Black History Month 2022: Reflections and Reviews

October may feel like a lifetime ago (especially as we hurtle through the final months of the year) and as we had so much going on for Black History Month we’re providing you with a recap and reflection on how Library and Learning Services celebrated:

  • We updated our specially curated reading list, featuring new additions to our collection, with a spotlight on Nigerian Stories and Authors.
  • Our display in the Reading for Pleasure collection on the ground floor of Catalyst complimented this as we selected some books from the list to showcase.
  • On both the list and the display, Olympic athlete Anyika Onuora’s memoir, ‘My Hidden Race’ was a focal point, as she was welcomed to the University to share her story.
  • We added her book to our collection for staff and students to borrow and learn more about her life. You can view its availability and location here if you’d like to check it out.
  • Professionally, we also welcomed colleagues from the Association of University Librarians of Nigerian Universities (AULNU) on campus, to exchange knowledge with ourselves. We certainly learnt a lot and it was wonderful experience to host colleagues from Nigeria.

Amongst all this activity, we still found time to read lots of books! So, in this blog, we would like to share some of our favourite books and reviews!

13 individuals are standing, smiling, in a staged photograph taken in the Catalyst rooftop garden.
colleagues from the Association of University Librarians of Nigerian Universities (AULNU) enjoying the Catalyst rooftop garden

Book Reviews

All the books reviewed here are available in Catalyst and can be found on the Black History Month reading list. Don’t forget if items are out on loan you can place a reservation so you’re next in the queue to borrow.

If you prefer eBooks or audiobooks then you’ll enjoy our OverDrive collection too. You can access these items via your browser or, for ease, you can install the Libby app to your device and access that way.

If you’re after some reading inspiration, then this blog is a good place to start….

A screenshot of four book covers. From left to right, the titles and authors are, Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Don't Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri. The Water Dancer is in audiobook format whereas the others are in eBook format. All are shown as available to borrow.
some of the titles available via OverDrive on the Libby app

The Girl with the Louding Voice – Abi Dare

“This was one of the best books I have read so far this year. I was totally mesmerised and captivated by the wonderful protagonist Adunni. Despite her frightful circumstances and lack of agency in her own life, I was totally inspired by her vibrant personality, spirit of hope, and refusal to let life get her down.

The way she overcame adversity, found her own voice and used humour and her spirited nature to her advantage throughout the novel was captivating.

This novel is a must read!”

Reviewed by Helen, Head of Student Engagement

My Sister the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite

“Loved the dark humour that comes from the dysfunctional relationship of the two sisters.  Would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quirky quick read!”

A book is held up with books on shelves visible in the background. The front cover of the book features green writing that reads, My Sister the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite, behind which is an image of a black woman wearing a headscarf and round red tinted sunglasses.

Reviewed by Cristina, Business Planning Manager

“Thoroughly enjoyed this dark comedic book. Sibling relationships can be fraught with psychological difficulty. Most people unconditionally love their siblings and excuse transgressions that one would not forgive a mere friend.

A highly dysfunctional family where Korede needs to protect her beloved younger sister Ayoola from unthinkable horrors, and this protection becomes the core of her identity. Under the guise of protection, Korede seemingly enables rather than prevents Ayoola’s lethal hobby.

I would recommend this book for someone looking for something different than a happily ever after archetypal hero/heroine story, that manages to introduce exceedingly heavy topics, whilst keeping the narrative light and readable.”

Reviewed by Paula, Student Advisor

Friday Black – Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

“Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s debut short fiction collection, Friday Black, is topical, (and so, with the world being what it is today, disturbing) insightful, funny, tragic, and true. All that in one book – that’s why Adjei-Brenyah is one of the best contemporary short story writers you can pick up today.

Many of his stories explore speculative concepts which comment on social phenomenon – one such concept is at the centre of ‘Friday Black’, the eponymous story which examines commercial events such as Black Friday and Boxing Day sales. In it, shoppers are depicted as crazed vampiric creatures, who claw and tear at desirable products and store clerks alike. Some do so in the name of greed, others because gifting a rare item with a hefty price tag is the only way they know how to say, “I love you”. ‘Friday Black’ is a story full of carnage, and it is told by a burnt-out store clerk who is aptly critical of a commercial practice which has lead shoppers and staff alike to be trampled to death without the swarm so much as looking back.

Adjei-Brenyah is also a writer who can skilfully weave representations of today’s political landscape with emotive, character-driven moments which reflect it. ‘The Finkelstein 5’ portrays the disregard for black life that poisons the justice systems of so many nations when a white man walks free after beheading five innocent black schoolchildren with a chainsaw. When protagonist Emmanuel is accused of stealing as a child, he burns the pair of baggy jeans he was wearing whilst his father watches. The scene is full of sadness, as both characters know that this is Emmanuel’s first hard lesson about his identity.

If you can choose only one writer to pick up next, make sure it is Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. His prose is razor sharp and his insights are also. Next year, Adjei-Brenyah will release his debut novel, Chain-Gang All-Stars, and I for one can’t wait to get hold of it.”

Reviewed by Eoin, Student Advisor

What next?

We hope that you’ve been inspired by this blog to check out the Black History Month reading list and borrow some of the resources on offer! Whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction there are a wide variety of titles available to explore.

We’d love to hear from you if you’ve enjoyed any of the books in the collection! Why not find us on Twitter or Instagram and let us know how you get on?

If there’s a book that you want to see in the Reading for Pleasure collection then please fill in a suggestion slip so that we can consider this. These can be found on the ground floor of Catalyst.