks that we see so often. I find that this kind of book is a perfect way to find further reading – I’ve been jotting down names of people that I’d like to follow up on, and I’m looking forward to reading some of their work.
This has been a strong month for me on the non-fiction front, and the wonderful thing about this side of literature is that the more you learn, the more you realise there is to learn, and to learn about. I’m looking forward to discussing July’s reads with you soon!