Five important books on my desk right now
As a Reader, I am often in the middle of a deluge of books and struggling to decide which ones to read first. Also with the number of published books worldwide per day, one needs to prioritize and pick out what speaks at any moment in time to your reading spirit. I am quite fortunate to have a set skill that enables me read at least two books at a time and as Readers like me understand it, sometimes you can read one in the morning and one late at night. Sometimes one book is rested for another which has a certain quality that speaks to your mood at the time. For example, you might need a hilarious book if you are down on your luck or a little bit unhappy or you might need a focused book if you have some serious projects at hand. Overall, a book is one that lifts your spirit, takes you on incredible journeys and gives you unflappable knowledge, I am at that place and time of the year when I have twenty books in one week seeking attention and some weeks it can be more. In coming up for air, I have chosen five important books that I am focused on for the rest of November 2018 and in the first week in December 2018. I hope they speak to you.
1) From Frying Pan to Fire; How African Migrants risk everything in their futile search for a better life in Europe, by Segun Adeniyi. This week my brother and friend, Segun Adeniyi, Chairman, Editorial board of This Day Newspapers and celebrated Columnist and Author presented his much anticipated book on illegal migration to the public. It was a really beautiful ceremony with HRH the Emir of Kano as Chairman of the occasion and Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, as special Guest of Honor. I have always been amazed by the sheer number of Africans escaping their countries and the psychology behind it. But in this book which is very well researched, Segun takes us on an incredible ride not only through the physical journey of the migrants but also into their minds to enable us see what drives them. His brother, Agboola, who was himself an illegal migrant at some point in his life gives an insight in the book about life on the route to Europe and the challenges therein. While describing the many incidences of pain and suffering in boats and in the desert through his research and travels for the book, Segun reminds leaders that leaders need to do more to keep their citizens at home by providing necessities like jobs, infrastructure, peace, and social amenities. He does not fail to call on the International community to provide better structures, better processes and a better life for migrants. At the public presentation of the book, the Emir of Kano asks why capital flight can leave African countries, slaves once left the beautiful continent for the benefit of Western countries and now having impoverished Africa, persons should not be allowed to migrate. He asked if those who occupied America were not immigrants who chased out native Indians and if colonization and apartheid were not part of migration. But again he challenged leaders to do the needful to make their citizens want to stay home. Performance Poet, Dike Chukwumerije delivered a stellar review of this amazing book. I highly recommend it.
2) Betty Irabor, Dust to Dew. This is a memoir by one of Nigeria’s lifestyle magazine publishing giants and a leading light in magazine publishing. The Publisher of Genevieve in her second book Dust to Dew takes us through her childhood in the police barracks and tells us in language so pure and engaging, how her Father left her and her brother standing in the barracks and drove off while she was eight and her brother was seven. How the women in the barracks had put them in a bus, contributing money for their fare to go and look for their mother who had been separated from her Dad. And how her father had driven out of her life that afternoon never to come back. This is the story of loss and pain and recovery to become a hugely successful person. It is also a celebration of courage, strength and support as her mother a single mother raises them through hard work and her husband, Soni Irabor, Veteran Broadcaster is her rock of support. This is also the story of Betty’s struggle with her mental health, suffering bouts of depression that lasted Seven years. I read the book overnight. Easy to read and full of wise thoughts and stories of her growing up years, her illness and the love and support of her family, with Soni as supporter in chief, I could not help but admire a woman who has the courage to tell her story for the benefit of humanity and a healing balm. A must read for everyone.
3) 1000 books you must read before you die. I always return to this book at the end of the year and audit the books therein and then try to get a few that I have not encountered. It is a tome of a book and can be read slowly and consulted constantly. It provides a capsule review of each of the books written by reputable readers, authors, literary experts, academics and historians. Truly a collector’s item.
4) In the same league with books you must read before you die is the resource book for all writers which I consult throughout the year. The Writers and Artists yearbook 2018. I buy a copy every year as although most of the content remains the same but there are many updates and it also provides tips on how to write different genres, how to get published and how to write a proposal letter in addition to how to get an agent for that novel you have been writing for a long time. These write ups which are always illuminating are written by experts in the various fields of fiction, non-fiction, children’s books and illustrators as well as agents and various experts in their fields. Always such a fresh book to read.
5) Commonwealth Prize winner, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani has released a newly minted book for young adults. It is such a beautiful book inside out and follows the story of a young girl in the North East of Nigeria who was kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram. This is based on several interviews by Tricia with women who were kidnapped. The sheer innocence of the language takes us with her on her challenges, her love of school and the tragic situation in her region. In language so true and a snapshot style the book is definitely an important addition to the Nigerian and International literary landscape. Get a copy for your teenage children but more importantly, it can be enjoyed by adults so read it. I enjoyed a copy Tricia gifted me with. And see if you can decode the artwork on the cover. A truly amazing book and a tribute to the bravery of the children in the North East of Nigeria. Please note that it is not a pity party book but a book about life in the North East by ordinary people living their daily lives and their stories of terror, fear, pride, culture, school, food and family through the eyes of a young protagonist. Grab a copy as soon as you can.