We are being treated to an acting masterclass in this week’s Bookshelfie episode as Vick Hope is joined by actor, writer, director and producer, Ann Akinjirin.

Ann stopped by to talk about her latest role in The Famous Five by Enid Blyton, the importance of not erasing art’s history and the five books that have shaped both the woman and the actress she has become.


by Francine Pascal

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It was my introduction to being a bookworm. I didn’t realise it at the time, I didn’t realise not everyone reads books all the time. And Sweet Valley High was on TV, when I was in my first year of secondary school, I think that was when the show was really huge. It wasn’t enough for me to just watch it on screen I needed to read it and there were so many books. I needed to know what was happening, there was this attachment to the characters on the page. I think what I loved about those books was it was the beginning of me imagining what it would be like, not just seeing how they translate on screen, but I could imagine what the school looked like, or what they were wearing, or how their voices sounded.

All About Love

by Bell Hooks

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I knew of Bell Hooks but I hadn’t read any of her books before, this was the first one that I had read and it was only a few years ago. It was given to me and it felt like it fell from heaven like manna into my hands. I was post breakup, I was in the really raw point of breakup. I genuinely thought it was gonna be about love and love stories. And when it was given to me I was soccer punched, it kind of pulled me up a little bit because I was in the deep depths of pain and let me reassess what I thought, and really look at myself and be gentle with myself and understand and look back on things that I thought, and understand how that has influenced love for me. It just changed me fully and gave me strength.

A Little Life

by Hanya Yangihara

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I went on a solo trip around Indonesia and took this book with me. What’s interesting is I tried to read it again, a year or so ago, and I’m not sure I can go through it again. But I’ve read everything she’s written. I think she is an incredible writer, Hanya Yanagihara. And I think there was something about being pained and reading pain at the same time, that was really important for me.

Crying in H Mart

by Michelle Zauner

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I started to read memoirs about grief, and Crying in H Mart really made me stand still. What is so effective about the book is that the important part of her relationship with her mother is through her mother’s food, and that is a massive part of my relationship with my mother, who is an immigrant and migrant. There’s a Nigerian food element, and my mum and I, there is an ingredient element to our relationship that is so relatable to how she writes about the relationship with her mum.

Cleopatra and Frankenstein

by Coco Mellors

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I just think Coco Mellors is an exceptional writer. And she wrote these characters that are just so in your friendship group. Clio, especially, is either me when I was 20, or I’ve got a mate that was Clio. And I think the way that the relationship is written, because too often I think our understanding of love or our toxic attachment to love is because of what we’re shown on screen. This book is written in such a way, the love is so strong, but it’s wrong and it’s messy, and it’s fun and I don’t know if it’s because I read it as an older person, I also could look on it and and see how they didn’t work.