Black History Month 2020

October is Black History Month and in the Library, we celebrate that with books of course. We have been promoting relevant events on our Twitter account throughout the month, but we also have our own contribution to make.

On Wakelet, we have put together a collection of fiction and non-fiction books for Black History Month, which includes physical books and e-books. You can access the list here. There is a range of classics, recent publications and texts around the Black Lives Matter movement. Recently, we added White privilege – The myth of a post-racial society by Kalwant Bhopal and Akala’s Natives – Race and class in the ruins of empire to our Black History Month Wakelet for example. We also have a Wakelet on Ethnic Diversity and Inclusion, which includes podcasts.

We are always looking for recommendations for what to add, so don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing liaison@sgul.ac.uk.

In this blogpost, Library staff are sharing their thoughts on some of the books in the collection and their book recommendations for Black History Month.

Book reviews

Natives by Akala

Jenni Hughes (Research Publications Assistant)

This is an enlightening, powerful read on how race and class intersect and operate in today’s Britain. Akala’s choice to examine these in tandem deepens and enhances his analysis of both: his early observation that “we are trained to recognise the kinds of racism that tend to be engaged in by poorer people” rather than the larger, more damaging kinds perpetuated by the rich and powerful, for example, clarified a great deal for me about mainstream discourse around race and racism in this country.

Akala’s accounts of his personal experiences of classism and racism support and are supported by his deep knowledge of the history and sociology of race, and his prose slides easily between different registers (academic, vernacular etc), enabling him to communicate his points clearly and incisively. Overall, this is a compelling and very readable analysis drawing on a rich well of knowledge, research, experience and scholarship.

Book cover for Akala's Natives

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

Andy Lacey (Information Assistant)

Reading James Baldwins Giovanni’s Room felt like a whole new world opening up when I first read it as a 17-year-old. A whole world filled with adult gay men, with complicated, messy but joyous lives.

The novel centres on David, an American in France who travels to Paris. He meets Giovanni, a bartender and the two become friends. We are then taken on a journey with them, but also their social sphere. We explore their experiences of social alienation, but also their passions, and attempts to construct a unique space for themselves in the world. This novel is so good at describing homosocial spaces, and exploring how gay men often had to construct new, alternate families. It is also great at examining modern ideas of masculinity, and spotlighting the problems with it. Having been written by a gay black man in 1956, this novel still seems powerful and contemporary even all these years later. Which maybe shows there is still a way to go. Brave, important and completely brilliant.

Book cover for Baldwin's Giovanni's Room

Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch

Georgina Coles (Information Assistant)

I would highly recommend Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch. It’s both a personal account of the author’s struggle with her identity as a British Ghanaian woman and an exploration of the place of racism in British history and identity, and how British society can’t claim to be ‘post-racial’ or ‘colour-blind’ until it confronts the racism inherent in both its imperial past and its present. A fascinating and important book.

Book cover for Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch

A Small Island by Andrea Levy

Karen John-Pierre (NHS and Liaison Manager)

On June 22nd, 1948 the first wave of immigrants from Jamaica arrived at Tilbury Docks on the Empress Windrush. Dressed in their Sunday best and full of hope and pride at finally arriving in the ‘Mother country’, they, and other commonwealth immigrants who followed them, encountered a much more hostile and colder environment than they were expecting.

This is the real-life backdrop to the late Andrea Levy’s award-winning and popular novel, ‘A Small Island’, which charts the incohesive interplay between Hortense and Gilbert, originally from Jamaica, their English landlady, Queenie and her husband, Bernard. Levy gives voice to the different internal journeys they make in this new landscape at the birth of modern multicultural Britain, letting each main character in turn take the reins of the story to reveal different perspectives, hopping between past and present.

In this honest and important book, Levy exams themes such as the effects of Britain’s colonial rule in the Caribbean and India, post-war migration and racism, the framing of interracial relationships, the sadness and heartache of immigrant life as well as the universal themes of love, marriage and hope. As the daughter of a Windrush child, this book struck a huge chord with me: I revelled in the telling of stories largely untold and would urge you to do the same.

Book cover for Small Island by Andrea Levy.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Anne Binsfeld – Liaison Support Librarian (IMBE)

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys is a poetic, raw and magical reading. The author highlights class and race issues, with a strong feminist and anti-colonial twist. Rhys uses the Victorian classic Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and retells it from the point of view of Bertha, the “madwoman in the attic”. Set in Jamaica, Antoinette/Bertha’s story focuses on her youth as the heiress of a crumbling Creole family dynasty. She is married off to a stranger, Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester, who takes her to England and locks her away. As well as addressing patriarchal abuse, Antoinette’s story looks at the intersectionality of mental health issues and racism. A haunting, but beautiful book.

Book cover for Wide Sargasso Sea.

More recommendations

If you are looking for further recommendations for your Black History Month reading, Lawrence Jones (Content and Digital Infrastructure Manager) recommends Passing by Nella Larsen, a book about mixed race women in the US in the 1920s ‘passing’ as white & the stresses they suffer whilst trying to avoid being found out. Louise Davies (Circulation Desk Supervisor) recommends Half of a Yellow sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which is also on our Black History Month Wakelet.

Brenda Cluffer (Information Assistant) really liked Andrea Levy’s Long Song. She says the following about the author’s latest book: “The Long Song talks about the months leading up to the abolition of Slavery in the Island of Jamaica. Andrea Levy manages to bring humour to a rather brutal and tragic time in British history. It tells the story of  a young girl called July and her son who through various events are torn apart by the horrors of this system and the journeys they take in order to survive. The book covers topics of colourism, class, race, landlord and tenant, slave uprisings, abolition of slavery, the role of clergy and rape. A very serious topic but Andrea has the knack of drawing you into the subject and providing the Caribbean old saying ‘take bad something and mek laugh’ into a compelling read.”


Don’t forget to email liaison@sgul.ac.uk with any recommendations around Black History Month you might have. Also, be sure to have a look at our Wakelet where you can find collections around mental wellbeing, LGBTQ+, women in leadership and many more.

St George’s first Careers Week has landed

Banner for St George's careers service

Do you want to know how to succeed and develop in your chosen career path?

Do you want more ideas on where your degree can take you? The obvious and the not so obvious?

Are you looking for career inspiration beyond your specialism?

St George's, University of London medical students

What is happening this week?

Monday 2 March to Wednesday 4 March

Look out for the Careers-themed posts on social media and the odd blog post or two giving hints, tips and links on managing your career – think Explore, Plan, Apply!

Check Canvas to see if your course of study has its own career pages – there is a wealth of information to give you the full picture and a huge advantage in your career planning.

Wednesday 4 March

Meet the Careers Consultants – Social Learning Space, Hunter Wing, 1st floor 11am-2.30pm

Thursday 5 March

Humans in Healthcare – Curve Lecture Theatre, 4pm to 6pm. Please book here.

  • St George’s welcomes people from a range of healthcare specialties to share their lived experiences about staying well in the workplace, coping with their careers and highlighting the issues relating to mental health and the importance of seeking help.  
  • The focus is on workplace well being.
  • Keynote speaker is renowned speaker, Dr Ahmed Hankir, presenting the keynote on The Wounded Healer, bringing his personal story of mental health challenges in the medical profession.
  • It will be a great opportunity to network as well as manage your workplace well being.  
  • Event requires you to book here.
St George's, University of London paramedic science students

The Library is also celebrating Careers Week by having a themed book display around well being at work, mindfulness and stress and career development. Have a look at our curated collections of books around Health and Wellbeing, Careers and Professional Development and Women in Leadership. If you have got any recommendations for us to include, let us know by emailing liaison@sgul.ac.uk

World Physiotherapy Day

This September 8th is World Physiotherapy Day, a global event that aims to celebrate the role that Physiotherapists play in keeping us well, mobile and independent.

Building on the findings of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) World Report on Ageing and Health, the theme for this year’s event is ‘Add life to years’. As our ageing population continues to grow, (with an expected 2 billion people over the age of 60 by the year 2050) the focus of the campaign is the contribution and cost effectiveness of physiotherapy in healthy ageing.

WPTD2016_infographic_A4_FINAL-1

To mark the occasion, we’ve put together a collection of resources available from St George’s Library to our support our students and Physiotherapists in practice. We’ve also highlighted some other useful links, including websites, tweet chats and other social media tools that may be useful in supporting Physiotherapists throughout their career.

Click the image below to view the collection:

FB_WPTD2016_1

You can also explore all of our other curated collections of resources here: https://wakelet.com/@sgullibrary