10 books like Brit(ish)

By Afua Hirsch,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Brit(ish). Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Every Secret Thing

By Gillian Slovo,

Book cover of Every Secret Thing: My Family, My Country

Gillian Slovo’s mother was assassinated by the South African Govt. Her father was considered public enemy #1. She reflects on being a child of revolutionaries, leaving her home suddenly and arriving in England on her 12th birthday and seeing snow for the first time. This is a book of making sense, acceptance, confrontation, and truths, Beautifully written, compelling, and gives us a way into a world very few people will experience and yet will want to know about.

Every Secret Thing

By Gillian Slovo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Every Secret Thing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A passionate witness to the colossal upheaval that has transformed her native South Africa, Gillian Slovo has written a memoir that is far more than a story of her own life. For she is the daughter of Joe Slovo and Ruth First, South Africa's pioneering anti-apartheid white activists, a daughter who always had to come second to political commitment. Whilst recalling the extraordinary events which surrounded her family's persecution and exile, and reconstructing the truth of her parents' relationship and her own turbulent childhood, Gillian Slovo has also created an astonishing portrait of a courageous, beautiful mother and a father…


Everyday Madness

By Lisa Appignanesi,

Book cover of Everyday Madness: On Grief, Anger, Loss and Love

Lisa’s husband dies as he is being treated for cancer. She writes about the first year after in which grief, madness, confusion, isolation, and fury coincide with Britain’s beginning Brexit madness. Nothing can be made sense of and yet we need words to express what’s happening. And then words provide for consoling and managing.

Everyday Madness

By Lisa Appignanesi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everyday Madness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'You will find all of life in this' Deborah Levy

After the death of her partner of thirty-two years, Lisa Appignanesi was thrust into a state striated by rage and superstition in which sanity felt elusive. Then, too, the cultural and political moment seemed to collude with her condition: everywhere people were dislocated and angry.

In this electrifying and brave examination of an ordinary enough death and its aftermath, Everyday Madness uses all Lisa Appignanesi's evocative and analytic powers to scrutinize her own and our society's experience of grieving. With searing honesty, lashed by humour, she navigates us onto the…


Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

By Jeanette Winterson,

Book cover of Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

Jeanette Winterson writes her upbringing as an only, adopted child with a mother who hated being a nobody and found her life in church, who used face powder, but not lipstick – too fast and loose. Written with wry prose. "My mother was a snob and she didn’t like me mixing with the dog biscuit girls from Oswaldtwistle." A child longing for love and loyalty, wrestling with a mother who parcelled out either one on ration. It is a brilliant portrayal of the mother-daughter dynamic, a memoir that captures the Lancashire spirit of family life, roll up your sleeves and get on with it. 

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

By Jeanette Winterson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The shocking, heart-breaking - and often very funny - true story behind Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.

In 1985 Jeanette Winterson's first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, was published. It was Jeanette's version of the story of a terraced house in Accrington, an adopted child, and the thwarted giantess Mrs Winterson. It was a cover story, a painful past written over and repainted. It was a story of survival.

This book is that story's the silent twin. It is full of hurt and humour and a fierce love of life. It is about the pursuit of happiness,…


Red Dust Road

By Jackie Kay,

Book cover of Red Dust Road

Jackie and her brother were adopted by a loving working-class family in Glasgow. They were communists and thoughtful about the adoption process. Jackie becomes a beloved poet and a wonderful public performer. She was recently made the Poet Laureate of Scotland – The Scots Makar. In this book, she traces her childhood and her quest to meet her father in Lagos and to discover her biological parentage and story. It’s a story of belonging and of not belonging. Of finding, fitting, and not fitting. It moves and uplifts us.

Red Dust Road

By Jackie Kay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Red Dust Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Taking the reader from Glasgow to Lagos and beyond, Red Dust Road is a heart-stopping memoir, a story of parents and siblings, friends and strangers, belonging and beliefs, biology and destiny.

With an introduction by the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon.

From the moment when, as a little girl, she realizes that her skin is a different colour from that of her beloved mum and dad, to the tracing and finding of her birth parents, her Highland mother and Nigerian father, Jackie Kay's journey in Red Dust Road is one of unexpected twists, turns and deep emotions. In a…


A Useful Woman

By Darcie Wilde,

Book cover of A Useful Woman

Rosalind Thorne’s life as a gently bred woman is upended when her father abandons the family. Finding herself penniless, Rosalind manages to use her connections and considerable skill to help wealthy society women solve their problems, for a discreet payment. In the course of helping a client who wants to become a patroness of Almack’s, the invitation-only social club, Rosalind discovers the body of an acquaintance in the ballroom. The patronesses of Almack’s want Rosalind to hush up the death, while the victim’s sister wants her to find her brother’s killer. Rosalind proves adept at putting the pieces of a very complex puzzle together, at great danger to herself. I loved Rosalind’s determination and cunning as well as the sardonic portrayal of the ton’s countless social rules, spitefulness, and hypocrisy.

A Useful Woman

By Darcie Wilde,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Useful Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inspired by the novels of Jane Austen, this new mystery series set in 19th-century London introduces the charming and resourceful Rosalind Thorne, a woman privy to the secrets of high society—including who among the ton is capable of murder...
 
The daughter of a baronet and minor heiress, Rosalind Thorne was nearly ruined after her father abandoned the family. To survive in the only world she knew, she began to manage the affairs of some of London society’s most influential women, who have come to rely on her wit and discretion.
 
So, when artistocratic wastrel Jasper Aimesworth is found dead in…


Communities of Resistance

By A. Sivanandan,

Book cover of Communities of Resistance: Writings on Black Struggles for Socialism

A. Sivanandan was a key intellectual of the Asian and African-Caribbean working-class movements in Britain during their insurgent heyday from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. The essays collected in this volume, written between 1982 and 1990, are about how those movements were disaggregated and undermined – laying the ground for today’s racist Britain. The son of a rural postal clerk from the hinterland of a minor colonial territory, Sivanandan fled Sri Lanka after the anti-Tamil pogroms of 1958 and arrived in London as a refugee. The socialism the book advocates is poetic, loving, joyful, and centered upon the experiences of Third World peoples. Not a single sentence of Communities of Resistance is clunky or lacking in feeling.

Communities of Resistance

By A. Sivanandan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Communities of Resistance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ambalavaner Sivanandan was one of Britain's most influential radical thinkers. As Director of the Institute of Race Relations for forty years, his work changed the way that we think about race, racism, globalisation and resistance. Communities of Resistance collects together some of his most famous essays, including his excoriating polemic on Thatcherism and the left "The Hokum of New Times".

This updated edition contains a new preface by Gary Younge and an introduction by Arun Kundnani.


Windrush Child

By Benjamin Zephaniah,

Book cover of Windrush Child

This novel is the story of Leonard. The book starts with a focus on Jamaica but most of the story is about life after Leonard arrives in the UK with his mother to join his estranged father, who left Jamaica when Leonard was a baby. I found this to be a thought-provoking but easy-to-read historical novel about leaving the home you know where you feel loved and starting again somewhere that doesn’t feel so warm and welcoming. The story is about family, the Windrush generation and the history of Jamaica and Great Britain. An interesting read drizzled with Benjamin Zephaniah’s poetry.

Windrush Child

By Benjamin Zephaniah,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Windrush Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this heart-stopping adventure, Benjamin Zephaniah
shows us what it was like to be a child of the Windrush generation.

Leonard is shocked when he
arrives with his mother in the port of Southampton. His father is
a stranger to him, it's cold and even the Jamaican
food doesn't taste the same as it did back home in Maroon
Town. But his parents have brought him here to try to make
a better life, so Leonard does his best not to complain,
to make new friends, to do well at school - even
when people hurt him with their words…


England's Other Countrymen

By Onyeka Nubia,

Book cover of England's Other Countrymen: Black Tudor Society

In this thought-provoking book, Onyeka Nubia encourages us to re-examine Tudor concepts of race and ethnicity in Tudor (and Stuart) England without assumptions based on post-colonial narratives. What emerges is a nuanced picture of complex interactions, attitudes, and prejudices. As well as studying the writings of Tudor scholars, theologians, and authors, Nubia looks at the lives of individual Africans in England, showing that they weren’t “strangers” but lived as part of English communities - whether in cosmopolitan London parishes such as St Botolph without Aldgate, or in rural villages.

England's Other Countrymen

By Onyeka Nubia,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked England's Other Countrymen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Tudor period remains a source of timeless fascination, with endless novels, TV programmes and films depicting the period in myriad ways. And yet our image of the Tudor era remains overwhelmingly white. This ground-breaking and provocative new book seeks to redress the balance: revealing not only how black presence in Tudor England was far greater than has previously been recognised, but that Tudor conceptions of race were far more complex than we have been led to believe.

Onyeka Nubia's original research shows that Tudors from many walks of life regularly interacted with people of African descent, both at home…


Assembly

By Natasha Brown,

Book cover of Assembly

This book is slim as a Hanzo knife and its sentences cut just as precisely.

It comes in at a scant 72-page read, so those of us trying to fit in a great read between all our other obligations should take a look at this scathing look at the microaggressions endured in a male-dominated corporate environment.  

This book gets into the mind of a Black British woman; overqualified, impeccably educated, and yet still somehow made to feel inadequate through multiple tiny attacks on her character and her competence. Her white, well-to-do fiancé wants to marry her, and this marriage could be a way to lessen the impact of the toxic masculine environment surrounding her, but our nameless protagonist can’t be sure if there is true love in the union or if it is just a rebellious addition to her fiancé’s heretofore bland pedigree.

Told in a series of vignettes, Assembly…

Assembly

By Natasha Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Assembly as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE FOLIO PRIZE 2022

SHORTLISTED FOR THE GOLDSMITHS PRIZE 2021

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKS ARE MY BAG FICTION AWARD 2021

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BETTY TRASK PRIZE 2022

LONGLISTED FOR THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE 2022

'Diamond-sharp, timely and urgent' Observer, Best Debuts of 2021

'Subtle, elegant, scorching' Vogue

'Virtuosic, exquisite, achingly unique' Guardian

'I'm full of the hope, on reading it, that this is the kind of book that doesn't just mark the moment things change, but also makes that change possible' Ali Smith

'Exquisite, daring, utterly captivating. A stunning new writer' Bernardine Evaristo

Come of age in the…


Brown Girl Like Me

By Jaspreet Kaur,

Book cover of Brown Girl Like Me: The Essential Guidebook and Manifesto for South Asian Girls and Women

Infused with passion and empathy, this book has much to offer. Tackling topics that are taboo or misunderstood; from mental health to menstruation, love and relationships, to micro-aggressions. The writer talks honestly about her own experiences and signposts solutions that have helped her, including other women’s insights, research, and information. Lively, positive, and life-affirming, this book will speak to many.

Brown Girl Like Me

By Jaspreet Kaur,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brown Girl Like Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You might feel that this fight is too big for you. How on earth can you dismantle so many complex, long-standing systems of oppression? My answer: piece by piece.

Brown Girl Like Me is an inspiring memoir and empowering manifesto that equips women with the confidence and tools they need to navigate the difficulties that come with an intersectional identity. Jaspreet Kaur unpacks key issues such as the media, the workplace, the home, education, mental health, culture, confidence and the body, to help South Asian women understand and tackle the issues that affect them, and help them be in the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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