We're honouring and celebrating Black History Month in the Shop this February. Our shelves will be stocked with a selection of fiction, memoir and essays that have sparked inspiration and conversation around the world.
Our staff have put together a list of books that are close to their hearts, and we've shared a few below. We hope you'll discover a new classic with us, or revisit an old favourite. Penguin Shop staff are always happy to give personalised recommendations, and to chat about the writers and books that we're passionate about, so make sure you drop by!
Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin
Few black writers are as revered as James Baldwin — and for good reason. You feel this odd kinship the first time that you read him. His anger is palpable. His rage at the injustice of the world is impossible. His sense of otherness, of loneliness, and powerlessness is universal. You know James Baldwin.
You understand what drives him to write his righteous essays, and expressive fiction. Go Tell It On the Mountain, Baldwin’s first major work, is undeniably an American classic. It’s a slow burn of a novel. It deals with a boy’s own discovery, and how he reconciles his duty to his family, his faith, and his own desires. Baldwin will make you fall in love with words. He’ll make you want to memorize every line, and bring tears to your eyes.
This is a small book, but there’s nothing small about these ideas. They’re universal and they’re insightful. And, above all, like their author, they’re brilliant.
Ghana Must Go by Tiye Selasi
This book stayed with me for years. In fact there’s a specific passage that I love so much I read it out loud to anyone who will listen. It’s a stunning portrait of a family and how pride and shame can tear it apart.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Born a Crime is a must-read. Fans of Noah can expect the same sharp insights and humour characteristic of his stand-up and The Daily Show, but everything feels fresh and original.
This is not a comedic memoir, and not a re-hash of old jokes, but a deeply moving exploration of the extraordinary life of Trevor Noah and the last years of apartheid in which he grew up. This book makes it clear why Trevor Noah has become one of the most influential social commentators today.