Book Lust

All posts where I describe my loving lust for books that I’m reading or yet to read.

Amethyst’s 2017 Holiday Reads.

It truly is a season to be jolly and  grateful.

The holidays here in Nigeria are usually exciting. It’s exciting because we have the Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year celebrations. I don’t have to spend this Christmas on campus finishing a semester. One of my rewards for the end of productive, well attended semester was getting books. For other reasons like my insatiable love of reading I have holiday reads!!

These are What I Am Reading this holiday.

A. Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okpranta.

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“Watching her walk away that night, I felt more happiness than I had felt in a long time. If I could have sped up the hands of time, I would have done so, so that next week would be tomorrow”.

“With a man, life is difficult. Without a man, life is even more difficult. Take it from me”.

Those quoted parts of the book stood out to me. The first quote perfectly illustrates Ijeoma’s love for Ndidi while the latter depicts Mama’s view about the necessity of Ijeoma getting married. I must say I haven’t read a book with this many chapters, seventy-seven of them! The initial chapters of the book focused on Ijeoma, the main character’s childhood on the Biafran side during the Nigerian Civil War. I liked this because I was yet to read a none political narrative about this side of the historic war.

She loses her father during a raid on their home in Ojoto, Aba. Mama and her leave the village and she goes to become a housegirl at her late father’s friend house. There she meets Amina, falls in love and is caught as a lesbian. Mama who had settled somewhere else came to take her away.

Through out the book we see Ijeoma struggle with her sexuality, Christianity and responsibilities as a female. She later falls in love with Ndidi, finds a lesbian community and self loathes herself.  After an inhumane burning of some homosexuals. She reluctantly dates her childhood friend then marries him. Ijeoma is hunted about her abominable sexuality and struggles to be a good wife to Chibundu. Inability to get preganant or have a male child put a strain on their marriage that breaks the couple apart.

“My point is that business is the reason for things like doctrines. Business is the reason for words like ‘abomination’. The church is the oldest and most susuccessful business known to man”.

These were Chibundu’s comforting words to Ijeoma who was worried her child would have disabilities as a result of her past ‘sins’.  The narrative echoes many unanswered questions of mine about the Bible’s point of view on homosexuality. Showing how inhumane, disapproving and scary these views truly are. I found the many chapters were Mama drummed in these views into Ijeoma discomforting. Sadly I knew it’s something many Nigerians would do. It’s an apt depiction of the issues Nigerian homosexuals face. It’s also a stunning coming of age novel. I was delighted when Ijeoma finally realised it was her life to live. I loved this book set in one of my state of origins, Abia State. It’s already part of my library.

B. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

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This novel is dramatic! It perfectly depicted the antagonistic drama one finds in a polygamous home. A reader can, only chant ‘poor Bolanle’ while reading this revealing story. Lola Shoneyin’s classic is truly filled with secrets and well titled. This novel was a colorful companion during hours of road travel across Cross River during my vacation tour of the state last week.

What I found profound about this book is that each woman had her sad tale of irrelevance, humiliation, struggle that seemed to end with their marriage to Baba Segi. A triumph Bolanle’s presumed barreness threatened to destroy. I admired various qualities of all the characters. Bolanle, the university graduate who marries Ishola Alao aka, Baba Segi to escape an emptiness of self caused by rape is the heroine. She faces opposition, hostility, mistreatment, verbal abuse and even assault from other wives. These wives are Iya Segi, the first wife and frog, Iya Tope, the aponda and second wife and Iya Femi, the selfish beauty and third wife. There were the children and other minor characters.

Major themes of this book are infertility, infidelity, secrecy, antagonism. I found a few interesting ironies. Such as, ‘Baba Segi’s big testicles were empty and without seed’. Also he regularly ‘pounded his wives’ with his surprisingly large penis but all his wives felt sex with their lovers were better. Teacher, Baba Segi’s trusted confidant and advisor in the end ill advised him so he could patronize his establishment. All the wives disliked that Bolanle had something they had desired for a long time, which was education.

This novel paints how people’s antagonism can spring up not only from malice but from insecurities, or hidden agendas. A lesson I learnt earlier in life. I loved the book and the fact that Bolanle found herelf.

C. The Small Print by Abimbola Dare

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Honestly I haven’t finished reading this ebook. I had waited for Roving Heights to have it back in stock. Then I saw a post on the author’s instagram page. that showed I could get her books on Okadabooks. I bought the ebook quarter the price of its paperback. Grinning with excitement I started reading the inspirational romance with a mustard top wrapped around my dripping freshly washed hair.

I must say the way the novel started quiupped my curiosity beyond measure. I felt Wale’s anxiety, worry and determination. As the story progressed I met other characters like obsessive Andrea Jennifer Lennox, beautiful Sade, irritating Bode William, determined Eniola and other characters who help shape the progressing narrative.

The novel has themes of tempted faith, infertility, infidelity, quest for independence, deceit. I’ll admit many things some characters did upset me but I love how the narrative inserts relatable words of God. It’s been a while I have read an ininspirational romance. The plot twists and conflicts are just brilliant!

D.The Miseducation of Obi Ifeanyi by Chinedu Achebe

I saw this ebook advertised on Okadabooks’ instagram page with an intriguing description. Talk about a written reality show of a Nigerian family. I had to add it to my reading list.

E. Men of Valor by Kiru Taye

Men of Valor is made up of Book 1,2 and 3 by best-selling romance author Kiru Taye. I have looked for how to purchase this collection in Naira. I finally have! Men of Valor is an historic African romance series. If you loved A Woman In Her Prime, Joys of Motherhood, Things Fall Apart, you’ll love this genre also. I have read praising reviews of Kiru Taye’s writing. She writes heart warming romance and steamy erotic scenes. I read her scintillating Thighs Fall Apart erotic fan fiction of Things Fall Apart. I got it on Okadabooks for N899.

Dramatic Family Classics, Historical African Romance, Coming of Age Gay Romance, Inspirational Romance. I think I’m set to end 2017 reading enclosed in the finest of Nigerian literature.

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Book ‘n’ Gauge 03.12.17

Book ‘n’ Gauge served a sensational mix of all genres of literature, music, art and talk at Herbert Macaulay Library, Yaba Lagos.

The monthly literary event is presented by Roving Heights Online Bookstore (visit their website) and supported by Gtbank You Read Initiative. You know I don’t recommend if it isn’t stellar. Read my review of Roving Heights Online Bookstore here..RH Bookstore review Sunday afternoons in my house are spent eating rice, taking a nap or lounging in white lingerie with a novel. However, on 3rd January I wore my expectations, orange lipsick and a simple nose ring to read outdoors. I unavoidably arrived an hour late. The conservations had already begun. Ayobami Adebayo and Lola Shoneyin talked about the crushing burden placed on women to procreate, cultural narratives about childlessness, unpopularised infertility of men. The vivacious Comperè in her flowing fuchsia pink dress and her locs bangs announced a spoken word performance.

The slender poet sat and read from her phone a tale of scouting the Cuban art market to find her first painting to purchase. She had wanted a representation of a sensual black woman but had gotten an artwork of Osun that her imagination had to repaint. Before the reading commenced I purchased the Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives from a lady holding copies and a POS machine for N2,500. I got a paper bag and bookmark. This made the Ijebu-Igbo woman in me giddy. The previous day I had popped by Glendora Bookshop to check their new books. Resisting the temptation I didn’t purchase their N3,950 copy. Ayomide was my only friend that came along. He purchased both books.

After the performance, Lola Shoneyin, author of The Ssecret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, read about a mischievous sabotage of the family aso ebi by Iya Femi. The author’s animated reading drew out laughter from all of us. There was a soulful musical performance by Nana Aisha. Her moving voice sang a story of a pregnant woman’s feelings. Ayobami Adebayo read from Stay With Me. The scene where the new wife moved into Yejide’s house exclaiming it was her husband’s house too!

There were two more captivating spoken word performances by the aforementioned poet and instafamous poet Eva Johnson. The former poet waxed on about Dirt, a free verse about life, the earth, nature, women’s efforts, nurturing and time. Eva Johnson performed a compelling introduction and tale of An Average Girl. This performance reminded us to be concerned about others, listen to the sexually abused, bring perpetrators off unreachable pedestals. It made everyone feel the shock, fear, pain and numbness of the average girl who was continuously raped by her father and Uncle Moses.

Questions were asked by the audience that had had phones, camera up in the air streaming live and capturing the magical moments. Both authors advised aspiring writers to read, get comfortable with rejection, get a patient but efficient agent, write out their voice and style and avoid influences from published works while writing. Small chops and glasses of Chapman passed from trays to distracted but grateful hands. While a little #boyboss offered a glass bowl of chocolates to everyone but me.

There were exciting auctions. First, a book auction. It was an intriguing experience as the book whose bid started at N2,500 was sold at N20,000. Interestingly persons who bid only had to pay their bid prices. The book was bought from the oldest bookstore in the world at Portugal. It tells a story of a fictional town where no one is able to die after the New Year. During the event an artist had been drawing an artwork inspired by the event. It had been the first action I noticed when my flustered self had walked in late. I missed this auction because I stepped out to talk with Tobi Eyinade, Roving Heights face, it was great to see this face. She presented the book and artwork to the highest bidders.

Book signings and photographs followed the auctions. I had engaging, fun, thought provoking and encouraging conversations with the literary heavyweights. Being as I wasn’t with my already signed Stay With Me. I introduced myself to Ayobami Adebayo and we discussed the importance of being independent, getting comfortable with loneliness and enjoying solitude. We agreed these three underrated ideals help you and your relationships become healthier. I expressed my love for the novel and she expressed her love of my book photograph of Stay With Me. See the picture and my review of the novel here..  What I Am Reading: STAY WITH ME.

“Are you Feyi?” she asked. I stopped my story surprised and affirmed. She excitedly began telling me how she previously signed my copy months ago.  I simply got the Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives signed with love by the founder of Ake Arts and Literature Festival, Lola Shoenyin. I took pictures with her and Tobi Eyinade. Thanks to Ayomide for taking the pictures as my battery was low. I discussed with other interesting people upon conclusion of the event. Amongst which was Faith Moyosore, Creative Director of African Writers. Ayomide and I got ice cream from the ColdStone Creamery at St. Agnes junction up the road from the library. We excitedly showed each other our signed books. Then discussed the event, our evening plans, not too flavorful pink iced cream. Book ‘n’ Gauge was his first attended literary event and it mesmerized him.

I have said my thanks to everyone who helped make it a delightful experience. I loved reading outdoors with Book ‘n’ Gauge. I’d recommend you attend the next event. Want to see more pictures? I’ll share the photo album on my Instagram below.

Glossary

Osun– A Yoruba female goddess who wears a yellow flowing gown.

Aso Ebi– native attire worn by members of a family and their guests for a wedding, burial, party and other ceremonies in Nigeria.

Image source: mrayooluwaseun

Amethyst’s Book Lust

                  I.

I’ll be dropping the names of books that make the bookie in me salivate with lust.

Amethyst’s Book Lust, is a book list I have compiled from various months Purchase Lists, Literature Prize Lists, online literary magazine reviews and my journal entries. It’s my personal list of African contemporary reads anyone should lust after. These books are from various genres, forms and plot timelines which weave rich stories from the lives of colorful Africans on and off the continent. With their intriguing titles and in no particular order:

1. The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotosho. This novel captures South African’s changing racial relations since 1950s through two feuding elderly female neighbors. It’s available on Goodreads and Roving Heights Books.

2. Your Father Walks Like A Crab by Tolu Akinyemi is a poetry collection for people who do not like poetry. It’s available on Okadabooks, Roving Heights Books and Amazon.

3. Like A Mule Bringing Icrecream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika. A wondrous tale of the effects of aging on eccentric yet sophisticated Dr Morayo Da Silva. It’s available on Cassava Republic, Roving Heights Books and Goodreads.

4. On Black Sister’s Street by Chika Unigwe. “is a probing and unsettling exploration of the many factors that lead African women into prostitution in Europe, and it pulls no punches about the sordid nature of the job.”- Bernadine Evaristo, Independent.Co.Uk. It’s available on Amazon, Roving Heights Books and Goodreads.

5. We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo. The highly acclaimed coming of age novel of Zimbabwean lead character, Darling who leaves for America. It’s available on Goodreads and Amazon.

6. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. “An unflinching portrayal of the slave trade explores it’s impact down generations, from 18th century West Africa to modern day US.”-Diana Evans, The Guardian. It’s available on Konga, Amazon, eBay, theguardianbookshop and Roving Heights Books.

7. Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole. This is a critically acclaimed collection of essays on art, literature, photography and politics. It’s available on http://www.faber.co.uk and Amazon.

8. Chronic School Hater by Ngozi Ilondu is a humorous but practical book on redefining learning in Nigeria sold exclusively on Okadabooks.

9. Aro’mo Leegun (Harbinger of Bone Pains) by Muideen Owolabi Bakare is an educative memoir of a warrior’s guide to living with sickle cell disease.

10. The Girl Who Can and Other Stories is a collection of short stories by irrepressible Ghanian author Ama Ata Aidoo. I love short stories and collections give me plenty of them. Roving Heights and buyreadlove.com have the book on sale.

Thank me and the authors after your climaxes.