Joy Crookes: ‘Storytelling is a rebellious act’

This week on the Women’s Prize podcast, host Vick Hope chats all things books (and poems) with superstar singer-songwriter Joy Crookes, whose debut album Skin was released in 2020 to rapturous acclaim. Raised in a Bangladeshi-Irish household – with a dad who would make her recite Yeats and Heaney – a life of storytelling has clearly worked its way under Joy’s skin, channelled into her exquisite lyrics and melodies. Here Joy talks to Vick about the pleasure of finding those unexpected books that put into words our complex, chaotic experiences – and why a good book can feel like a proper slap to the face. 

Read on to discover Joy’s five Bookshelfie picks and click here to listen to the conversation in full.

All About Love

The word ‘love’ is most often defined as a noun, yet…we would all love better if we used it as…

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“This book proves how political love can be, in the best way … Studying love can be an incredible thing. And it’s something we never get to study. We just experience it, or we think we do.”


salt. is a journey through warmth and sharpness. this collection of poetry explores the realities of multiple identities, language, diasporic…

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“I think I was seven pages in and I started crying … It’s simple, it’s evocative, it’s so real.  I love the fact that it’s all about her work and not about her, she’s not a brand.”

Girl, Woman, Other

This is Britain as you’ve never seen it. This is Britain as it has never been told. From Newcastle to…

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“People project onto me, people stereotype me all the time … but for me to learn my own biases through such an incredible book, I just thought it was genius, so smart.”

To Kill a Mockingbird

‘Shoot all the Bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a Mockingbird.’…

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“This was the first book I ever read that really addressed race, particularly race in America and civil rights. I had a lot of questions that I didn’t understand why I was asking myself. I used to say stuff like, Why does it feel like our people are angry? Why is there tension?”

I Am Malala

From the Winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley, one girl…

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“Malala’s story is impeccable and surreal … I read this book in my late teens and it made me feel really empowered and strong.”

Want the full conversation? Listen to it here >

Subscribe to the Women’s Prize podcast for more unmissable book recommendations from some of our favourite female musicians and creatives, including Emeli Sandé, Katherine Ryan and Nia DaCosta. 

The Women's Prize Podcast

Tune into host Vick Hope and a line-up of incredible guests on our weekly podcast full of unmissable book recommendations.