1. No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference by Greta Thunberg

What's it about? 16-year-old schoolgirl and climate activist Greta Thunberg has single-handedly altered the discourse on the climate crisis. In one year she has raised more awareness for the ecological disaster we are all hurtling towards than any politician or world leader in decades. This little book features a collection of her most impactful and powerful speeches, speeches which sparked a global wave of school strikes and made headlines across the world. These speeches have brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion and I firmly believe Greta’s words should be read by everyone regardless of age, ethnicity or social standing, because this crisis is, it time, going to affect us all. No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference will teach you that you really can make a difference – you just need to stand up and make your voice heard.

My favourite quote. "So everyone out there: it is now time for civil disobedience. It is time to rebel."

My three word review. Crucial, urgent, devastating.

Donna, website team
 

2. Surge by Jay Bernard

What's it about? This collection from award-winning poet Jay Bernard – written when they were resident at the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton unearthing records from the New Cross Fire of 1981 – draws tighter the gap between past and present, drawing continuous lines of grief inherited and repeated across generations. The flames of New Cross and Grenfell tangle around each other, illuminating the inevitability of state violence against the vulnerable. This is a collection densely peopled, by mothers and fathers rendered unrecognisable by grief, by bodies thrown from windows, by throngs marching for action, and by the faceless indifference of authority. It carries within it a political and artistic legacy from poets like Linton Kwesi Johnson, woven in with a voice unmistakably from today’s South London. A beautiful and astonishing first collection.

My favourite quote. 

"cold

thirsts at the bones

he doesn’t see me standing there he doesn’t hear me speak an officer circles the front yard leaning back to see the smoke."

My three word review. Passionate, fearless, astute.

Zainab, campaigns team
 

3. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

What’s it about? Following his award-winning poetry collection Night Sky With Exit Wounds, Ocean Vuong is back with his first novel. When a poet turns author, one can expect beautifully lyrical writing and On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous certainly gives us that. Written as a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read, the story unearths a family’s history – from their roots in Vietnam to everything that transpires afterwards, all of which leads up to an unforgettable revelation. As I’ve already mentioned, the writing is – to take a word from the title – gorgeous, and it’s particularly brilliant on the intersections between race, class and masculinity.

My favourite quote. "A woman, a girl, a gun. This is an old story, one anyone can tell. A trope in a movie you can walk away from if it weren’t already here, already written down."

My three word review. Lyrical, graceful, healing.

Indira, social team
 

4. Dressed: The Secret Life of Clothes by Shahidha Bari

What’s it about? In a series of poetic meditations, Shahidha Bari seeks to better understand the relationships we form with the clothes we wear. From the dress that promises everlasting adoration to the worn-out coat that rigidly holds the shape of its owner, Dressed explores the myriad ways garments shine a light on the life of the wearer. Concerned more with how clothes influence our experience of the world than with high fashion, this book is perfect for anyone who cherishes the art of dressing up, just as much as it is for those for which clothing simply fulfils a function. Weaving in and out of modern culture, from Madonna’s fluorescent jackets to Patrick Bateman’s designer suits, this is contemporary philosophy at its best.

My favourite quote. "Perhaps there is no garment equal to who we are, no fold, no cut, no gaze, no look that could have the measure of this. But the challenge of dress is only to seek out the truths of the body, its variegated surfaces and sensations, the brute fact of biology and the infinitely different ways we experience it – this body which we cannot escape and which we clothe to meet the world."

My three word review. Thought-provoking, original, captivating.

Sophie, audience team
 

5. Big Sky by Kate Atkinson

What's it about? Fans of Kate Atkinson will be celebrating as private detective Jackson Brodie returns in the fifth instalment of the bestselling crime series, which began nine years ago with Case Histories. And Big Sky is certainly worth the wait! We find Brodie living along the picturesque Yorkshire coast, where tracking adulterous husbands is as exciting as it gets. That is until a chance encounter with a stranger on the cliff-tops leads Brodie into a more sinister underworld – and so the mystery starts to unravel. This is a story of greed and abuse, of family and hope, and how the incomprehensible might just be on your doorstep. But with any Atkinson novel, Big Sky is edge-of-your-seat reading. For anyone new to the series, Atkinson provides enough backstory to read this book first, but the real joy would be to start at the very beginning – and what a treat you have ahead of you! Find the series here. 

My favourite quote. “It was a good day, Jackson thought, when you saved someone’s life. Even better when you didn’t lose your own."

My three word review. Thrilling, gritty, raw.

Sarah, website team
 

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