Discover more book recommendations

Ask a Bookseller: Oliviyah and Carolynn from Afrori Books

Bookshops are the very best places to go for book recommendations – and booksellers are the friendliest, most knowledgeable of readers!

Oliviyah and Carolynn from Afrori Books in Brighton have joined us to answer your questions and share their favourite picks.

Want a recommendation of your own? Submit a question for our guest booksellers and if it's answered, we'll send you a £15/€20 National Book Token to spend in your local bookshop.

Afrori Books interior

What makes Afrori Books a great place to visit?

"We are a small bookshop with a small team which means that any customers get a very personal experience. Our team are friendly and very passionate about books (as well as being avid readers) so we love to help people find something that's right for them or whoever they're buying for! Afrori Books aims to be safe space for marginalised communities and for people of colour in Brighton and beyond. We have plenty of sofas and places to sit and relax in our shop, and we encourage people to come and feel safe even if they don't want to buy a book. We also run plenty of exciting events and book clubs so there's always something going on!" Oliviyah

Do you have any recommendations for character-driven fiction, about people in university or in their early 20s? – Alissa

Honey and Spice by Bolu Babalola is the perfect book for you! It's a fun rom com set in a university about a young woman who runs the uni radio station. She has no interest in love and unexpectedly finds herself caught up in a fake relationship with the man she warned her girls about. It's a fun read and Bolu is a fantastic young author, we can't wait for her next book!

Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola

What books would you recommend for people who like reading about fictional celebrities (e.g. Daisy Jones & The Six)? – Pearl

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton. Dawnie Walton was a journalist for the Rolling Stone magazine and she uses her knowledge of the music industry to create fictional stars who she slots into music history seamlessly. Opal seemed so real at times I went to Google her! This is a dynamic story spanning several decades following the rise and fall of music sensations Opal and Nev. Dawnie writes the whole story in journalist interviews and it flows seamlessly to build a compelling story and fascinating characters It is thoroughly entertaining and very exciting. This was in our top ten books of 2021 and continues to thrill our customers who are looking for a great story written from an interesting angle.

Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

What advice or recommendation would you give to someone who wants to venture into reading poetry but also finds it daunting? – Cathy

Poetry can come across as very daunting thing to step into, but it really doesn't have to be. Reading poetry is about finding what moves you and discovering what it means to you, in the same way that we view art and listen to music. If you're new to poetry and you want to begin your journey here are two authors that we would recommend. Both are fantastic poets with beautiful and accessible collections that are easy to read and digest. Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire is a stunning debut collection that focuses on the trials that young women face. It is a beautiful insight into the lives of refugee women and truly an incredible read. Manorism by Yomi Sode is, again, a beautiful debut collection from a talented poet. Manorism focuses on the lives of black men in London and how masculinity and culture entwine.

Both of these books are great stepping stones into poetry. We hope you enjoy them!

Bless the Daughter by Warsan Shire

What would you recommend for someone who is venturing into contemporary romance for the first time? – Lauren

My favourite romance book this year is Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson. It's a beautiful story about a man and woman who fall in love over one summer told from the man's point of view. You never learn the characters' names, but you don't mind as you are taken on a journey of self-discovery. With the man, you get a stunning insight into the effects of trauma and how they change our ability to love another person. The book also deals with the topic of consent and respect in a way that I hadn't seen from a man before. There's also the added bonus of a Spotify playlist created by the author (under the same name of the book) to really immerse you in the story.

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

I love gardening, especially if I can eat what I grow. So I devour books on edibles but struggle to find fiction to relax with on wet and windy days. Can you help? – Jackie

One of our favourite fiction authors to read on a wet and windy day is anything by Dorothy Koomson. Dorothy is a Brighton-based author who writes cosy crime fiction and is known as "the queen of the twist"! Every book is fantastic and keeps you hooked until the very last page (she has 18 books under her belt so there's plenty to choose from). If you're new to her writing then we would recommend her book I Know What You've Done, which is a great mystery about nosy neighbours with a lot of drama and intrigue thrown in. Perfect for a rainy day in!

I know what you've done by Dorothy Koomson


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