Books That Stood Out For Me In 2016.

Hello to my 12 or so followers and every other person that will read this post. I should have publish this earlier this year, but my day job happend to it. So about this time last year I started this docu-blog to write about the books I am reading every month. 

Well my followers know how that turned out, how my steam went from hot to warm, and warm to cold. I am so sorry for that. My day job never gave me much chance to sneek in on here. 

But all in all, 2016 was an amazing year for me as regards reading, I read more books in a year than I have ever done. I joined two book clubs, The Port Harcourt Book Club and the online twitter The Read Club. These book clubs, they were among the best things that happened to my reading life.

I made new bookworm friends, both online and in physical. I learned new perspectives, learned others point of views, and their approach towards books especially fiction, and did I mention that I am bias towards African Literature, Nigerian Literature in Particular.I had an amazing, amazing experience.

So last year I read over 60 books, both hard copies and ebooks. The amazing thing is that I was able to break beyond just Fiction a bit. And truth be told it felt good. I read the good, the bad and the ugly. I mean some writers sure know how to ruin one’s reading bud for weeks in some cases. Don’t mind me, I hope those writer get better at their craft. It is not easy, I know.

So out of all the books I read These ones stood out.

1. Season of Crimson Blossom – Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

This is was my best book of last year. In fact I could not write a review on it until weeks after I had finished reading it. I kept churning  the theme flushes, the writing style, the context, the plot and how really importantly urgent what the book discuses is. Wonderful wonderful book. Find my little say about it here.

2. Blackass – Igoni A. Barett

This is another wonderful book that gripped me in 2016. How one creates a story and infuse it with a spalsh of colour (Both aesthetically and in real form). This book takes a trivial and turns it into an open endeded discourse that pokes discourses which transcends the words, plot and the story itself. The humour, the highs and lows, the mature handling of characters all improved for Igoni in this one.
3. Under the Udala Tree – Chinelo Okparanta

This book captures a topic that challenges the ‘norm’ ( whatever that is and whoever defined it), and rolls it into a historical period in Nigeria.
Fantastic story of a leasbian who grew up to know herslef, and also to know that her type were not acceptable as normal. She danced from the solitary pleasures of her sexuality to the rejection by her guardians, mother and even her first gay partner. 

This book is about denial and acceptance. Very graphic,lyrical and poetic. Chinelo style is not new, but she adds a touch of touché to hers that make her writing stand out. She pens like a bard. And l love the way she recalls stories withing stories without getting the reader lost and bored up. This one is a reader people. Definately one of 2016’s best.

4. Born on A Tuesday – Elnathan John

Have you ever wondered what life is like for an Almajiri. Google that word, if it is new to you, because that is one of the strongest point about this book, that I give the author a big thumbs up for. Superb story, written with no particular audience in mind. No spoon feeding with italics of local words and footnote. I mean who rebels the publishing world like that. Elnathan of course. Baba!
It tells the story of Dantala an almajiri that discovers the way the world works from his own side of the planet. Despair, hope, loss, love, discovery, and a sense of strive and survival are all over the pages of this one. 

The platform for the presentation of this is religion and politics, cooked in a territorial context that exposes the unique life of the Northern Nigeria. It is an exposé kind of. I love this book. Find my review here.

5. Nairobi Heat – Ngugi Wa’ Koma

I don’t know how I have escpaed reading this book up until now. I personally, am tired of diaspora writings of Africa, not that they are bad, but writer shot us many of it that I got filled at some point. But this one gave me a different thought.
An American-Afican finds his work as a detective take him back home. He feels foreign in his own skin and root. And he finds a whole story that is bigger that the death of a blond girl ropped around a certain black man. 

Beyond the race discourse and the integrity of the black race in US police force, the author takes us through a flash of the Rwanda genocide and opens up the evil that men do and perpetrate during war. The trick about this one is the twist on a supposed hero.

Please people, reaf this book. I dont want to be a spolier. It is a good one.and one of my non Nigerian read of last year. 

6. Easy Motion Tourist – Leye Adenle

‘Fast and Furious’ are the words that open one of the good reads review of this book, and true that is what this book is all about. A lunch into the crime scenes of the city that never sleeps in Africa, Lagos. 

So when we see bodies mutilated, dropped off in the streets and we think  of ritualist as the only ones that do such, this book gives a new perspective about it. Organ harvesting and exportation has become more organized than we know. This book is an exposé. 

The media, the police force, journalists and the internationa mediall take a chunk of this fast paced triller. Find it people. Leye nailed Lagos to the pages of this book.

7. Sarah House – Ifeanyi Ajaegbo

Thank heavens for book clubs, that is how I came across this book, it was one of the books of the months at the @ThePHCBookClub last year.

Just like Leye’s EMT, this is debut and a crime fiction. But this one tugged at my chest particulaerly because it is set in Port Harcourt. I grew up and still live in this city. 

The story of Nita is not new among that of girls rescued from prostituion, but Ifeanyi adds guts and vividness to this. Beyond prostitution is child trafficking and organ harvesting ring that exists right at the heart if the city. 

The images in this book come alive in your mind many days after reading it. It detailed, but I must say that the end is quite someway. I want to believe there is a sequel coming up. Fantastic book by the way.

8. Walking Shadows – Jude Dibia

The word ‘Gay’ gets eyes squinting, ears twitching and heads turning when spoken in certain spaces especially in Nigeria. It however has become more heard of than it used to be. This novel is a bebut, and the first of its kind in narratives, to openly engage a discourse about Gay people in the Nigerian Literary scene, some credit goes to baba Wole Soyinka for this, but this book takes it all up and throws it open.

And that was at a time when it was uncommon in the world of Nigerian Narratives. It is about the discovery, denial and the seeking of a acceptance in a society that sees less of queer people. 

If you are interested in the story of the becoming of a gay man who, as friend says, tries to con the system about his sexuality and got shot at the foot, read this one. It is a expository though the writer went for a comfortable end. It is still a good one.

So there my 2016 was outstanding with those. Thanks.

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It Is Not Writer’s Block or Something Like That

My deep and sincere apologies for abandoning this little writing project of mine. Trust me, it is not writer’s block or anything close to it that is responsible for it. It is just the the demands of my 8 t0 5 job seven days a week. Okay, don’t let me come here and cry out my woes, a man has got to pay bills abi. All the same I am sorry for keeping my few followers waiting for fresh shares of my reading experience.

So, since I last punched in letters and words onto this blog I have read the following books and I have been dying to write a proper review or say personal reader’s experience about them. Here they are –

  1. Love Is Power Or Something Like That – A. Igoni Barrett
  2. Smithereens Of Death – Olubunmi Familoni
  3. The Fishermen – Chigozie Obioma
  4. Walking Shadows – Jude Dibia
  5. Season of Crimson Blossom – Abubakar Adam Ibrahim
  6. Blackass – A. Igoni Barrett

These books gave me new experiences and perspective into Nigerian Literature. From a debut like Smithereens of Death by Olubunmi Familoni to double doses from A. Igoni Barrett whose books show how a writer evolves in style and trend to Abubakar’s Season of Crimson Blossom where love is explored between two unlikely people and in an unlikely place, with dire issues of culture and social perspective tied around the plot and theme. No doubt these books gave me a roller coaster ride and my reviews of them are coming up shortly, one for each day of this week. Watch out.

April Bloom, Book Cases and Music

Okay, cheers of the new month. Since the last update for March, between you and I, I have not finished reading James Marlon’s ‘The Brief History of Seven Killings’. It has not been easy, keeping my day job which I have had no break from everyday since March. I am now on Page 150. Please clap for me jare. Sure, I am still reading it.

I found and joined The Port Harcourt Book Club. It has been very exciting. The book club had been existing under my nose for a while and I never knew. As usual, I stumbled upon its existence on twitter. They read a book every month and meet for the book discussion and some kind of review every last Sunday of that month by 4pm at a venue of choice in Port Harcourt. For the month of April, they, or should I say we are reading ‘Love is Power or Something Like That‘ by A. Igoni Barrett, the book is available at Bookville Bookshop, Mummy B road, Port Harcourt. It is an open book club, so if you are in Port Harcourt or passing by you can join. Find them on twitter, @ThePHCBookClub

Between March and now, I have knocked down two books, and both are short stories collections. The one for The Port Harcourt Book Club, ‘Love is Power or Something Like That’ by A. Igoni Barrett, a Port Harcourt boy himself and ‘Smithereens of Death’ by Olubunmi Familoni an Ibadan base writer. I am unto the third book, ‘We Need New Names‘ by NoViolet Bulawayo, the 2014 Etisalat Prize for fiction winner. It is a good progress on my reading habit if you ask me. And of course, their reviews are coming right up, maybe this month too.

Next on the blog should be my short review of Elnathan John’s ‘Born On A Tuesday‘. I have managed to finish the last two chapters which the pity that flushed me up for Ahmed did not allow me to read. Watch this space.

THE OTHER THINGS…

Nigeria in suffering from fuel scarcity. I know it is no news. But guys, it is not easy, the money I have spent on fueling my car since this brouhaha started is already double my monthly usual and mounting. It is not funny anymore.  I just hope that this week shall be the end of it, if not maybe what happened in 199somthing will happen again.

Among other things, I love music and of all kinds, so far it sounds good to me and fits my mood per time. There is this beautiful Nigeria  female sensation Aramide. She sings Afro Soul, and I came across her last year. She has a new music video out for her single Love Me, in which she featured Adekunle Gold, another Afro Soul sensation I will say.

Aramide-Adekunle-Gold-New-Video-Bella-Naija-7-600x400

A shot from the video – Aramide & Adekule Gold                     Courtesy : BellaNija

I love the feel of the song, its mixture of Yourba and English Lyrics, the flush of the African feel in the instrumentals and the lush video shoot and quality. It has been on replay on my music player for a while. Enjoy the new video here.

Catch you later guys.

 

 

Books For March and The Others That Amuse Me – Oluwaseyi G. Abidoye

First I apologize for the lateness on publishing the reviews of the books I read in February. My day job became a big baby that needed more tending than what the sunlight does for the earth. I was crushed in between writing, reading and working, since the later pays the bills for now, it took the larger part of me.

I am still reading Marlon James’s The Brief History of Seven Killings, contrary to the title, the book is not brief, it is bulky, and I am yet to pass the 100th page. I find myself grappling with the language and that, is slowing down my reading process, also, the book requires a very retentive memory from the reader and that demands paying keen attention, so I put a page divider somewhere in the book. So ‘ama’ continue reading Marlon’s TBHOSK for the month of march.

About Okey Ndibe’s Foreign Gods, Inc. I really enjoyed the book, find my short review here.

Elnathan John’s Born on a Tuesday is an eye opener to me, as it should be for many. It recounts the story of Northern Nigeria in a manner which no one has attempted before. I can say the book is a handbook for understanding the typical life of an almajiri, their vulnerability, hopes and how they are neglected to sheer destiny, unguarded and weary. My review of it will come up in a few days from now.

THE OTHER THINGS

Rivers State of Nigeria is bubbling with political killings and threats of more killings among election campaign and other political activities. Indeed power has changed hands and like karma, what went around is about to come around. I am not reporting news, this is just a mental note to self, to be careful this weekend and mind my own steps, words and actions. The rerun election is coming up the 19th of March, 2016. I hope it will not be re-killings, re-ringings and re-contesting the results of the election.

I MADE A FRIEND

For the kind of job i do, making friends solely for business reasons is the only thing that comes to mind when the phrase ‘making friends’ is mentioned. Outside work, the friends I keep are my childhood friends, asides them, I have virtual friends too, on social media.  I guess everyone knows how that kind of friendship works, stalking, likes, tweets and re-tweets and the likes. nothing really personal. But this week, I made a formal attempt to turn one of my virtual friends into a buddy friends. Let us see how that works out.

MICROPOETRY

So, while surfing the web as usual, I stumbled on the term ‘micro-poetry’. It is a kind of poetry that favors short words and concise thoughts, I do not know how formal or acceptable this kind of poetry is yet, I am still reading up about it. But I can say that this poetry favors the lazy writer, who have problems with words and too many verbose expression. Micropoetry is spontaneous in formation and dissemination and it is being made popular by tweets and twitter’s 140 character attribute. So, I decided to try men hands at it, I formed two and here they are:

TINGLING EARS

My ears want to hear good news,

Only that the windy evil men do

Clouds the sound wave,

Still, I hear whispers of love and conquest.

BURNER

No, don’t touch me,

I am not fire, so you feel you can toy with me,

I am the ice that burns from the crown to the sole,

Tips and curves all round

I hope I tired, who will score me now. Chao!

Happy Me, Happy Reading – Oluwaseyi G. Abidoye

After what looks like a speed reading, I finished reading Foreign Gods Inc. in less than a week, sometimes I read during work hours and lunch break and in between mountains of work load. It is surprising what a five minutes reading break can do to a tired brain. After all, if I sum the hours I spent reading this book it is not up to 24 hours, that means i read up the book in less than a day. Phew! That is quite possible because the book is an interesting page turner.

And while I was settling down my brain systems, waiting for the delivery of my copy of Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings, the delivery guy called me to inform me that he will also be delivering a copy of Elnathan John’s Born On A Tuesday the next day. Happy me, jumping me. I took delivery of these books the next day and set out to read James Marlon as I proposed, but now, I am almost done with Elnathan John.

 

So it seems ama be reading three books this month, Foreign Gods Inc., A Brief History of Seven Killings and Born On A Tuesday. An improvement I think. And if anybody asks me, I am enjoying this experience. Watch out for short reviews of theses books in the coming week.

Books for February – Oluwaseyi G. Abidoye

I am happy I was able to meet up with my reading target for the month of January. I guess just knowing a few people are following this blog and patiently waiting for my writings is enough urge to finish reading the books (Things Fall Apart and Memoirs of a Geisha) I set out to read. Check my feedback and reviews on them here and here in the order listed above.

For the month of February, I will be reading Okey Nide’s Foreign Gods Inc. and James Marlon’s A Brief History of Seven Killings. I caught particular interest in these books while following the Ake Book and Arts Festival last year. I am going to be reading them both in paper form.

Image of A Brief History of Seven Killings courtesy of rnib.org.uk and image of Foreign Gods Inc. courtesy of amazon.com