October marks the beginning of Black History Month. This year’s theme, ‘Saluting Our Sisters‘, pays homage to black women who had contributions ignored, ideas appropriated, and voices silenced.

The Exact Editions’ Black History Month UK Reading List has been created in collaboration with 20 publishers, who have recommended 38 books that recognise the contributions of black people around the world, celebrate black history, and confront racism.

A collection of some of the front covers included in the Black History Month UK reading list

Readers can access the the Black History Month UK Reading List here (this collection link to previews of each book will expire on 1st November 2023).

Read on to find out more about each book…

And Other Stories

By Night the Mountain Burns by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel

Recounts the narrator’s childhood on a remote island off the West African coast, living with his mysterious grandfather, several mothers and no fathers.

Glimpse inside the book here.

The Gurugu Pledge by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel

On Mount Gurugu, overlooking the Spanish enclave of Melilla on the North African coast, desperate migrants gather before attempting to gain asylum on European soil.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Bad Betty Press

While I Yet Live by Gboyega Odubanjo

With an enviable lightness of touch, Odubanjo explores themes such as race, mortality and the fallibility of faith. The poems beat to a luxurious musicality; these are poems to read to yourself aloud.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Things I Have Forgotten Before by Tanatsei Gambura

Brick by brick, Gambura dismantles walls of silence to show us the story behind the story: in a township room in 80s Harare, a straße in Bonn, an otherplace locked into grandmothers’ hips.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Bloodaxe Books

Windrush Songs by James Berry

These poems gives voice to the people who came on the first ships from the Caribbean, whose journeys held echoes of earlier sea voyages which had brought ancestors from Africa to the slave plantations. Berry was one of these emigrants, settling in Britain in 1948. 

Glimpse inside the book here.

The Ferguson Report: An Erasure by Nicole Sealey

In August 2014, Michael Brown was shot to death by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. What followed was a period of protests and turmoil, culminating in an extensive report that was filed by the Department of Justice detailing biased policing and court practices in the city.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Broken Sleep Books

An Aviary of Common Birds by Lalah-Simone Springer

Springer’s poetry asks questions about love, family, community and working class relationships, and at the heart of the writing is acceptance.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Unutterable Visions, Perishable Breath by Otamere Guobadia

A gorgeous collection of writings which embody poetic sequences and fragmented poetry as queer forms, a coruscating interplay between language and desire.

Glimpse inside the book here.


The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion by Kei Miller

Miller dramatises what happens when one system of knowledge, one method of understanding place and territory, comes up against another.

Glimpse inside the book here.

New Caribbean Poetry: An Anthology edited by Kei Miller

This anthology turns the spotlight on eight New Caribbean poets. Between them, they represent the range of Caribbean identities and experiences.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Cornell University Press

Out of Oakland by Sean L. Malloy

Explores the evolving internationalism of the Black Panther Party; the continuing exile of former members in Cuba is testament to the lasting nature of the international bonds that were forged during the party’s heyday.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Singing Like Germans by Kira Thurman

Tells the sweeping story of Black musicians in German-speaking Europe over more than a century. Through this compelling history, Thurman explores how people reinforced or challenged racial identities in the concert hall.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Fordham University Press

Eunice Hunton Carter by Marilyn S. Greenwald & Yun Li

The biography of Eunice Hunton Carter, a social justice and civil rights trailblazer and the only woman prosecutor on the Luciano trial. Carter’s career working in an environment of bias, segregation, and patriarchy helped pave the way for those who came after her.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Before the Fires by Mark Naison & Bob Gumbs

People associate the South Bronx with gangs, violence, drugs, crime, burned-out buildings, and poverty. This book provides a completely different picture of the South Bronx through interviews with residents who lived there from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Glimpse inside the book here.


Forced Out by Kevin Maxwell

A revelatory exposé combining memoir with sharp analysis and a fascinating insider perspective on day-to-day life in the police force. It paints a sobering portrait of an institution that has not yet learned the lessons of the past and whose prejudice is informing its choices.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Constructing a Nervous System by Margo Jefferson

In this intimate and innovative memoir, Jefferson gives us her own personal and intellectual formation. As she comes of age in an America whose freedoms are distorted by race and gender, she finds herself in a cast of others – jazz luminaries, writers, artists, athletes, and stars.

Glimpse inside the book here

Hackett Publishing

White War, Black Soldiers by Bakary Diallo & Lamine Senghor

Strength and Goodness by Bakary Diallo and The Rape of a Country by Lamine Senghor are made available for the first time in English in this edition, complete with a glossary of terms and a general historical introduction.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Sunjata: A New Prose Version edited & translated by David C. Conrad

A pillar of the West African oral tradition for centuries, this epic traces the adventures and achievements of the Mande hero, Sunjata, as he liberates his people and establishes the great medieval empire of Mali.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Harvard University Press

Fugitive Pedagogy by Jarvis R. Givens

African-Americans pursued education through clandestine means, often in defiance of law and custom, even under threat of violence. They developed what Jarvis Givens calls a tradition of “fugitive pedagogy”—a theory and practice of Black education in America.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Traveling Black by Mia Bay

Mia Bay went back to the sources with some basic questions: How did travel segregation begin? Why were so many of those who challenged it in court women? How did it move from one form of transport to another, and what was it like to be caught up in this web of contradictory rules?

Glimpse inside the book here.

Lund Humphries

The Front Room by Michael McMillan

A beloved and much-praised source, providing fascinating revelations into the post-war British experience of immigrants, the decoration of their living spaces and their position in society in relation to decolonisation.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Hurvin Anderson by Michael J. Prokopow

A comprehensive overview of the career to date of British artist Hurvin Anderson (b.1965). Anderson is known for painting loosely rendered ‘observations’ of scenes and spaces loaded with personal or communal meaning.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Manchester University Press

Black Resistance to British Policing by Adam Elliott-Cooper

As police racism unsettles Britain’s tolerant self-image, this book details the activism that made movements like Black Lives Matter possible. Elliott-Cooper analyses racism beyond prejudice and the interpersonal – arguing that black resistance confronts a global system of racial classification, exploitation and violence.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Deporting Black Britons by Luke de Noronha

Based on years of research with deported people and their families, this book presents stories of survival and hardship in both the UK and Jamaica. These intimate portraits testify to the damage wrought by violent borders, opening up wider questions about racism, belonging and deservingness in anti-immigrant times.

Glimpse inside the book here.

New York University Press

Stay Woke by Tehama Lopez Bunyashi & Candis Watts Smith

The essential guide to understanding how racism works and how racial inequality shapes black lives, ultimately offering a road-map for resistance for racial justice advocates and antiracists.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Sisters in the Struggle edited by Bettye Collier-Thomas & V.P. Franklin

Women were at the forefront of the civil rights struggle, but their individual stories were rarely heard. Only recently have historians begun to recognise the role women played in the battle for racial equality.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Pan Macmillan

Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self by Danielle Evans

Evans’ characters are wry, wise and utterly original. Striking in their emotional immediacy, the electrifying, prize-winning stories in this book offer a fresh perspective on race and class in contemporary America.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Black Voices on Britain by Hakim Adi

A compelling anthology of Black voices from England, America, Africa and the Caribbean, from people who lived, worked, campaigned and travelled in Britain from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Renard Press

Phillis Wheatley with a memoir by B.B. Thatcher

In 1773, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral became the first book of poetry by an African-American author to be published. Once Wheatley’s talent became known, many believed that it was impossible for a slave to write poetry of such high quality.

Glimpse inside the book here.

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano

Published in London once Equiano had secured his freedom, the runaway success of the book led to his financial independence, and he toured England, Scotland and Ireland lecturing on the horrors he lived through, and he dedicated his life to advocating for the abolition of slavery.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Saqi Books

Vauxhall by Gabriel Gbadamosi

An incident marks the beginning of a year in which Michael’s life threatens to unravel. From his sister’s taunts to a series of house fires, police harassment, his parents’ crumbling marriage and the realisation that the council intends to clear out the ‘slum’ he calls home, he learns to navigate his way through an array of obstacles.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani

In 1963, Kenya is on the verge of independence from British colonial rule. Kenyans come together in the previously white-only Jakaranda Hotel. The resident musician is Rajan Salim, who charms visitors with songs inspired by his grandfather’s noble stories of the railway construction that spawned the Kenya they now know.

Glimpse inside the book here.


Castles from Cobwebs by J.A. Mensah

Imani is a foundling. Rescued as a baby and raised by nuns on a remote Northumbrian island, she grows up with an ever increasing feeling of displacement. Full of questions, Imani turns to her shadow, Amarie, and her friend, Harold. When Harold can’t find the answers, she puts it down to what the nuns call her “greater purpose”.

Glimpse inside the book here.

University of Nebraska Press

Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus by Ana Maria Spagna

Chronicles the story of an American family against the backdrop of one of the civil rights movement’s lesser-known stories. In January 1957, six young men waited to board a city bus called the Sunnyland in Tallahassee. Their plan was simple but dangerous: ride the bus together, get arrested, and take their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Different Strokes by Cecil Harris

The days of tennis as a country club sport for the aristocracy have long passed, as have the pre–Open era days when Black players faced long odds just to be invited to the four Grand Slam events. An entire generation of sports fans has grown up seeing Venus and Serena Williams as the gold standard in American professional tennis.

Glimpse inside the book here.

University of Wales Press

Black Skin, Blue Books by Daniel G. Williams

A ground breaking comparative study of the fascinating connections between African Americans and the Welsh, beginning in the era of slavery and concluding with the experiences of African-American GIs in wartime Wales.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Slave Wales by Chris Evans

Brings the most up-to-date scholarship on Atlantic slavery to bear on the Welsh experience. Including previously unknown episodes and illuminates in new and disturbing ways familiar features of Welsh history that have previously unsuspected ‘slave dimensions’.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Vintage, Penguin Random House

Africa is Not a Country by Dipo Faloyin

In this funny and insightful book, Faloyin offers a much-needed corrective. He examines each country’s colonial heritage, and explores a wide range of subjects, from chronicling urban life in Lagos and the West African rivalry over who makes the best Jollof rice, to the story of democracy in seven dictatorships and the dangers of stereotypes in popular culture.

Glimpse inside the book here.

Black History Month UK Reading List displayed on a laptop

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