5 Books Every New Student in Nottingham Should Check Out

Words: Matt Turpin
Saturday 17 September 2022
reading time: min, words

City of Literature's Matt Turpin gives new Notts students his five reading recommendations for this coming year...


If you’ve just landed in Nottingham, you might not be aware that it is one of 41 cities around the world recognised by UNESCO for being really rather excellent with words: we have a strong history of writers, a thriving contemporary scene, and a bright future as new writers break through to amaze. It’s often said that if you were to stand in the Market Square and throw a book, you'd probably hit a poet, or maybe a novelist. We have yet to put this theory into practice, but it’s most likely true: Notts is a place that takes words seriously, whether laid out on the page or spat out on the stage. 

Choosing five books to recommend to those looking to make this place their home for (at least) the next few years is no mean feat, therefore, but we crashed our collective heads together and have put together some essentials to ensure you get to see what a great place you’re living in…


Nottinghamshire Dialect

You’re going to need to get a handle on the lingo first, and there is no better place to start than Dr Natalie Braber’s Nottinghamshire Dialect - a pocket-sized gem for those seeking to know their croggeh from their twitchell, and understand why bus drivers will call you ‘duck’ despite clearly being unadorned with a bill and feathers.


Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning could be seen as a museum piece: a high-water mark in the wave of post-war Angry Young Men that crashed into the austere fifties and washed through to the individualistic hedonism of the sixties. But it’s much more than that, and timeless in its ability to capture a certain Nottingham spirit in its hard-drinking anti-hero, Arthur Seaton. “Whatever you say I am, that’s what I’m not,” he rages, giving voice to a city that defies easy definition.


I Believe in Miracles

Students arriving in the city this year will be the first to find Nottingham with a Premier League team since the last millennium. After years of underachievement, it finally seemed the magic of the late seventies - where Nottingham Forest stormed from mediocrity to European glory (twice) - was twinkling again. A great true story deserves a great storyteller, and few sports writers match the style and insight of Nottingham’s Daniel Taylor, who weaves social context into the story and paints it into life with insight and vim. *Other local football clubs are available*


Dawn of the Unread

The brainchild of swashbuckling Notts writer James Walker, this gathers some of the finest storytellers around and pairs them with excellent comic artists, telling fourteen unique stories featuring local heroes - literary and otherwise. You’ll know some - yes there is an outlaw called Hood, albeit female. There are ones you might not know about but really should: black rights activist George Powe, for example. And there are also reimaginings: Byron Clough, anyone? It won awards, and no wonder: it’s unique, educative, hilarious and irreverent.


A Random Book You Buy at Five Leaves Bookshop

Look, we have thousands of books worthy of filling this space, so we are going to cop out of a decision and instead recommend A Random Book You Buy At Five Leaves Bookshop. Our proudly independent, steadfastly radical bookshop in the middle of the city is a place that brings to life the dictum ‘You go to Amazon to buy the book you want. You go to a bookshop to buy the book you didn’t know you wanted’. You’ll find local lit, poetry, sections on LGBTQIA+, black rights, alternative lifestyles and much more.


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