The Human Library: Essex Book Festival 2024

Saturday 8 Jun 2024 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Two human books relaxing at the Human Library

The Human Library

unJudge someone

Welcome to the Human Library.

Just like in a real library, a visitor to the Human Library can borrow a book from a range of titles. The difference is that books are people, and reading is a conversation.

Books in our Human Library come from all walks of life, and each has a different story to tell. Come along, connect with people you wouldn’t normally meet, and celebrate positive differences in our community.

Venue: The Samaritans, Walsingham Road Community Hall, Colchester, CO2 7BN
Date and time: Saturday 8 June 2024, 11am – 3pm
Tickets: Free event, no booking required

This is event is organised by Essex Cultural Diversity Project in partnership with The Human Library Organisation, and is hosted by Colchester Samaritans as part of Essex Book Festival. It is part of the Stand Up For Diversity series of events, initiated by Essex Cultural Diversity Project and Essex Book Festival, which brings people together to celebrate diversity in the arts and in our communities.

This event is also part of Essex Book Festival’s Listen Up, a day of talks and events to share stories of lived experience, exploring diversity, mental health and wellbeing.

Read the full programme for Essex Book Festival at

Listen Up! Essex Book Festival
Saturday 8 June

Essex Book Festival is partnering with Colchester Samaritans, Essex Cultural Diversity Project and the Human Library Organisation for this very special day of events. Part of Colchester Samaritans 60th anniversary celebrations.

  • 11am-3pm: The Human Library
  • 4-5pm: Olumide Popoola, Like Water Like Sea
  • 5.30-6.30pm: Hafsa Zayyan, Will You Read This, Please?

More about the talks:

4.00pm Olumide Popoola, Like Water Like Sea

Join writer, speaker and performer, Olumide Popoola as she discusses her novel Like Water Like Sea. Sometimes we swim, sometimes we float, other times we are drowning. It’s not always easy to know which is which. It is the ten-year anniversary of her sister’s death, and Nia is grappling with her grief, and balancing the complicated relationships weaving through her life. There is smart and sexy Temi; Melvin, her teenage love; and her new yet intimate friendship with Rahul and Crystal. But looming large over everything is her mother SuSu, whose battle with bipolar disorder continues to cast a profound shadow over Nia. Delving deep into the intricate tapestry of Nia’s life, Like Water Like Sea is a poignant tale of self-discovery and resilience, sexuality and motherhood, and falling apart to become truly whole. Book here


5.30pm Hafsa Zayyan, Will You Read This, Please?

A frank and impactful collection of twelve stories as told to our best British writers, Will You Read This, Please? is based on the lived experience of people who have faced mental illness. It shines a light on the stigma and isolation of living with mental illness while also showing the strength and resilience of the human spirit. Join contributing author, Hafsa Zayyan (We Are All Birds of Uganda) for an open and honest conversation about mental health and the power of giving a platform to unheard voices. Book here


Essex Book Festival logo    our logo          Human Library logo     ACE logo arts council