Happy Birthday to the fantastic Salena Godden!! Springfield Road is a journey into childhood in the late 1970s, a time of halfpenny sweets, fish n chips in newspaper, scrumping apples and foraging for conkers. Set in the dawn of Thatcher’s Britain, it’s a salute to every curly-top, scabby knee’d, mixed-up, half-crazy kid with NHS glasses, free school dinners & hand-me- downs, as told by the daughter of an Irish jazz musician and a Jamaican go-go dancer. It’s about discovering that life is unfair, that there are bullies out there, and that parents die; yet it is the very antithesis of a misery memoir.

It’s a vivid, uplifting tale that seeks out the humour, colour and tenderness in the world, and when you read … More

Kerry Hudson is proudly working class but she was never proudly poor. The poverty she grew up in was all-encompassing, grinding & often dehumanising. Always on the move with her single mother, Kerry attended nine primary schools & five secondaries, living in B&Bs & council flats. She scores eight out of ten on the Adverse Childhood Experiences measure of childhood trauma. Twenty years later, Kerry’s life is unrecognisable. She’s a prizewinning novelist who has travelled the world. She has a secure home, a loving partner & access to art, music, film & books. But she often finds herself looking over her shoulder, caught somehow between two worlds.

Lowborn is Kerry’s exploration of where she came from. She revisits the towns she grew up in to try to … More

Born OTD in 1928, American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou. Angelou publicly discussed aspects of her personal life. She was respected as a spokesperson for black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of black culture. Her works are widely used in schools and universities worldwide, although attempts have been made to ban her books from some U.S. libraries. Angelou’s most celebrated works have been labeled as autobiographical fiction, but many critics consider them to be autobiographies. She made a deliberate attempt to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing & expanding the genre. Her books center on themes such as racism, identity, family and travel.

Maya Angelou’s seven volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the … More

My Song is an inspiring story of performance and protest, from a superstar singer and actor who was on the front lines of practically every progressive political battle in modern memory. Along the way, he befriended some of the most influential figures of the 20th century, from Tony Curtis, Marlon Brando and Sidney Poitier to Martin Luther King, the Kennedys, Eleanor Roosevelt, Fidel Castro, James Baldwin, Bob Dylan and Nelson Mandela.

From his impoverished childhood in Harlem and Jamaica, through his meteoric rise as an international calypso star, provocative crossover into … More

“This is not a story of a high-octane career in a pioneering surgical field; it’s not a memoir filled with blockbusting anecdotes. Instead, it is a gently remarkable book about what it means to be a nurse, what it means to care. It struck me again and again how little we hear from nurses, how quiet their voice is, how poorly represented they are on our bookshelves.”

Christie Watson was a nurse for twenty years. Taking us from birth to death and from A&E to the mortuary, … More

In a 1970s commuter town, Tracey Thorn’s teenage life was forged from what failed to happen. Her diaries were packed with entries about not buying things, not going to the disco, the school coach not arriving. Before she became an acclaimed musician and writer, Tracey Thorn was a typical teenager: bored and cynical, despairing of her aspirational parents. Her only comfort came from house parties…

Meaningful Conversations and the female pop icons who hinted at a new kind of living. Returning more than three decades … More

OTD in 1853, after having been kidnapped and sold into slavery in the American South, Solomon Northup regains his freedom; his memoir Twelve Years a Slave later becomes a national bestseller. The shocking first-hand account of one man’s remarkable fight for freedom. `Why had I not died in my young years – before God had given me children to love & live for? What unhappiness & suffering & sorrow it would have prevented. I sighed for liberty; but the bondsman’s chain was round me, & could not be shaken off.’ 1841: Solomon Northup is a successful violinist when he is kidnapped & sold into slavery.

Taken from his family in New York State – with no hope of ever seeing them again – and forced … More

Christ stopped at Eboli, down on the coast, up the in the hills the world remains pre-Christian. This is the author’s account of life in one of those hill villages while in internal exile under the fascists. Levi presents most of the villagers as being so isolated from the mainstream of Italian culture that they have a pre-christian or pagan mentality or weltanschauung. For example at Christmas the poor people give presents to the rich – unlike in the Bible story were the Kings give presents to the carpenter’s son – hence the title of the book

He comes to see these people as the aboriginal inhabitants of Italy crushed down by the weight by a series … More

Penny Pepper has led an extraordinary life. She is a writer. Poet. Punk. Pioneer. Activist. And she also happens to be disabled. In her absorbing memoir, which spans the mid-80s up until the millennium, Penny paints a picture of life, love, sex, music, success, failure and misadventures in the UK punk scene of the late 20th century. Craving freedom from the poor Chiltern Hill council estate where she grew up, Penny dreams of moving to London, of writing, of finding her way in the North London music scene.

She doesn’t have what others take for granted; she is disabled. And she sets out with just her raw, burgeoning … More