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10 of the Best Books for All Global Citizens, According to Instagram’s Biggest Readers


Why Global Citizens Should Care 
Each of the books recommended below tell stories embedded with important life lessons for Global Citizens. Some of them even explore issues that are the core focus of the United Nations’ Global Goals, which Global Citizen advocates for in the mission to end extreme poverty. Join the movement by taking action here to help us eradicate poverty and its systemic causes by 2030. 

A lot has been said about the power of books; how words have the magical ability to transport any reader to any place and time, and how absorbing the knowledge they have to provide can truly free you. 

Books can capture memories, build worlds, provide an escape, highlight realities, and educate us all. Oprah called them her “pass to personal freedom,” while author Stephen King referred to them as “uniquely portable magic.” With that much power and influence, inside the pages of a book really is one of the best places to be.

Picking one up, flipping through its pages and indulging in its story not only has the potential to transport you to new places and throw you into fresh experiences, however, it can also open your eyes to lived experiences that are not your own. You can learn so much about crucial issues, global events, and the world in general by reading someone else’s words. 

Looking for a book to add to your collection? Bookstagram is one of the best places to turn if you’re searching for something different to read, or if you feel stuck in the same genre and are looking to dive into something outside of your comfort zone. 

No, bookstagram isn't another new app to catch up on, don’t worry! It’s a community of avid readers and book lovers who revel in all kinds of literature and share it with the world on Instagram, using #Bookstagram.

We reached out to bookstagrammers around the world to find out what books they think Global Citizens should be diving into next. Here are 10 of their recommendations, and what they had to say about why they're so worth a read. 

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Where The Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens

This beautifully-written novel about a mysterious 'Marsh Girl' living alone in the North Carolina marshes in the 1960s quickly became one of my all-time favorite books when I read it last year, and I've been recommending it to everyone ever since. 

Residents of a quiet town in North Carolina had often heard stories about Kya, the infamous 'Marsh Girl', who becomes the immediate murder suspect when a popular local resident Chase Andrews is found dead. I loved discovering more about Kya’s backstory as the narrative gradually revealed what experiences she had faced in her childhood and teenage years to result in her leading a life of solitude. 

With the author's zoological background, this novel is a glorious celebration of nature with Owens' wonderful descriptions of the marshes and the natural world from Kya's perspective. As the reader, I was left mesmerized by Kya and didn't expect to fall in love with her character as much as I did.

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Under The Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta 

This achingly tender portrayal of forbidden love lays waste to the notion that there are no queer stories coming out of Africa. Chinelo Okparanta delivers a stunning portrayal of love, friendship, family, and the trials and tribulations of womanhood ― all set against the backdrop of a Nigeria struggling to recover from a divisive civil war that had left scars on the nation. 

Under The Udala Trees is both a beautifully crafted coming of age story and a book about the healing power of love. It’s one of those books that will break your heart — then give you hope in humanity.

Love In Colour by Bolu Babalola

In these tales Bolu Babalola artfully and skilfully merges the modern with the ancestral, while creating perfect harmony. With writing that moves like the beat of your favorite song, Babalola decolonized tropes of love, desire, and passion. 

She takes classic romantic figures in mythology and remakes them in her image — focusing on stories often lost to the abyss of history. In these stories we get a glimpse into the one thing that connects us all as humans: love. 

The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga 

What Jennifer Nansubuga accomplishes in this book is extraordinary. It is at once a rooting of African womanhood in the ancestral, and a rallying call for all African women on what we can be. 

The pages of this book are bursting with well-constructed, layered, and strong female characters; who showcase how African women have navigated patriarchal spaces and utilized their agency to create lives for themselves. Richly steeped in the histories and realities of Ugandan women — this is a book that calls to the untapped power living in all women. 

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Daylight Come by Diana McCaulay  

As the author says, “Here’s to hoping this book remains forever in the category of speculative fiction”. 

Daylight Come is described as “climate fiction” and it is a not so gentle reminder of what can happen if we do not take action to help in climate change. Set in 2084, the sun is so hot that the people on the fictional Caribbean island of Bajacu must sleep during the day and work during the night. 

If you are caught outside at dawn you will die ― that is how hot the sun is. Food is scarce, water is scarce, children attend school online, the internet is limited, and no one lives to see the age of 60. No one travels, no one has access to the internet, the only thing of top priority is survival. 

Diana McCaulay is an environmental activist based in Jamaica and I loved that she used her gift of writing to tell a timely and relevant story about the impact of climate change.   

The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull  

Set on the US Virgin Islands, we meet the members of a community on a Charlotte Amalie-like Island. They are pretty laid back, but all live complicated lives. Things get even more complicated when one day the sky opens up and an alien ship docks close to the island. 

The 500 Ynaa came in "peace" and offered to solve the country’s goals by creating wealth, quality education, good health, clean water, clean energy, cure to illness, economic growth, and advance technology if they are able to stay on the island.  

Fast forward a year into the invasion, and tension between the Islanders and Ynaas is strong, things begin to spiral quickly. 

The lesson to explore here is the history of colonialism and what the invasion meant for an island that has a history of being taken over. We get a look at how the island was colonized, and the question posed to the reader is whether the Ynaa invaded the land or if they simply arrived? If you are looking for a book that will grab you from the very beginning and won’t let go until the end, this is it.  

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Waterbirds on the Lakeshore compiled by Zukiswa Wanner 

The first of its kind, an anthology of African young adult short stories, Waterbirds on the Lakeshore offers stories from all over Africa. You get to experience writers from Namibia, Kenya, Malawi to Cameroon, Benin and Togo. 

I don’t even think I can come up with adequate words of how this anthology made me feel. I’m just so happy that something like this exists. All 17 of these stories, albeit very different, were incredible in their own right. There’s a story for everyone, from domestic and historical fiction to speculative fiction ― some of these stories had me screaming.

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

When I think of the novel Pet, the first word that comes to mind is: necessary. Set in the perfect city of Lucille ― free from all the social ills in the world, Emezi introduces us to Jam, a transgender girl who is also non-vocal. As we all know, ignorance is bliss, but we tend to forget about the monsters that lurk in the shadows. The following question arises from this book: how do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

Akwaeke Emezi creates a world where Black, queer, disabled people are centred, supported, and loved; but they also remind us that to live in a world that’s accepting and safe for everyone who lives in it we need to constantly do the work and hold people accountable.

Mermaid Fillet by Mia Arderne 

Set in Cape Town, but not the side that you see in magazines, Mermaid Fillet masterfully touches on issues concerning women, violence, gender, racism, classism, and substance abuse. 

It does all this while alternating between the lives of different characters in different timelines. While the book does fit in the crime noir genre, there’s more to this story as Mia Arderne treats us to some magical realism too in some parts.

There were moments when I was in awe of the innovation — like there is a character list at the beginning which makes mention of the characters’ pronouns, sexuality, mental illnesses, and even their star signs. It is an offering that’s authentic in its telling of the South African colored experience devoid from lazy stereotypes.

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Luster by Raven Leilani

There are few books that have impacted my life as a Black struggling artist in a capitalist world that rears us for failure, because our ideas and talents aren't enough to compete in the world of art. A world where commercialization reigns and literature is mostly trumped. 

To find a Black protagonist who was written so well, and was so relatable that I could exchange our names and feel as if Leilani was writing just for me, is absolutely fantastic.

There's just something about how the protagonist, Edie, self-sabotages her dreams and the lives of others that resonated with me. I'll never forget the scene in the hospital where Edie comes to terms with herself as an artist; it mirrored my own struggle. 

Leilani wrote a book for me. For every Black, Broke, Artist crying out there to be heard.