Candice Carty-Williams: Books that changed my life

Anna Walker 18 November 2021

The award-winning author of Queenie, shares her most treasured books 

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

I was the sort of child who would run to get the new book in this series every time it was released.

There was no social media then, so you just had to go to W H Smiths and ask, “Hi, when is the next one coming?”. I remember just laughing breathlessly at them—I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much at anything!

Those books were really important to me, and now that I’m an adult and I know about different editions, I have three different sets of the series in my house. You can tell when someone has read Louise Rennison—there’s a specific brand of humour that comes from her books. 

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

Citizen is a collection of essays, poetry and lamentations on race in the US, which extends out to the UK. I borrowed it from a colleague, locked myself away over lunchtime and just devoured it.

It’s really important to me because it was the first thing that I read that made me understand what microaggression was, and then everything kind of made sense, the ways that people had made me feel in my own skin.

It was the first time that I had felt seen. After that life was a lot smoother, because I knew there was a name for what I was experiencing, and when you name things, that’s when you can understand them. It was an eye-opening collection, that made me understand what I’d  been navigating.

Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn  

This novel is set in Montego Bay and it’s about a single mother dealing with the eldest child syndrome, where nothing you do is right.

She’s also in a relationship with a woman, which in Jamaica is a big no. So  it’s talking about all of these quite hard cultural conversations, that I think are really important—it’s talking about sexuality, it’s talking about positioning, and the family. 

I think Nicole Dennis-Benn has found the pressure points that nobody talks about, and is exploring those through the most gorgeous fulsome writing. It’s my favourite book of all time. 

Candice Carty-Williams' new novel, Empress & Aniya is available in paperback and on Audible (published by Knights Of)

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About the author: Anna Walker is senior editor of Reader's Digest and tweets at @annalouwalker