Stories Bookshelf

This bookshelf is built from recommendations by alums as part of the Telling Our Stories Better project. They include poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, from some of 2021's finest book through to classic folk tales and medieval literature, representing some of the best literature, in translation and in Englishes. 

Listed in chronological order, the bookshelf includes some of the most influential works of Jan Morris (1926-2020) and Naseem Khan (1939-2017), both of whom have been profiled through students' research, and Pamela Roberts' Black Oxford (2013), which tells the story of Lady Kofoworola Ademola (née Moore) and numerous other black Oxford scholars. 

Below you can also hear some of our alums talk about their book choices, often turning to their bookcases to be sure of the books they love the most when they could only choose a few.

Hear alums' recommendations

Tina Sang interviews novelist, literary critic and teacher Michael Donkor about two of his recommendations: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of the Yellow Sun (2006) and Virginia Woolf's The Waves (1931).


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Photo credit David Yiu


Hear actress, screen- and song-writer Sian Ejiwunmi-Le Berre talk about some of her recommendations—Fanny Burney's The Wanderer (1814), Diana Wynne Jones' Dogsbody (1975), and Will Storr's The Science of Storytelling (2019)—as well as the authors who didn't make it onto her list because they ought to be so widely read as to go without saying (spoiler alert: the authors are Toni Morrison and Alice Walker).


sian ejiwunmi le berre


Listen to researcher and entrepreneur Sam Gilbert talk about some of the non-fiction and fiction books that have inspired him when writing his own and deliberating over the many excellent choices available for the bookcase! (Sam eventually plumped for Rebecca Solnit's Wanderlust (2000) and Robert Macfarlane's Mountains of the Mind (2003), as well as Danish author Dorthe Nors' short-story collection Wild Swims (published in English translation in 2020), with a special mention for novelist and short-story writer Magnus Mills.)


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Assistant Editor Hannah Chukwu talks about books that have really spoken to her and what they mean to her: Jackie Kay's Red Dust Road (2010), and two Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie books, Half of a Yellow Sun (2006) and Americanah (2013).


A picture of Hannah Chukwu wearing a bright orange top.


BBC Film Development Executive Dionne Farrell explains the currency that some older books can hold, like Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), because 'looking back can also mean looking forward.'


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Listen to novelist and software developer Anthony Good talk about why much older texts like Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales and 1001 Nights can feel more dynamic than more modern literature, alongside his recommendations from nineteenth-century fiction, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1899) and Crime and Punishment (1866) by Fyodor Dostoevsky, with a special mention for twentieth-century novelist J.G. Ballard.


anthony good

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Browse the Bookshelf

You can browse the bookshelf below, or use the Stories Reading List to find these books across the University's libraries.