100 books like Brit(ish)

By Afua Hirsch,

Here are 100 books that Brit(ish) fans have personally recommended if you like Brit(ish). Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Susie Orbach Author Of Bodies

From my list on contemporary memoirs by women.

Who am I?

Memoirs have crept up on me as favorites. I could list many more. Please let me! As a psychoanalyst, I listen to the pains and struggles of individuals trying to become more at ease with themselves. They engage with their demons and try to make sense of how to manage the way their personal history has created their worldview and how to expand it enough to enter a present. Memoirs are another way of addressing such struggles. They have an elegance and a universality that emerges out of their individual stories. We learn about the other and we learn about ourselves.

Susie's book list on contemporary memoirs by women

Susie Orbach Why did Susie love this book?

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.

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…


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

Susie Orbach Author Of Bodies

From my list on contemporary memoirs by women.

Who am I?

Memoirs have crept up on me as favorites. I could list many more. Please let me! As a psychoanalyst, I listen to the pains and struggles of individuals trying to become more at ease with themselves. They engage with their demons and try to make sense of how to manage the way their personal history has created their worldview and how to expand it enough to enter a present. Memoirs are another way of addressing such struggles. They have an elegance and a universality that emerges out of their individual stories. We learn about the other and we learn about ourselves.

Susie's book list on contemporary memoirs by women

Susie Orbach Why did Susie love this book?

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.

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…


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

Jan Eliasberg Author Of Hannah's War

From my list on exploring the world from a female point of view.

Who am I?

I was raised to believe that I could do everything a man could do, just as Ginger Rodgers did, “backwards and in high heels.” My discovery that social expectations and boundaries for women were vastly different than those for men came as an enormous shock, and struck me as deeply, tragically unfair. I take strength from women in history, as well as from fictional female characters, who passionately pursue roles in a man’s world that are considered transgressive or forbidden. As a glass-ceiling-shattering female film and television director I take inspiration from women who have the gritty determination to live on their own terms. And then tell it as they lived it.

Jan's book list on exploring the world from a female point of view

Jan Eliasberg Why did Jan love this book?

This list wouldn’t be complete without a first-person memoir, a woman’s lived experience in a woman’s voice. And what better memoir to choose than Winterson's searingly honest account of how she reclaimed her childhood through the power of language.

In writing that is naked and brave, Winterson reveals a childhood that was ghastly, even Dickensian, but that was the crucible for Winterson’s incendiary talent.

By Jeanette Winterson,

Why should I read it?

6 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,…


Book cover of Red Dust Road

Susie Orbach Author Of Bodies

From my list on contemporary memoirs by women.

Who am I?

Memoirs have crept up on me as favorites. I could list many more. Please let me! As a psychoanalyst, I listen to the pains and struggles of individuals trying to become more at ease with themselves. They engage with their demons and try to make sense of how to manage the way their personal history has created their worldview and how to expand it enough to enter a present. Memoirs are another way of addressing such struggles. They have an elegance and a universality that emerges out of their individual stories. We learn about the other and we learn about ourselves.

Susie's book list on contemporary memoirs by women

Susie Orbach Why did Susie love this book?

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.

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…


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

Arun Kundnani Author Of The Muslims Are Coming: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror

From my list on racism in Britain.

Who am I?

Kundnani writes about racial capitalism and Islamophobia, surveillance and political violence, and Black radical movements. He is the author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, extremism, and the domestic War on Terror and The End of Tolerance: racism in 21st century Britain, which was selected as a New Statesman book of the year. He has written for the Nation, the Guardian, the Washington Post, Vice, and The Intercept. Born in London, he moved to New York in 2010. A former editor of the journal Race & Class, he was miseducated at Cambridge University, and holds a PhD from London Metropolitan University. He has been an Open Society fellow and a scholar-in-residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.

Arun's book list on racism in Britain

Arun Kundnani Why did Arun love this book?

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.

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.


Book cover of Windrush Child

Abena Eyeson Author Of Looking Up

From my list on stories about the Black child in Britain.

Who am I?

Ghanaian-born, I came to Britain aged twelve with my family and was always a lover of stories.  Now a PhD-educated mum of three, it niggled that there weren’t many novels with a Black child as the protagonist, especially a Black British one. As a creative who’d acted and performed poetry in the past, I set out to write a story about a Black child in Britain overcoming challenges.  Inspired by anecdotes of children remaining with relatives in their home country as their parents moved to Britain to make a life before sending for them, I was interested in writing a story about such a child after they arrived in Britain.

Abena's book list on stories about the Black child in Britain

Abena Eyeson Why did Abena love this book?

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.

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. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

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…


Book cover of Britain's Black Past

Susie Steinbach Author Of Understanding the Victorians: Politics, Culture and Society in Nineteenth-Century Britain

From my list on will make you love Victorian Britain.

Who am I?

I'm a historian. But I’ve never been interested in Parliamentary debates, or important politicians. I’m much more interested in things like gender and entertainment. I always say that a lot more people have sex than become prime minister, so it makes more sense to study marriage than high politics! I like to learn about ordinary people, living their lives and loving their families, working and surviving, and trying to have a little fun along the way. I also love history of more fun and glamorous things—celebrities and scandals and spectacles and causes célèbres, hit plays, and best-selling novels. I have history degrees from Harvard and Yale and I’ve been publishing on nineteenth-century British history since 2000.

Susie's book list on will make you love Victorian Britain

Susie Steinbach Why did Susie love this book?

As some reactions to the first season of the television show Bridgerton have made clear, many people need to believe that Black people first arrived in Britain after World War II, and that Britain + the past = whites only. But it wasn’t so!

Black people have been British, and part of British history, for hundreds of years. I’m embarrassed how little I learned about Black Britons in studying British history in college and graduate school; this book has been a fantastic way to learn more.

By Gretchen H. Gerzina (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Britain's Black Past as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Expanding upon the 2017 Radio 4 series 'Britain's Black Past', this book presents those stories and analyses through the lens of a recovered past. Even those who may be familiar with some of the materials will find much that they had not previously known, and will be introduced to people, places, and stories brought to light by new research. In a time of international racial unrest and migration, it is important not to lose sight of similar situations that took place in an earlier time. In chapters written by scholars, artists, and independent researchers, readers will learn of an early…


Book cover of Black and British: A Forgotten History

Neil Thompson Author Of The Social Worker's Practice Manual

From my list on promoting social justice.

Who am I?

My father died when I was a young child, and so my uncle became the nearest I had to a father figure. He was a trade unionist and strongly committed to social justice. I was so enamoured by the compassion he showed towards socially disadvantaged people and the struggles they encounter through no fault of their own that I became an advocate for social justice from an early age. That passion for fairness and inclusion has stayed with me throughout my career and therefore figures strongly in my writings and, over the years, in my teaching, training, and consultancy work.

Neil's book list on promoting social justice

Neil Thompson Why did Neil love this book?

Olusoga’s television work has been very well received. He has a great talent for explaining complex and sensitive matters in a way that encourages critical thought rather than defensiveness. This book shows that he is equally capable when expressing his ideas in writing.

My own work around anti-racism has been based on highlighting the subtle and often hidden ways in which racism operates, and this book’s emphasis on the invisibility of black people and their achievements in conventional approaches to history fits perfectly with my approach.

Just as Criado Perez addresses sexism in powerful but non-confrontational ways that avoid provoking self-protective responses, Olusoga does much the same for tackling racism. This man’s work is a major asset in terms of promoting social justice.

By David Olusoga,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'[A] comprehensive and important history of black Britain . . . Written with a wonderful clarity of style and with great force and passion.' - Kwasi Kwarteng, Sunday Times

In this vital re-examination of a shared history, historian and broadcaster David Olusoga tells the rich and revealing story of the long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa and the Caribbean.

This edition, fully revised and updated, features a new chapter encompassing the Windrush scandal and the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, events which put black British history at the centre of urgent national debate. Black…


Book cover of Black Tudors: The Untold Story

Kenneth L. Campbell Author Of The History of Britain and Ireland: Prehistory to Today

From my list on British and Irish history with a wide range of topics.

Who am I?

I have a Ph.D. in British history and have taught a variety of courses on the topic for the past 40 years. Since first visiting Scotland on a study tour in 1981, I have been to Britain and Ireland both multiple times and have spent extended periods of time there. From Shakespeare to the Beatles, from the Norman Conquest to the Second World War, from Roman Britain to Brexit, I have found each period of British and Irish history endlessly fascinating and sharing my passion with students and readers has been one of the great joys of my life. 

Kenneth's book list on British and Irish history with a wide range of topics

Kenneth L. Campbell Why did Kenneth love this book?

If there is any one book that has changed the way I view early modern British history, Kaufman has written that book.

Kaufman has written a series of mini-biographies here of Black residents of Britain during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries that predate Britain’s involvement in the slave trade and demonstrate just how wide-ranging the Black British experience was during this period. The book challenges many preconceptions, especially the association of Blacks with slavery that really only emerged in England after the Tudor period.

The stories of the individuals featured in this book have much to teach us, not only about this early period, but about the Black contribution to British history in general and the need for historians to write them back into that history.

By Miranda Kaufmann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2018

A Book of the Year for the Evening Standard and the Observer

A black porter publicly whips a white Englishman in the hall of a Gloucestershire manor house. A Moroccan woman is baptised in a London church. Henry VIII dispatches a Mauritanian diver to salvage lost treasures from the Mary Rose. From long-forgotten records emerge the remarkable stories of Africans who lived free in Tudor England...

They were present at some of the defining moments of the age. They were christened, married and buried by the Church. They were paid wages like any…


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

Kirsten Claiden-Yardley Author Of The Man Behind the Tudors: Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk

From my list on everyday life in Tudor England.

Who am I?

I am a historian and historic buildings consultant with a longstanding interest in 15th and 16th century England. In addition to my own work on memorials, funerals, and the Howard family, I have worked as a researcher and consultant for television and books, including being a production researcher for the BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall. 

Kirsten's book list on everyday life in Tudor England

Kirsten Claiden-Yardley Why did Kirsten love this book?

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.

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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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