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JJ's top reads of 2023


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Explore the team’s favourite books of 2023! Choosing three from an entire year is a challenge and more recent reads tend to obscure what you read in February. Still, there are those that stay with you through the months. Why three? Because it's more than one but less than a list...

The time has come for JJ, who's just joined the team, to share her favourites:

Bless the daughter raised by a voice in her head by Warsan Shire is a collection of poems for girls that have had their hearts broken many times over, by migration, the expectations of gender and family, religion and love. Shire calls on hauntingly beautiful celestial imagery from these breaks, helping us to imagine the many souls we carry with us as we move through life and change. Shire’s collection touches our tender vulnerabilities and the edges of our dreams, she carves out a cocoon for intimate storytelling and truth in a turbulent world that is not always what it seems.

'Radical Intimacy’ by Sophie K Rosa has been my handbook for exploring intimacy outside of romantic relationships this year. Rosa gives a far reaching but very readable overview of how we can create intimacy in healthcare, friendship, work, ourselves and even death all with the purpose of having more meaningful authentic relationships with one another. It’s great to see a book like this with a UK context, if you enjoyed ‘All About Love’ by bell hooks and want even more ideas for how we could live in a more loving connected world, this book is for you!

‘Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments’ by Saidiya Hartman is social anthropology meets history meets storytelling meets poetry. Hartman goes behind court documentation, rent arrears and statistics to explore the messy beautiful lives of black women living outside law and convention at the turn of the 20th century. She has shown how gatekeepers of history create a dominant narrative of our lives after we are gone, but whilst we lived, we were unruly, and free. I’ve never read anything like this and have never seen a writer take such care over the experiences of voices we can no longer reach. Put aside everything you think you know about life after slavery and enter these fully-realised, honest, scandalous, funny retellings of American black women’s histories.

Watch out for the rest of the team favourites, coming in the next few days on the website!

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