Books are an open ticket for a platform in the direction of ‘you, this world and beyond’. This ticket will transport you away from this world with its disorienting noise, its demands, expectations and the things of which you’ve grown weary. You’ll journey through new faces, voices and places that echo of things once known. Books are a beacon to guide you home, carrying more joy and knowledge than you packed when you left.

Reading lists

Decolonising the curriculum: a reading list

A collection of key reading. Updated as new learning takes place. Last updated: November 2022 Defining decolonisation Why I Say ‘Decolonisation is Impossible’   Adebisi. 2019.   Article ‘Without critical thought, representation can become toxic and tokenistic, people could be included into spaces that are not safe for them, spaces

Research engagement: a reading list

A collection of key reading. Updated as new learning takes place. Last updated: November 2022 Critical engagement with research The Open Door: How to be a Research-Sensitive School Abercrombie. Haslam. 2021.  Paper ‘Research evidence has an impact on the culture of the school, shaping ideas of the right way of

Online teacher CPD: a reading list

A collection of key reading. Updated as new learning takes place. Last updated: April 2022 Online teacher CPD Online teacher CPD: principles from research and practice Tyreman. 2021.  Blog ‘The idea that learning is the most important factor in an online learning experience may not surprise many teachers but it’s

Online communities: a reading list

A collection of articles, research, blogs and videos exploring effective practice in the creation of online communities within the education sector and beyond. View and explore

This is a list of 332 fiction and non-fiction books I’ve read since 2018, when my records began, and a few memorable ones before that.

My favourite reads are highlighted in green and have a 5 star rating. 4.5 star ratings come highly recommended and 4 star ratings should not be discounted. 2 – 3.5 star ratings don’t mean that the book didn’t serve a purpose at the time of reading, it’s just not a book I’d necessarily make a universal recommendation for. 0 – 1.5 star ratings are books I’d suggest avoiding entirely. 

My experience of book recommendations over the years, both giving and receiving, is that the words, characters, stories and places that speak to one’s soul is not always an experience that’s shared, even when there’s certainty it will be. When a book does land with two people in the same way, there’s nothing else quite like it. If you decide to act on any of my recommendations then I’d love to know your experiences. Use the menus below to navigate quickly to specific categories and books, or just scroll on through.

Quick navigation to categories and my 5-4.5 star ratings

Fiction – Crime/Thriller/Ghost

Whisper Network – Chandler Baker

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘We felt guilty if we weren’t feeling guilty enough, so much so that we began to take pride in this ability to function under moral conflict.’

2/5

The Last Days of Jack Sparks – Jason Arnopp

Read in an unknown year

2/5

The Best of Friends – Lucinda Berry

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘But fear stole my choices one at a time until I didn’t have any left.’

2/5

How I Lost You – Jenny Blackhurst

Read in an unknwon year

2/5

The Stranger Within – Kathryn Croft

Read in an unknown year

2/5
The Bone Collector – Jeffrey Deaver

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘We have years to converse with someone, to blurt and rant, to explain our desires and anger and regrets – and oh how we squander those moments.’

4.5/5

The Girl Before – J. P. Delaney

Read in an unknown year

2/5

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Read in an unknown year

4/5

Dark Places – Gillian Flynn

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘It was surprising that you could spend hours in the middle of the night pretending things were okay, and know in thirty seconds of daylight that simply wasn’t so.’

2/5

Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘I felt swollen with potential tears, like a water balloon filled to burst. Begging for a pin prick.’

3/5

Black Eyed Susans – Julia Haeberlin

Read in 2018

3.5/5

Scrublands – Chris Hammer

Read in 2019

3/5

The Dry – Jane Harper

Read in an unknown year

4/5

Force of Nature – Jane Harper

Read in 2018

3/5

The Lost Man – Jane Harper

Read in 2019

3/5

The Survivors – Jane Harper

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘We need to be looking out for each other, not at each other.’

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

Read in an unknown year

3/5

The Wife Between Us – Greer Hendricks

Read in and unknown year

2/5

Still Lives – Maria Hummel

Read in 2019

3/5

The Rumour – Lesley Kara

Read in 2019

2/5

Good Me, Bad Me – Ali Land

Read in an unknown year

2/5

Someone We Know – Shari Lapena

Read in 2019

2/5

The End of Her – Shari Lapena

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘When trust goes, how quickly love disappears and self-preservation takes over.’

2/5

The Basement – Stephen Leather

Read in an unknown year

3.5/5

Since We Fell – Dennis Lehane

Read in an unknown year

2/5

The Guilty Party – Mel McGrath

Read in 2019

3/5

Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

Read in an unknown year

4/5

Truly, Madly, Guilty – Liane Moriarty

Read in an unknown year

2/5

The Huband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty

Read in an unknown year

3/5

Apples Never Fall – Liane Moriarty

Read in 2022

One of those reads that provide the perfect easeful distraction in the moment, with a forgettable storyline and predictable ending.

2.5/5

The Hypnotist’s Love Story – Liane Moriarty

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘It’s amazing how friends can slip through your fingers, how your social network can vanish like it never existed.’

2/5

The Last Anniversary – Liane Moriarty

Read in 2019

2/5

The Dangerous Kind – Deborah O’Connor

Read in 2019

2/5

The Image of You – Adele Parks

Read in an unknown year

2/5

The Stranger in my Home – Adele Parks

Read in an unknown year

2/5
The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell

Read in 2019

A haunting ghost story whose environment and characters evoked fearful chills whilst reading, the kind not felt since the Goosebumps series as a kid.

5/5

Bone China – Laura Purcell

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘Ignorant people always fancied that ghosts appeared as shrouded ghouls. Anyone who had suffered loss could tell them differently. Sounds and smells haunted with more persistence, dragged you backwards in a way that nothing else could.’

4/5
The Shape of Darkness – Laura Purcell

Read in 2022

Some favourite words: ‘People did say, when photographs first appeared, that there was danger in having your image captured. Part of your soul would remain forever imprisoned in that glass lens. Sit for too many and you might be… depleted.’

4.5/5

The Alice Network – Kate Quinn

Read in an unknown year

2/5

The Kind Worth Killing – Peter Swanson

Read in an unknown year

3.5/5

The Girl with a Clock for a Heart – Peter Swanson

Read in an unknown year

3/5

Rules for Perfect Murders – Peter Swanson

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘I wasn’t prepared for the soul-crushing minutiae of life. The bills. The food preparation. The slow dawning realisation that adults live in uninteresting bubbles of their own making.’

3.5/5

All the Beautiful Lies – Peter Swanson

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘Life was restarts, one after another, and some were good and some weren’t.’

3/5

Before She Knew Him – Peter Swanson

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘I am a happy person, always have been. But that’s just my personality, which has nothing to do with this broken brain that periodically and very convincingly tells me that I’m a worthless person.’

2/5

The Accident – Cally Taylor

Read in an unknown year

2/5

Critical Incidents – Lucie Whitehouse

Read in 2019

3/5

Fiction – Drama

Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Read in an unknown year

5/5
Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Read in an unknown year

5/5
Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Read in 2019

4.5/5
Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Have regular hours for work and play, make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well.’

5/5

Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton

Read in 2019

3/5

Ghosts – Dolly Alderton

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘I’ve found everything really difficult recently. And I can’t work out if this is just a tricky period or whether this is what adulthood is now– disappointment and worry.’

4/5
Abandon – Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘A man makes a woman realise she’s a woman; a woman makes her realise she’s human.’

4.5/5

The Growing Pains of Jennifer Ebert, Aged 19 Going on 91 – Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay

Read in an unknown year

2/5

My Sister, The Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite

Read in 2019

4/5

The Manifesto on How to be Interesting – Holly Bourne

Read in an unknown year

2/5

Pretending – Holly Bourne

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘It only works for me in the first two weeks of my period cycle. But then again, that’s the case with every positive thing in my life.’

4/5
Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: “Being brave isn’t the same as being okay,” my mum said quietly.’

4.5/5
The Alchemist – Paulo Coehlo

Read in an unknown year

4.5/5

The Summer of Impossible Things – Rowan Coleman

Read in 2018

2/5

The Boston Girl – Anita Diamant

Read in 2018

2/5

The Book of Hidden Things – Francesco Dimitri

Read in 2018

3/5

Olive – Emma Gannon

Read in 2022

A throughly readable book, Olive providing that rare character of a woman who doesn’t want children. Unfortunately, she falls in love with a man with a teenage daughter who apparently provides Olive with ‘a newfound responsibility, something she’s been forever running away from’ and that kind of ruined it for me.

Some favourite words: ‘the answers to modern life’s big questions were normally found in Boots.’

3.5/5

The Man I Think I Know – Mike Gayle

Read in an unknown year

2/5

Bridget and Joan’s Diary – Bridget Golightly and Joan Hardcastle

Read in 2018

3/5

When All Is Said – Anne Griffin

Read in 2019

3/5
Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi

Read in 2018

5/5
Transcendent Kingdom – Yaa Gyasi

Read in 2022

I might have enjoyed this even more than homegoing. So strong is the characterisation and setting that I feel as though I’ve been and met all of these people.

Some favourite words: ‘I started to feel like I didn’t have a self to gather ahold of, or rather that I had a million selves, too many to gather.’

5/5

The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder – Sarah J Harris

Read in 2019

3/5

The Keeper of Lost Things – Ruth Hogan

Read in 2018

4/5

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘There are days when I feel so lightly connected to the earth that the threads that tether me to the planet are gossamer thin, spun sugar. A strong gust of wind could dislodge me completely, and I’d lift off and blow away, like one of those seeds in a dandelion clock.’

4/5
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

Read in an unknown year

5/5
A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

Read in an unknown year

5/5

And the Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini

Read in 2019

4/5

An American Marriage – Tayari Jones

Read in 2019

4/5
The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd

Read in 2018

4.5/5

The Mars Room – Rachel Kushner

Read in 2019

3/5
Long Division – Kiese Laymon

Read in 2021

This is not the sort of book you can resist purchasing since when you turn it over for a window into its contents, you’re met instead by a copy of the cover upside down. Leafing through the pages, you soon realise that the book is written in two halves that means you’ll read from one side of the book and then the other. The dialogue and mannerisms of the characters fast make them your acquaintances. Still now, I can see their streets, their houses, and hear their voices. The time travel becomes almost incidental to the experience of getting to know these characters. This is not the kind of book you can easily explain. The plot and structure does not follow convention and will repeatedly surprise you to the point where you exclaim aloud, ‘what the…?’ and your partner will harumph in frustration at your familiar reply, ‘This book is SO good. I can’t possibly explain. You’ll just have to read it.’

Some favourite words: ‘The ellipsis always knows something more came before it and something more is coming after it. It connects sentences, but it holds space for itself, too.’

5/5

The Beekeeper of Aleppo – Christy Lefteri

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘In Syria there is a saying: inside the person you know, there is a person you do not know.’

4/5

No One Is Talking About This – Patricia Lockwood

Read in 2022

I spent most of this book feeling disoriented by the fragments of social media goings on and real life happenings. This was at least representative of modern life where nothing is fully committed to, complete presence of mind and body is rare, and actual life makes a mockery of what we choose to invest so much of our time in.

Some favourite words: ‘When a dog runs to you and nudges against your hand for love and you say automatically, I know, I know, what else are you talking about except the world?’

2.5/5
How Beautiful We Were – Imbolo Mbue

Read in 2022

Gifted by Mainstreet Trading Company, Scottish Borders, as part of their Diverse Voices Book Subscription.

Set in the village of Kosawa, this is a fictional tale of corruption and colonialism, of justice, identity and legacy. Its echoes of the present mean that whilst its characters are imagined, its message is all too real.

Some favourite words: ‘…we don’t believe in such absolutes. What sense is there in having total certainty that something is one way and no other way? Who has lived through all the years the earth has existed and seen all possibilities?’

5/5
Tokyo Ueno Station – Yu Miri

Read in 2022

Some favourite words: ‘To speak is to stumble, to hesitate, to detour and hit dead ends. To listen is straightforward. You can always just listen.’

5/5

How to Build a Girl – Caitlin Moran

Read in an unknown year

4/5

What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘It reminded her of her school reports with… comments like, ‘A quiet student. Needs to contribute more in class’… Alice had yearned to be a little disruptive, but she couldn’t work out how you got started.’

3/5
The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison

Read in 2022

Gifted by Mainstreet Trading Company, Scottish Borders, as part of their Diverse Voices Book Subscription.

An unflinching exploration of the various oppressions of beauty within a context of systemic racism, poverty and gender discrimination.

Some favourite words: ‘Beauty was not simply something to behold; it was something one could do.’

5/5

Ghost Wall – Sarah Moss

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘you must want to do something, there must be something you like, a starting point. I like reading…Um, going for walks? Nothing anyone’d pay me for.’

4/5

The Taliban Cricket Club – Timeri N Murari

Read in 2018

3.5/5

Girl – Edna O’Brien

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘In that moment of unalloyed hope and happiness, it seemed to me that those rays were pouring into the darkest dimensions of the land itself.’

3.5/5
The Housekeeper and the Professor – Yoko Ogawa

Read in 2022

The beauty of numbers, human connection and a book that has cemented Yoko Ogawa as one of my all-time favourites.

Some favourite words: ‘I needed the sense that this world was somehow propping up the visible one, that this one, true line extended infinitely, without width or area, confidently piercing the shadows. Somehow, this line would help me find peace.’

5/5

Paper Aeroplanes – Dawn O’Porter

Read in an unknown year

3/5

The Cows – Dawn O’Porter

Read in 2018

3/5

So Lucky – Dawn O’Porter

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘I hate how the male gaze is still more powerful than a woman’s self-worth.’

3.5/5

The Lido – Libby Page

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘When she watches the films she is not alone, she is part of something bigger, one nameless face in a large audience of nameless faces.’

3.5/5
Rebirth – Kamal Ravikant

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Fear and faith., The one you dance with determines your life.’

5/5

Daisy Jones and the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘I think you have to have faith in people before they earn it. Otherwise it’s not faith, right?’

3/5

Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: “I don’t need you to be mad that it happened. I need you to be mad that it just like… happens.”

4/5
An Act of Defiance – Irene Sabatini

Read in 2022

An intimate and painful story of love in a climate of political conflict.

Some favourite words: ”The only thing you can change about the past is the impact it has on you now. That’s the only power you have over it.’

5/5
The Bokseller of Kabul – Åsne Seierstad

Read in an unknown year

4.5/5

Hotel World – Ali Smith

Read in an unknown year

4/5

Bricking It – Nick Spalding

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘When it comes to house building, most of the money gets spent on stuff that will end up being invisible.’

2/5

Logging Off – Nick Spalding

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘If you just let life come at you every now and again, you might be pleasantly surprised-and you might find you enjoy yourself a lot more.’

3.5/5

Torch – Cheryl Strayed

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘Out here in the real world, where love had the luxury of being diffused and sheltered from itself.’

4/5

The Seven 1/2  Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

Read in 2019

4/5
Sing, Unburied, Sing – Jesmyn Ward

Read in 2018

4.5/5
The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead

Read in an unknwon year

5/5
The Nickel Boys – Colson Whitehead

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘If it is true for you, it is true for someone else, and you are no longer alone.’

4.5/5

Fiction – Dystopian/Science fiction

The Power – Naomi Alderton

Read in an unknown year

4.5/5
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Read in an unknown year

5/5

The Testaments – Margaret Atwood

Read in 2019

4/5

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

Read in 2019

4/5
The School for Good Mothers – Jessamine Chan

Read in 2022

Some favourite words: ‘She thought she would’ve become a different person if she’d grown up near mountains, believed that where you grew up determined your destiny.’

4.5/5

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘For there to be betrayal, there would have to have been trust first.’

4/5

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘You’ve got to go through it to get to the end of it.’

4/5

Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.’

3/5

Vox – Christina Dalcher

Read in 2018

I enjoyed the premise of a world where women are limited to 100 words a day but the reality, and ending, didn’t quite live up to its possibility.

2/5

Femlandia – Christina Dalcher

Read in 2022

Began promisingly with a woman and her daughter navigating a dystopian world. Exclusionary tone and couldn’t maintain the intrigue for me.

0.5/5
They – Kay Dick

Read in 2022

The author creates the most beautiful scenery that is entirely and wonderfully at odds with the disturbing and sinister activities taking place. It took me a while to decide what I thought about the book, my love for it crept up on me. Two years after its original publication in 1977, ‘They’ was out of print. Lost for 40 years, I for one am grateful for its discovery and re-publication.

Some favourite words: ‘The day was light-hearted. A wind, slight and soft on the skin, enhanced rather than reduced the sun’s warmth. Plumes of foaming waves surfaced like fresh paint on the sea. A day for falling in love.’

5/5
The Reader on the 6.27 – Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

Read in 2018

The way this story was written utterly transported me and I think I’ll remember Guylain forever as if I have met him.

5/5

The Circle – Dave Eggers

Read in 2019

4/5

Lord of the Flies – William Goulding

Read in an unknown year

4/5

The Radleys – Matt Haig

Read in 2019

3/5
How to Stop Time – Matt Haig

Read in 2018

4.5/5

The Last Family in England – Matt Haig

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Whereas dogs can learn to suppress their instincts, for humans there is no hope.’

3/5

The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

Read in 2020

A reminder that life can take many paths and we lose the joy of the one we’re in when we inhabit comparison to the possible.

Some favourite words: ‘Aim to be you. Aim to look and act and think like you. Aim to be the truest version of you. Embrace that you-ness. Endorse it. Love it. Work hard at it.’

4/5
The Unit – Ninni Holmqvist

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘I hadn’t forgotten that feeling of being abruptly pushed out of a close circle to some distant periphery.’

5/5

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Read in an unknown year

4/5

The Last – Hanna Jameson

Read in 2019

3.5/5
Before the Coffee Gets Cold – Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Read in 2022

I committed the worst error of not packing enough books for holiday. I ran out and had to raid the stock in the cottage. I recognised this title as one oft recommended to me and one long-resisted to avoid the hype. I couldn’t have loved it more. Time-travelling with heart.

Some favourite words: ‘Water flows from high places to low places. That is the nature of gravity. Emotions also seem to act according to gravity. When in the presence of someone with whom you have a bond, and to whom you have entrusted your feelings, it is hard to lie and get away with it. The truth just wants to come flowing out. This is especially the case when you are trying to hide your sadness or vulnerability. It is much easier to conceal sadness from a stranger, or from someone you don’t trust.’

5/5
Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe – Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Read in 2022

Having run out of books on holiday and reading the first in this series, I was thrilled to find the second in a local bookshop and devoured more tales from this cafe immediately. When can I visit?

Some favourite words: ‘We can never truly see into the hearts of others. When people get lost in their own worries, they can be blind to the feelings of those most important to them.’

5/5
The Stand – Stephen King

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there… and still on your feet.’

5/5

The Stepford Wives – Ira Levin

Read in an unknown year

3/5
A History of Bees – Maja Lunde

Read in 2018

A novel that reads like a true story of bees through time and what a post-bee future might look like.

5/5
Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandell

Read in 2019

5/5
The Psychology of Time Travel – Kate Mascarenhas

Read in 2019

4.5/5
The Road – Cormac McCarthy

Read in 2018

A colleague recommended this years ago and I resisted but really shouldn’t have. It made me realise how much I love post-apocalyptic fiction and the scenes depicted will stay with me forever.

5/5
Gather The Daughters – Jennie Melamed

Read in 2019

4.5/5
A Deadly Education – Naomi Novik

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘I love having existential crises at bedtime, it’s so restful.’

4.5/5

The Last Graduate – Naomi Novik

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘The same kind of calm as going through a crying jag and coming out the other side, where you know nothing’s changed and it’s all still horrible but you can’t cry forever, so there’s nothing to do but go on.’ 

4/5
The Memory Police – Yoko Ogawa

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘One after another, he tossed pebbles into the swamp of my mind, but instead of coming to rest on the bottom, they continued to drift deeper and deeper down without end.’

5/5
Blindness – Jose Saramago

Read in 2019

This apocalyptic novel had a unique story and was told in a deliberate and captivating way.

5/5
Death at Intervals – Jose Saramago

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘Trusting in the oft-praised wisdom of time, which tells us that there will always be a tomorrow in which to resolve the problems that today seem insoluble.’

4.5/5

Everything you Ever Wanted – Luiza Sauma

Read in 2019

4/5
Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan

Read in 2018

A fantastical secret society that lies at the heart of a seemingly ordinary 24 hour bookstore.

5/5
Self Care – Leigh Stein

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘You could track your meditation minutes and ounces of water consumed and… see who among your friends was best at prioritizing #metime, based on how many hours a day they spent on the app.’

4.5/5
The Age of Miracles – Karen Walker Thompson

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘My friendships were disintegrating. Things were coming apart. It was a rough crossing, the one from childhood to the next life. And as with any other harsh journey, not everything survived.’

5/5
The Dreamers – Karen Walker Thompson 

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘I hadn’t forgotten that feeling of being abruptly pushed out of a close circle to some distant periphery.’

4.5/5
84K – Catherine Webb

Read in 2019

4.5/5

The Natural Way of Things – Charlotte Wood

Read in 2020

‘Some favourite words: This dull fear and hatred of her body. It had bloomed inside her all her life, purged but regrowing, unstoppable, every month.’

4/5

The Chrysalids – John Wyndham 

Read in 2018

A short tale with morals about how we live and treat those different to ourselves.

4/5
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Read in an unknown year

5/5
The Angel’s Game – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Read in an unknown year

4.5/5

The Prisoner of Heaven – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Read in an unknown year

4/5

The Watcher in the Shadows – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Read in 2018

4/5
The Prince of Mist – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Read in 2019

4.5/5
The Midnight Palace – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Read in 2018

4.5/5
Marina – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘A good friend once told me that problems are like cockroaches…If you bring them out into the light, they get scared and leave.’

4.5/5

Fiction – Picturebooks

The Worrysaurus – Rachel Bright

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Worrysaurus liked it when he knew what lay ahead.’

4/5
Dare – Lorna Gutierrez

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Dare to see when others don’t. Dare to speak when others won’t.’

4.5/5

The Girl and the Dinosaur – Hollie Hughes

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Happily together, the friends go to the sea, to bob with boats and fishes, their spirits wild and free.’

4/5

The Boy, the Mole the Fox – Charlie Mackesy

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: “I think everyone is just trying to get home,” said the mole.’

4/5
Letters from Father Christmas – J. R. R. Tolkein

Read in an unknown year

5/5
What The Road Said – Cleo Wade

Read in 2022

As the main character takes a journey on a road, you learn quickly that their travels won’t necessarily be easy but that there will be lessons and beauty to be discovered along the way. The book is one to return to when a reminder is needed that you have all the strength you need to continue your own journey through life, whatever it may entail.

Some favourite words: ‘The road then raised me up and said, all things grow and change. That is the magic of being alive. You, too, will find your wings. You, too, will bloom. No living thing is meant to stay the same.’

5/5

Fiction – Poetry

Thinking with Trees – Jason Allen-Paisant

Read in 2021

This is a poetry collection that I devoured in a single sitting, immersing myself in the woodland and countryside Jason describes. I’m yet to find poems – or indeed any writing – that better describes the embodied sensation of travelling on foot beneath a canopy of leaves. I may have loved it all the more since Jason lives in Yorkshire, and my beloved Leeds at that. Jason asks the reader to question who belongs in this green and pleasant land as he narrates his out of place experience as a black man occupying these predominantly white spaces. The juxtaposition of poems that describe his opposite and at home experience of Jamaica’s woodland allows us to notice and question the privilege afforded by both class and race to enjoy nature in the UK.

Some favourite words: ‘now I am walking through the forest/ now I am penetrating the slow composition/ of what makes me/ standing/ spreading/ deepening’

5/5

Love Her Wild – Atticus

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Love is diving headfirst into someone else’s confusion and finding it all makes sense.’

2.5/5

Diary of a Somebody – Brian Bilston

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘It’s a dangerous business going into a bookshop. You step across the threshold, and if you don’t stay focused, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’

4/5
Songs of Innocence and Experience – William Blake

Read in an unknown year

4.5/5
Moonrise – Sarah Crossan

Read in 2019

4.5/5
Tomorrow is Beautiful – Various (chosen by Sarah Crossan)

Read in 2022

Described as a collection of poems to ‘comfort, uplift and delight’, it didn’t disappoint. It will forever be a special book as it contains my first poem friend. Read more about my encounter here.

Some favourite words: too many to mention!

5/5
Wild Embers: Poems of Rebellion, Fire and Beauty – Nikita Gill

Read in 2019

This is a collection I return to over and over when I need words of strength and courage.

5/5

Your Heart is the Sea – Nikita Gill

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘To love yourself should be no quiet affair, but a loud uprising.’

3/5
Where Hope Comes From – Nikita Gill

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘…didn’t anyone ever tell you that endurance, that resilience, that strength looks so different on us all? On some it looks like still waters and on others it looks like a dam bursting as the water falls.’

3.5/5
Pessimism is for Lightweights: 13 Pieces of Courage and Resistance – Salena Godden

Read in 2022

I came to this collection of poems thanks to the podcast, The Poetry Exchange, where one of the poems was chosen as a friend to one of the guests. Reading the collection and its easy to see why any one of them might become a friend. The words will resonate with anyone who has recognised injustice and found a way to fight it. The collection reminds us of the power we have to ignite change, if only we can connect with our courage. The poem red, in the centre of the collection, is the best poem I’ve read on periods to date with vivid imagery and wry humour. The collection contains an additional pamphlet where the ‘Pessimism is for lightweights’ poem is translated into Old English. What I loved most about this were the set of notes provided in the back where Emily Cotman describes the language choices they’ve made since any translation requires careful decision making to locate a suitable word that expresses the original intention. All translations should be accompanied by the transparency of one’s choices.

Some favourite words: 

‘There is power and strength in optimism

To have faith and to stay true to you’

5/5

Selected Poems – Sophie Hannah

Read in 2019

1.5/5

Talking to the wild – Becky Hemsley

Read in 2022

A selection of bedtime stories for adults.

Some favourite words: ‘and she sat there for hours / not wanting to leave / for the forest said nothing… / it just let her breathe.’

2.5/5

Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur

Read in an unknown year

3/5

September Love – Lang Leav

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: Legacy: ‘You must believe it is your destiny to create beauty in this world. To shape your life with love and purpose, touch it ever so briefly with your weary hands and leave it a little more cherished than it was.’

3/5

Metamorphosis – Charlotte Lunn

Read in 2022

Some favourite words: ‘be frugal with things

and not with feelings.’

2/5
Plum – Hollie McNish

Read in an unknown year

5/5
Slug – Hollie McNish

Read in 2021

It was about a decade ago when my friend introduced me to the spoken word poetry of Hollie McNish. ‘Mathematics’ was a poem about race that I chose to introduce to my A Level English students all those years ago and I saw how her words landed with them as powerfully as they had with me. Hollie’s latest collection of prose and poetry was read on hot summer’s days in my garden hammock and my neighbours no doubt experienced it with me as I laughed out loud, gasped in recognition and cried a bit too. This collection doesn’t shy from subjects that are bizarrely and unnecessarily taboo in society such as female orgasms, period blood, and women masturbating. Hollie is equally unafraid of addressing unspoken realities of death, parenting and living. It’s a poetry collection that makes you feel less alone in the world.

Some favourite words: view of the world in the three days before my period is due: ‘yes, I might get angry/ and no doubt I will cry,/ for the world in all its glory/ is essentially shite’

5/5

A Fire in My Head – Ben Okri

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘we’re haunted by

an impending apocalypse

because deep down

we know we deserve it’

4/5

A Thousand Mornings – Mary Oliver

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Today I’m flying low and I’m not saying a word. I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.’

3.5/5

Blue Horses – Mary Oliver

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘I was enjoying everything: the rain, the path

     wherever it was taking me, the earth roots 

      beginning to stir.’

3/5

For Every One – Jason Reynolds

Read in 2022

Some favourite words:’One thing I am now certain of / is that this / road less travelled has / in fact / been traveled by more suckers / than you think.’

3.5/5

Between You and These Bones – F. D. Soul

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Burn the house down in search of yourself. don’t you dare ever stop looking. don’t you dare ever think you won’t be worth the finding.’

3/5

Every Word you Cannot Say – Iain S. Thomas

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘I don’t know if I’ve ever truly felt like the ground beneath me was firm. Things always feel like they’re moving and I never get the chance to catch up to them and when I do, it feels like it all goes too quickly.’

4/5

The Truth of You – Iain S. Thomas

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘I am looking for myself and I am trying not to yell in case I scare myself away.’

3/5
Heart Talk – Cleo Wade

Read in 2019

5/5

Where to Begin – Cleo Wade

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘The voice within you that says, “This is not okay” is a direct call from the basic goodness of your spirit. Pick it up. Every time.’

3.5/5

By the Moon – Jill Wintersteen

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘if ever you feel lost, unsure or insecure: pause, feel your feet on the ground, and remember who the fuck you are.’

3/5

There Are Girls Like Lions: Poems About Being a Woman – Various

Read in 2019

I loved the cover and title of this collection more than its contents. The poems didn’t speak to me as much as I’d have liked, many of them I didn’t remotely understand.

2/5

Poems for a world gone to sh*t – Various

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Why can’t heads have overflow pipes like toilets? If they did I could pull my ear and flush it all out.’ (Lemn Sissay)

4/5

Slam! You’re Gonna Wanna Hear This – Various

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘When your fists are ready to paint faces/ When there is nowhere to confide/ When your skin lingers high above your bones and you’re so out of touch with self, Write.’

3/5
The Poetry Pharmacy: Tried and True Prescriptions for the Heart, Mind and Soul – William Sieghart

Read in 2022

Some favourite words: ‘when we’re grieving, when we’re broken-hearted, and when we find ourselves struggling to understand the things we’re feeling, we long for the connection poetry can provide. To provide the right poem at that crucial moment, one capable of expressing our situation with considerably more elegance than we can ourselves, is to discover a powerful sense of complicity, and that precious realisation: I’m not the only one who feels like this.

5/5

Treelines – Various

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: Woods etc. Alice Oswald – ‘I remember walking once into increasing

woods, my hearing like a widening wound.

first your voice and then the rustling ceasing.

the last glow of rain dead in the ground.’

3.5/5

Fiction – Romance/Comedy

The Shelf – Helly Acton

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Consider your wants. Answer to nobody. Love yourself.’

3/5

Thanks for the Memories – Cecilia Ahern

Read in an unknown year

2/5

Postscript – Cecilia Ahern

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘I found a new and surprising strength inside of me, I found it at the bottom of a dark and lonely place, but I found it. And unfortunately, that’s where we find most of life’s treasures.’

3/5
Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

Read in an unknown year

4.5/5

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason – Helen Fielding

Read in an unknown year

4/5

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy – Helen Fielding

Read in an unknown year

3/5

Bridget Jones’s Baby – Helen Fielding

Read in an unknown year

2.5/5

Standard Deviation – Katherine Heiny

2022

A funny and enjoyable read. Thank you to @whatsarahreadnext for the recommendation.

Some favourite words: ‘Tracing a memory back to its source. Like following a stream through the woods and up a mountain until you find the spring trickling from a rock and you clear away the dead brown leaves of the intervening years and the water flows as sweetly as ever.’

3.5/5

Just the Way You Are – Lynsey James

Read in an unknown year

2/5

Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘It won’t be forever. You’ll be in the dark for as long as it takes and then you’ll come out.’

2/5

The Undomestic Goddess – Sophie Kinsella

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘There’s no such thing as ruining your life. Life’s a pretty resilient thing, it turns out.’

3/5

Christmas Shopaholic – Sophie Kinsella

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Whatever the Grinch can steal, that’s not Christmas.’

2/5

Remember Me? – Sophie Kinsella

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘All this time, I wasn’t hungry for success, I was hungry.’

3/5

The Girl you Left Behind – Jojo Moyes

Read in an unknown year

2/5

The Spare Bedroom – Elizabeth Neep

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Some relationships are just meant for a moment, others are meant to be for forever.’

3/5

Us – David Nicholls

Read in an unknown year

3/5

The Flat Share – Beth O’Leary

Read in 2020

Romance

Some favourite words: ‘Am still me, so impulsiveness ran out at potentially crucial moment, to be replaced by familiar, panicked indecision.’

3.5/5

The No Show – Beth O’Leary

Read in 2022

Some favourite words: ‘That sort of kindness, it gets into your bones. Once you’ve felt it, you can’t help but look for ways to pass the feeling on.’

3.5/5

The Road Trip – Beth O’Leary

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘That’s the way with old friends. You understand each other, even when there’s not enough words out there for everything that should be said.’

3/5

The Road Trip – Beth O’Leary

2021

Looks like I read this twice without realising it… can’t have been quite as good as I thought!

Some favourite words: ‘I’ll have no choice but to answer the question of what the hell I’m doing with my life, a question I am at great pains to avoid.’

0.5/5

No, We Can’t Be Friends – Sophie Ranald

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Back then, it had never crossed my mind that it might one day be necessary to unpick the tapestry of our life.’

2/5

Conversations With Friends – Sally Rooney

Read in 2019

3/5

The Worst Best Man – Mia Sosa

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘There’s no single way to be a badass.’

3/5

Fat Chance – Nick Spalding

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘My self-delusion at this point is so rock-solid you could climb up it and plant a flag.’

3/5

The Rebound – Catherine Walsh

Read in 2022

2.5/5
Seven Days in June – Tia Williams

Read in 2022

Strongly recommended by @whatsarahreadnext, I chose to give it a go and I don’t regret it. Immersive characters, environments, and beyond steamy moments.

Some favourite words: ‘The whole afternoon was delicious – so much so that Shane as already nostalgic for it before it had even ended.’

4.5/5

The Perfect Find – Tia Williams

Read in 2022

4/5

Fiction – Short stories

The Thing Around Your Neck – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Read in 2019

5/5

Zikora – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘How you imagine something will be is always worse than how it actually ends up being.’

3/5

Good Bones – Margaret Atwood

Read in 2019

3/5

ROAR – Cecilia Ahern

Read in 2019

3/5

How the Light Gets In – Claire Fisher

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘If you hold the screen right up to your face you can maintain the fiction that you have something really important and personal to attend to.’

1.5/5

Ministry of Moral Panic – Amanda Lee Koe

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Being used to something is such a poor excuse for prolonging anything, but it seems a national pastime, don’t you think? We let ourselves get into the habit of the grind, we let the grind wear us down.’

4/5

Non-fiction – Collections

Decolonising the curriculum: a reading list

A collection of key reading. Updated as new learning takes place. Last updated: November 2022 Defining decolonisation Why I Say ‘Decolonisation is Impossible’   Adebisi. 2019.   Article ‘Without critical thought, representation can become toxic and tokenistic, people could be included into spaces that are not safe for them, spaces

Research engagement: a reading list

A collection of key reading. Updated as new learning takes place. Last updated: November 2022 Critical engagement with research The Open Door: How to be a Research-Sensitive School Abercrombie. Haslam. 2021.  Paper ‘Research evidence has an impact on the culture of the school, shaping ideas of the right way of

Online teacher CPD: a reading list

A collection of key reading. Updated as new learning takes place. Last updated: April 2022 Online teacher CPD Online teacher CPD: principles from research and practice Tyreman. 2021.  Blog ‘The idea that learning is the most important factor in an online learning experience may not surprise many teachers but it’s

Online communities: a reading list

A collection of articles, research, blogs and videos exploring effective practice in the creation of online communities within the education sector and beyond. View and explore

Non-fiction – Becoming/Wellbeing

Burnt Out – Selina Barker

Read in 2021

4.5/5

The Kindness Pact – Domonique Bertolucci

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘They give everyone else their best, only to give themselves their worst.’

2.5/5

Working Hard, Hardly Working – Grace Beverley

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘Substitute saying, ‘I don’t have time’ with ‘it’s not a priority’, and you’ll instantly get closer to the self- accountability needed for discipline and progress.’

2/5
The Gifts of Imperfection – Brené Brown

Read in 2022

A map for exploring the soul. I took my time reading this over a few months, permitting myself to sit with each of the guideposts. I also listened to the ‘Unlocking Us’ podcast episodes as I went. This is a book to return to repeatedly over a lifetime.

Some favourite words: ‘When we value being cool and in control over granting ourselves the freedom to unleash the passionate, goofy, heartfelt, and soulful expressions of who we are, we betray ourselves.’

5/5

The Magic of Sleep – Calm

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?’

2/5

Shine: Rediscovering Your Energy, Happiness and Purpose – Andrew Cope and Gavin Oattes

Read in 2019

3/5
The How – Yrsa Daley-Ward

Read in 2022

Every word pierces a feeling felt but not yet unearthed. A text to be returned to time and time again.

Some favourite words: ‘I can’t hear myself, nor can I think what to do next. I flip-flop. I second-guess myself. I feel unsure. My lack of confidence causes others to lose trust in me.’

5/5
Coasting – Elise Downing

Read in 2022

A tale of adventure that makes you laugh out loud, and dream of your own adventures powered by willpower, generosity and courage.

Some favourite words: ‘In a way that I struggle to fully explain, but which remains very true, the more time I spend outside and the more I moved, the more the world made sense to me.’

5/5

Good Mornings: Morning Rituals for Wellness, Peace and Purpose – Linnea Dunne

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘The morning is the seed that blossoms into what becomes your day.’

3.5/5

The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life – Edith Eger

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘The ultimate key to freedom is to keep becoming who you truly are.’

4/5

What a Time to be Alone: The Slumflower’s Guide to Why You Are Already Enough – Chidera Eggerue

Read in 2019

2/5
After the Rain – Alex Elle

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘I am the gardener of my destiny. Digging dirt and sifting soil. Planting seeds and watching them grow, slowly and with unrushed ease.’

4.5/5

The Miracle Morning – Hal Elrod

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Your entire life changes the day that you decide you will no longer accept mediocrity for yourself.’

2/5

Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig

Read in 2019

3.5/5
Notes on a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig

Read in 2019

4.5/5

The Self-Care Project – Jayne Hardy

Read in 2019

4/5
Motherhood – Sheila Heti

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘There is something threatening about a woman who is not occupied with children. There is something at-loose-ends feelings about such a woman. What is she going to do instead? What sort of trouble will she make?’

5/5

Thrive – Arianna Huffington

Read in 2018

This book shaped my 2018 year and is full of advice for life and work.

4/5

Walking: One Step at a Time – Erling Kagge

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Problems tend to appear in a different light after a walk.’

4/5
Radically Condensed Instructions for Being Just as You Are – Jay Jennifer Matthews

Read in 2022

Some favourite words: ”It is possible to experience the mystery of our dissatisfaction itself – to be intimate with it – and to refuse to abandon it. We are not very good at this. Instead we follow this feeling like a Pied Piper. We allow it to hoodwink us with the illusory promise that if we give it what it wants, it will go away.’

5/5

The Little Book of Ikigai – Ken Mogi

Read in 2018

3.5/5

Sisu – Joanna Nylund

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘An essential part of being able to tap into your sisu, the inner reserve you have but may not be aware of, is silencing all the superfluous noise.’

2.5/5
Do Pause: You Are Not a To Do List – Robert Poynton

Read in 2019

4.5/5

Walk – Sholto Radford

Read in 2019

3/5
Choose Wonder Over Worry – Amber Rae

Read in 2019

4.5/5

If I Could Tell you Just One Thing – Richard Reed

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘I’ve come to appreciate that sometimes a few words of advice can act as cairn stones in life; a wise sentence or two that get you back on course when you’re lost in the fog or stuck in boggy terrain, knowledge from a fellow traveller who can point out the best views of the safest route.’

2/5

Brave, Not Perfect – Reshma Saujani

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Letting go of the fear of being less than perfect is easier than you think. It all comes down to exercising your bravest muscles, one little bit at a time.’

4/5

Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind – Jennifer Shannon

Read in 2018

3/5

You Are a Badass – Jen Sincero

Read in 2019

3.5/5
A Field Guide to Getting Lost – Rebecca Solnit

Read in 2022

A book about the beauty of nature, the joy of adventure, and what can be discovered in getting lost.

Some favourite words: ‘for life is risky and anything less is already loss.’

‘Never to get lost is not to live, not to know how to get lost brings you to destruction, and somewhere in the terra incognita in between lies a life of discovery.’

5/5
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life – Cheryl Strayed

Read in 2018

A selection of letters with advice for your soul.

4.5/5

The Anxiety Journal – Corinne Sweet

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Try tuning out for a while and see how it feels.’

4/5

You are Positively Awesome – Stacie Swift

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘Ask for help when you need it,

Set boundaries in place,

Trust in your journey; life’s not a race.’

3/5

Love for Imperfect Things – Haemin Sunim

Read in 2019

4/5

On Confidence – The School of Life

Read in an unknown year

4/5

Do Breathe – Michael Townsend Williams

Read in 2018

Building a life with space to breathe.

4/5

Do Less, Get More: How to Work Smart and Live Life Your Way – Shaa Wasmund

Read in an unknown year

4/5

First,We Make the Beast Beautiful – Sarah Wilson

Read in 2019

3.5/5

What I Know for Sure – Oprah Winfrey

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘We all get the opportunity to feel wonder every day, but we’ve been lulled into numbness.’

4/5

Non-fiction – Biography/Autobiography

The Bucket: Memories of an Inattentive Childhood – Allan Ahlberg

Read in 2019

4.5/5

Help – Simon Amstell

Read in 2018

4/5

How to Treat People – Molly Case

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘A still patient whose chest is silent is far more frightening than any other sound.’

2.5/5

Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham

Read in 2019

0/5

The Little Big Things – Henry Fraser

Read in 2018

2.5/5

The Panic Years – Nell Frizzell

Read in 2022

‘You can never climb into the skin of it, feel the weight of it, taste the flavour of it, without doing it yourself.’

2/5
All Boys Aren’t Blue – George M. Johnson

Read in 2022

Gifted by Mainstreet Trading Company, Scottish Borders, as part of their Diverse Voices Book Subscription.

A currently banned book in at least 8 different US states, this biography highlights the struggle for identity in a world that rejects you.

Some favourite words: ‘You’ll find that people often use the excuse “it was the norm” when discussing racism,homophobia, and anything else in our history they are trying to absolve themselves of. Saying that something was “a norm” of the past is a way not to have to deal with its ripple effects in the present.’

5/5
This Is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

Read in 2019

4.5/5

Twas the Nighshift Before Christmas – Adam Kay

Read in 2020

3/5
Greenlights – Matthew McConaughey

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘When you can, ask yourself if you want to before you do.’

4.5/5

More than a Woman – Caitlin Moran

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘You outlive the bad times. Happiness comes again, eventually … Just by staying alive. That’s all you have to do.’

3.5/5
One of Them – Musa Okwonga

Read in 2021

This book will leave you in no doubt – should you have ever had any – that systemic racism exists in our education system, in a place where privilege affords the individuals who possess it much distance from reality. It’s of little wonder that the sneering and discriminatory political landscape of today can be met by any number of quotes from this book. Unlike other biographies I’ve read, where a life is recounted as if observed from a distance, often through a rose-tinted lens, this account of a life is far more honest. The memories are presented as snapshots that hang heavily in time, encased in the sensations and realisations that arrive with the passing years. This memoir is not one that will necessarily nourish you but it is one that will provide a response when you wonder, ‘where do they get the audacity?’

Some favourite words: ‘The idea that you can simply be overwhelmed by your circumstances is utterly alien to them. This is not a system that fails them, and so they not only learn to trust it but to treat it as the norm. It quickly becomes the prism through which they see everything.’

5/5

Becoming – Michelle Obama

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.’

4/5

The Descent of Man – Grayson Perry

Read in 2018

3.5/5

Yes Please – Amy Poehler

Read in an unknown year

2/5

Straight Outta Crawley – Romesh Ranganathan

Read in 2019

4/5

A Nurse’s Story – Christie Watson

Read in 2019

2.5/5

She Come by it Natural – Sarah Smarsh

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘The woman who speaks about feminism is not always the one truly insisting on equality behind closed doors.’

3.5/5

Non-fiction – Diary

The Diary of a Bookseller – Shaun Bythell

Read in 2018

A humorous read about the up and downs of running a bookshop, especially memorable because I read it whilst running a bookshop in the town where it was written and I met the author and many of the characters he mentions.

5/5

Confessions of a Bookseller – Shaun Bythell

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Is it called The Bookshop because it’s full of books?’

4/5

Seven Kinds of People you Find in Bookshops – Shaun Bythell

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘Those wretched creatures with whom we’re forced to interact on a daily basis, and who – as I write this under coronavirus lockdown – I miss like long-lost friends.’

2.5/5

Non-fiction – Education

The Teacher Gap – Rebecca Allen and Sam Sims

Read in 2019

5/5

Wish We Knew What to Say – Dr Pragya Agarwal

Read in 2022

This book addresses how to talk with children about race in a way that doesn’t shame, silence or allow colour blindness to take hold. There are practical suggestions and age-related sections to navigate conversations. The children most often marginalised by society are centred in this text and there is an emphasis throughout on talking and learning ‘with’ rather than ‘to, an approach that in itself would  go some way to dismantling some of the inequities in society.

Some favourite words: ‘We cannot just introduce diverse books and media. We also have to model these behaviours and dismantle and contest racism and ingrained biases in our own words and actions.’

4/5

Diversity in Schools – Bennie Kara

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘Once you have a grasp of the language of diversity, ensure that your students have a good working knowledge of how language can define, erase, problematise, stigmatise, and celebrate difference.’

4/5
Decolonising the History Curriculum: Euro-centrism and Primary Schooling – Dr Marlon Moncrieffe

Read in 2021

This exploration of the primary history curriculum reveals the exclusionary impact of Eurocentrism. The dominant discourse is not representative of the past since it reproduces stories from a predominantly white British perspective. This can never be the true story of the British Isles since it neglects centuries of migration and settlement, and it discards the achievements of countless individuals. This book sets out powerful reasons to redesign the curriculum, and provides plentiful examples of how this might look. The book considers how the theoretical lenses provided by historical consciousness might support teachers to decolonise the primary curriculum. There is a focus on how this work might begin with training teachers and the book advocates for long-term and systemic change to the education system. As Marlon asks, ‘why should young people engage with a curriculum from which they are ignored and absent, or if present are often cast as victims of slavery and oppression’?

Some favourite words: ‘Historical consciousness… seeks to provide a full awareness of the historicity of everything present and the relativity of all opinions through complementary stories; competing stories; and stories that clash with the single dominant version of the past (Sexias, 2004).’

5/5

Educational Research: Taking the Plunge – Phil Wood and Joan Smith

Read in 2018

An essential guide for teachers looking to undertake small-scale research in the classroom.

4/5
Unexpected Leader – Iesha Small

Read in 2019

This book is filled with personal narratives that demonstrate the importance of following your inner compass, engaging in continuous learning, connecting with others, and having courage in your differences. Education needs people who lead with their values and this book is filled with them; each making a unique contribution to their context and to this book. Many of the challenges, approaches, and stories resonated with me and I wish I’d had the book to draw strength from when I first entered a leadership position so that I could have made healthier decisions. I loved it – lots of smiles, tears, and notes made.

5/5
Understanding How We Learn – Yana Weinstein, Megan Sumeracki and Oliver Caviglioli

Read in 2018

An accessible guide to the evidence-informed principles of cognitive science that practices what it preaches.

4.5/5

Non-fiction – Essays

Dear Ijeawele – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

Read in 2018

Advice for feminists everywhere, whether you have a daughter or not.

4.5/5
We Should all be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

Read in 2019

5/5
Misfits: A Personal Manifesto – Michaela Coel

Read in 2022

Personal memoir that packs an emotional punch and a clear call to action.

Some favourite words: ‘I’ve decided to embrace as many perspectives as I can, and be brave enough to update my beliefs, and discover I’m not always right. What a brilliant thing, to discover we’ve been wrong about some things, what a brilliant thing it is to grow.’

5/5

I Feel Bad About my Neck – Nora Ephron

Read in 2019

3.5/5
I Remember Nothing – Nora Ephron

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘I try to figure out what I really want to do every day, I say to myself, If this is one of the last days of my life, am I doing exactly what I want to be doing?’

4.5/5

This Is London – Ben Judah

Read in 2019

0/5
The Masters Tools will Never Dismantle his House – Audre Lorde

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘We do not have to romanticize our past in order to be aware of how it seeds our present. We do not have to suffer the waste of of an amnesia that robs us of the lessons of the past rather than permits us to read them with pride as well as deep understanding.’

5/5

Race – Toni Morrison

Read in 2019

4/5
World of Wonders – Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Read in 2021

This series of essays in World of Wonders will fill you with, well, wonder. The living creatures introduced are described in a way that evokes the curiosity of childhood and fills you with the joy of learning new things. Love for life leaps from the page and reminds you of all the reasons you love the natural world too. The book weaves together anecdotes about the author’s life and ancestors with the tales of creatures it’s difficult to comprehend actually exist. The poetic words are made all the more immersive by the illustrations from Fumi Nakamura that accompany the essays. I’ve never seen fireflies, an axolotl or a blooming corpse flower yet if asked the question, I’d have to wonder whether I had.

Some favourite words: ‘There is a time for stillness, but who hasn’t also wanted to scream with delight at being outdoors? To simply announce themselves and say, I’m here, I exist?’

5/5
Intimations – Zadie Smith

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘I’m not the only person on this earth who has no idea what life is for, nor what is to be done with all this time aside from filling it.’

5/5

The Colossus of New York – Colson Whitehead

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘There are eight million naked cities in this naked city – they dispute and disagree. The New York City you live in is not my New York City, how could it be? This place multiplies when you’re not looking.’

4/5

As You Are: A guide to letting go of comparison and seeing the good stuff inside – Various (Department Store for the Mind

Read in 2019

3.5/5
Walking in the rain: Setting out on two feet can lead to wonderful journeys of the mind

Read in 2022

A collection of essays that speak to the everyday joys of walking, mirroring my own experiences in unexpected ways.

Some favourite words: ‘If anxiety has a rhythm, then it is the constant, uneasy pitter-patter of consciousness circling itself. I found the rhythm of my walking to be its partner, and its antidote. My own footsteps. Steady, slow, repetitive. When I move this way, something shifts inside me.’

4.5/5
Cupcakes and Kalashnikovs – Various

Read in an unknown year

4.5/5

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Stories – Various

Read in 2019

4/5

Life Honestly – Various

Read in 2019

3/5
Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World – Various

Read in 2022

This collection of essays provides commentary on the politics, conflict and life in parts of the Arab world from the perspective of Arab women. The courage, dignity and resilience of these Sahafiya – female journalists – move us beyond the singular narratives of Western reporting that narrow our view of the world. Seen through the eyes of these 19 Shafiya, the parts of the Arab world represented here are filed with love and a commitment to truth. How much better news coverage would be if it were decolonised.

Some favourite words: ‘Starting anew is daunting. It’s more than I can bear. There are questions I carry with me every second…. Is this me? Am I doing what others want from me, or what I want?’ Asmaa al-Ghoul.

5/5

The Good Immigrant – Various, Edited by Nikesh Shukla

Read in 2019

4/5
The Suffragettes – Various

Read in 2019

3/5
Women on Nature – Various

Read in 2022

This is a collection of fiction and non-fiction excerpts and poetry from over 100+ women on the natural world in the UK. So much of the story of our landscape and its creatures has been narrated by men that it’s beyond refreshing to engage in an entire anthology packed with the voices of women.

Some favourite words: ‘I am off Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for a while. I will not be releasing these moments out into the ether as any post of Insta-story; no tweets will pin this moment to any wall. I want to see how it feels to just be in the place – free from the weight I have come to feel on my chest – free from the burden of clenching it all up into a living memory of light; or whatever it is I think that I am doing when I hold that small machine so close to me in my tight and tightening hands.’ Kerri ní Dochartaigh.

5/5

Non-fiction – History/Travel

Wanderers: A History of Women Walking – Kerri Andrews

Read in 2022

Learning about these women’s walking lives spoke to my soul. Felt disappointed that it was predominantly Western white women doing mammoth walks rather than the joyful wandering I’d anticipated.

Some favourite words: ‘…access to profound and unsettling questions about identity, about the nature of self, and the essence of our purpose as human beings on this earth. This introspection is facilitated by the physical act of walking.’

3/5

Hidden Figures – Margot Lee Shetterley

Read in 2018

3.5/5
The Places in Between – Rory Stewart

Read in an unknown year

5/5

Forgotten Women: The Leaders – Zing Tsjeng

Read in 2018

Stories about women from history, many of whom you’ve never heard of and should have.

3/5

Non-fiction – Leadership/Productivity

The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey – Ken Blanchard

Read in 2020

This book gave me a useful blueprint for delegation at a time I needed it the most.

Some favourite words: ‘We dilute our effectiveness by “doing more efficiently those things that shouldn’t be done in the first place.”

4/5

The Bullet Journal Method – Ryder Carroll

Read in 2019

4/5

Managing Oneself – Peter Drucker

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘One should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence.’

1/5
It doesn’t have to be crazy at work – Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Read in 2022

This book, whilst written from the perspective of a technology company, contained a multitude of sane advice for leaders and organisations. I blogged about it here.

Some favourite words: ‘chaos should not be the natural state at work.’

4.5/5

The One Thing – Gary Keller

Read in 2018

3.5/5
Strengthsfinder 2.0 – Tom Rath

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘You cannot be anything you want to be – but you can be a lot more of who you already are.’

4.5/5

How Google Works – Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg

Read in an unknown year

4/5

Do/ Disrupt: Change the Status Quo. Or Become It – Mark Shayler

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘We often find ourselves stuck in a river of thinking due to fear or habit. The key is to break this thinking yourself before it is broken by something else.’

2.5/5
How to Think More Effectively: A guide to greater productivity, insight and creativity – The School of Life

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Effective thinking isn’t about ‘working hard’ in any brute or rote sense; it is about learning to spot, defend, nurture and grow our fleeting, tentative periods of insight.’

4.5/5

Non-fiction – Online learning/Web design

People Powered: How Communities Can Supercharge Your Business, Brand, and Teams – Jono Bacon

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Effective community strategy… is preventative medicine.’

2.5/5
Design for How People Learn – Julie Dirksen

Read in 2018

A text that continues to influence my approach to designing learning today.

4.5/5

Community Building on the Web – Amy Jo Kim 

Read in 2018

3.5/5

Don’t Make me Think – Steve Krug

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘If we find something that works, we stick to it. Once we find something that works – no matter how badly – we tend not to look for a better way. We’ll use a better way if we stumble across one, but we seldom look for one.’

3.5/5

Do Design: Why Beauty Is Key to Everything – Alan Moore

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘To have a hungry heart and mind determines what we create.’

2.5/5

The Community Builder Guidebook – Julian Stodd

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘We are effective through our communities, and we are held in the arms of our communities.’

1.5/5

Non-fiction – Politics

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire – Akala

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Good people are not racist, only bad people are. This neat binary is a way of avoiding any real discussion at all.’

4.5/5
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo Lodge

Read in 2018

5/5

Taking Up Space: The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change – Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘It is exhausting that we still cannot have a frank discussion about experiences of structural racism without positioning white people as equal victims of racial discrimination– and it shows the limitations of the language our legislative bodies are using.’

3.5/5

The Art of Disruption: A Manifesto For Real Change – Magid Magid

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘Speaking truth to power. Acting according to our capability and opportunity, whatever that may be, is our collective responsibility.’

4/5

The Guilty Feminist – Deborah Frances-White

Read in 2021

Some favourite words: ‘Guilt can be an invisible gatekeeper that stops us fully including ourselves in rooms of influence – and stops us including others.’

4/5

The Trust will Set you Free but First it will Piss You Off! – Gloria Steinem

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘No wonder studies show that women’s intellectual self-esteem tends to go down with every year of higher education. We’ve been studying our own absence.’

2/5

Non-fiction – True stories

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper – Hallie Rubenhold

Read in 2020

Some favourite words: ‘The poor were judged to be lazy and immoral paupers who refused to do honest work and bred bastards and enormous families while ‘living off handouts.’

3.5/5
The Moth: 50 Extraordinary True Stories

Read in an unknown year

Unbelievable lives lived and moments experienced that took my breath away, made me laugh out loud, and cry uncontrollably.

5/5
The Moth: Occasional Magic – Various

Read in 2019

3.5/5

The Moth: All These Wonders – Various

Read in 2019

4/5