July – September reading Authors of Colour

Looking back at my reads from April – June, it appears I read a whole lot more then than the July – September months. I’m not entirely sure why; I would have thought I’d had more time for reading over the summer holidays. Perhaps it was because I was outside far more during these past three months and…well…doing more and reading less!

That being said, the following books are a bumper set. I don’t aware five stars easily, but I have discovered far more incredible, 5 star reads during these months than the first half of the year.

📚 A Fire in my Head – Poems for the Dawn by Ben Okri (Poetry) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚 Stay with Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ (Fiction)⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚 Love after Love by Ingrid Persaud (Fiction) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak (Fiction)⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚 Wild Embers by Nikita Gill (Poetry) ⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚 The Boy with the Topknot by Sathnam Sanghera (Memoir) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚 Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (Fiction) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚 The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan (Fiction) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚 A House for Mr Biswas by V.S.Naipul (Fiction) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚 Prairie Ostrich by Tamai Kobayashi (Fiction) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚 Kite Spirit by Sita Brahmachari (YA Fiction) ⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚 The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (Fiction) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚 Rebel without Applause by Lemn Sissay (Poetry) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚 If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin (Fiction) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚 Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Non-fiction)⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

📚 Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones (Fiction) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

In preceding months, I’ve noted my favourite read and my favourite audio but as I listened to few audio books between July and September I’ll give you my top three reads, actually incredibly difficult to choose due to the fact that, as mentioned before, I had a bumper crop of five star reads.

So here are the books I couldn’t wait to get back to and whose soul of the book will remain with me long after the story fades.

In third place: The Boy with the Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies by Sathnam Sanghera

Journalist Sathnam Sanghera grew up in Wolverhampton in the 1980s with his Punjabi immigrant parents and three siblings. He was accustomed to the strange behaviour of his parents and one of his sisters whilst also navigating 80’s life with George Michael and Dallas as well as tying his top knot. But at the age of 24, Sathnam made a shocking discovery about his family, throwing everything he thought he knew about them off kilter.

I loved the warmth and honesty of this brilliant book and was with the author every step of the way as he unravelled the painful truth of his family’s secrets.

In second place: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak

Many years ago, I read The Forty Rules of Love by the this author which I also loved and I have a hunch that I may slowly go on to read everything Shafak has written. I discovered recently that the term for somebody who has read everything one author has written is a ‘completist.’ Who knows if one day I will be a Shafak completist, but in the meantime, I thought this Booker-nominated tale was fabulous.

Set in Istanbul, it follows the final ten minutes and thirty-eight seconds of the life of Leila as her life force slowly ebbs away and richly textured and sensual memories swirl around her fading consciousness. I found Shafak’s writing so atmospheric and evocative and I loved the way she jumped back and forth in time so that the reader slowly pieces together Leila’s difficult life, but also the relationships that sustained her.

In first place: Love after Love by Ingrid Persaud

Novelist Ingrid Persaud in running for UK book prize

Love After Love was the Costa Book Winner of 2020 and it could not be a more deserved accolade. It had been on my radar for several months and I’d heard it being raved about on a brilliant book podcast (The Book Club Review). Finally, I picked a copy up from the library and I truly could not put it down. Set in Trinidad, this is a story of the indomitable Betty Ramdam, her son Solo and their endearing lodger Mr Chetan, the bonds that tie them and the secrets that tear them apart.

Written with Trinidadian colloquialisms (though never too much to distract) there was something about Persaud’s highly engaging and personable writing style and narrative which kept me turning the page again and again. It’s not a short book, but I devoured it in one weekend. I don’t want to say much more about it as I urge you to read it, but it made me both laugh and cry, something that only the very best books can do.

Have you read any of these books on my list and, if so, what did you think of them?

Are there any that you’d be interested in trying out after reading this blog?

Authors of colour or not, I always love to hear about what other people are reading and enjoy receiving recommendations of fantastic reads from others.

Thanks for reading my blog! Compliment this post with my April-June list of BAME books, my Jan-March list and my top ten books of 2020.

Rebecca Stonehill
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