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DiverseCity: Living Library

Date: 18 Sep 2019
Time: Choose a time between 10am and 1pm
Venue: Belfast City Hall

The Living Library allows you to borrow a human book for a 20 minute conversation. All the human books come from a wide range of backgrounds. It is a fun event which allows you to have a one-to-one conversation with someone you might never have had the opportunity to speak to.

How do I get involved?

  1. Check below for a full list and description of all the books available
  2. Select the human book or books you are interested in borrowing (you can borrow more than one book)
  3. Contact our Good Relations unit who will offer you a 20 minute timeslot for you to borrow the book.
Call 028 9027 0663 or email 

Sign up to our Good Relations emails to keep up to date with news, events and important information about Good Relations.

For a full list of Diversecity events see

Choose from the 14 books below.

Description of books

The Orange Order - Local Lodges, Global Liberties, Worldwide Celebrations

Since the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, the Orange tradition in Ireland annually remembers King William III’s victory in music song as well as colourful banners during the month of July at traditional ‘Twelfth’ of July celebrations. However, the Orange Order does much more than parade on the ‘Twelfth’; it’s a proud Protestant fraternity, which raises thousands of pounds annually for local charities and has members throughout the world. Orange Lodges are in places like Scotland, England, the United States of America, West Africa, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Choose this book to find out more.

From pyramids to a parading Belfast, a Muslim woman’s journey to the unknown and still keeping the faith

My journey from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and finally to Belfast. The story and life experience of a Muslim woman, living in Belfast for over 10 years, raising teenagers in a completely different environment, adapting to a new culture and keeping the faith.

The odd one out

What it was like to be the first elected representative from a minority ethnic background in Northern Ireland. Anna Lo was elected in 2007 as a MLA for South Belfast and retired from politics in 2016. She tells in her 'book' her experience of being the first ever minority ethnic MLA in the NI Assembly.

No More Smoked Salmon

I was once seated for dinner amongst the great. Smoked Salmon on a bed of Horseradish and Caper sauce was on the menu but when the waitress got to my place, I simply excused himself and asked for a plate of chips and a sausage, a request to which the waitress, along with a nod and wink, duly obliged. One of the guests asked me if I had ever considered writing a book. I pondered this idea, before responding ‘yes’. When the guest enquired as to the title, I replied ‘No More Smoked Salmon’.

I served my time as a pig butcher on the Shankill Road in Belfast. I was married to Sharon and had one little girl ‘Zoe’. Sharon was working with her father in the family fish shop when the IRA came into the shop, planted a bomb and killed them both along with 8 others, including one of the bombers.

‘No More Smoked Salmon’ is my story of growing up in a very sectarian Belfast, of losing Sharon and hounding Gerry Adams for answers. It also tells of my very personal journey as a peace builder, the ordinary people I met along the way. These are not the sort of people used to fine dining, the majority of them were never recognised with peace prizes or Queens honours.

Still in limbo land, the long journey from Mogadishu to Belfast and the detentions along the way.

This is the story of how I have spent the past 14 years seeking sanctuary, escaping from the militia in Somalia, crossing borders, coming to Belfast, being detained and past from pillar to post. It is also a story that tells about the kindness of strangers and the hurdles of navigating a heartless system as my search for home continues.

From an Edinburgh Cloister to Belfast

A nun’s journey from an enclosed convent to life in Belfast working with kids aged 16 years in the care system and in an inner city parish. ‘In the 80s I would have thought that anyone choosing to move to and live in Belfast was mad! Little did I know that it would be me...’

This will only end in two ways.... Death or Prison.

These are the words which I said to myself when I became a Loyalist Paramilitary. Luckily I'm here to tell you the story of my life before, during and after the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Swimming Against the Tide

Linda Ervine has the unlikely responsibility of being the first Irish Language Officer based in a loyalist area. She was introduced to the language through a cross community taster session in East Belfast Mission, a Methodist Church on the Newtownards Road. When she began learning Irish in 2011, no one would have conceived of the idea of an Irish language centre in the heart of east Belfast. Today Linda oversees 14 Irish language classes, dance, music and Welsh classes, which bring together people from all parts of Belfast. She has attracted criticism from people within her own community because of her support for an Irish Language Act.

Adventures of a Global Citizen

What made the 18 year old girl leave home and what answers has she found through her journey? She is now sharing her experience as an Eastern European migrant, living and working in Northern Ireland for more than 10 years." Borrow this book to get a flavour of what life has been so far to a global resident in transit, caught between two worlds....

The day I lost my mammy

The 9th August 1971 changed my life forever; my beautiful mammy never came home.   I discovered that the British parachute regiment brutally murdered her and left her in a field to die.  I was sent immediately to a refugee camp in Cork where I heard on the radio that her funeral took place, I didn’t get to say goodbye to her. I have spent the last 48 years campaigning for truth and justice not just for her but for all the victims of the Ballymurphy Massacre. My life was never the same again.

‘If you die I’ll bury you, if you go to prison I won’t visit you’

These are the words spoken by the distraught father of a former INLA Prisoner, highlighting his opposition to his son’s involvement in the conflict. This former republican prisoner has now been working for over 15 years, building relationships with former loyalist and republican prisoners. He has also been working with victims & survivor groups for 10 years. Read more about his journey from prison to peace.

My 2 year journey from Somalia to the UK

I thought that being granted asylum status in the UK would signal a new life and new beginning, but little did I know that as my two year journey from Somalia to the UK ended another journey began with more trials and tribulations, fears and uncertainties. Hear more about my journey, leaving Somalia at the age of 15 and the sacrifices my family made to buy my safety.

Call me Mrs Nobody

I came to Belfast as an asylum seeker. Although I had heard about it before, I had never imagined I would set foot here. I had a life in South Africa, an identity, I was respected member of society, until my life got turned upside down and I had to run, fearing for the safety of myself and my daughter. When I got to Belfast, I was to learn that I was a nobody, a number or just an asylum seeker. I was shocked when people on buses would move seats when I sat next to them.

From conflict to conversation

From conflict to conversation is the story of an English born young man who joins the British army and is subsequently sent to Northern Ireland. Initially the fear generated by this experience created a hatred of the place. However, after meeting people of the north outside of being a soldier this hatred became a love resulting in a decision to leave the army and settle in Belfast. The story from there begins as one of addiction, homelessness, attempted suicide and diagnosis of PTSD, but ultimately this changes to drug and mental health rehabilitation, university graduation and reconciliation work through conversations with those I would have harmed or been harmed by all those years ago.


Two ladies chatting across a table

Suitable for everyone