How do you justify your book purchases with limited book budget? Especially, when you want to break your promise to yourself? My excuse is that I am using the new books to ginger up the drastic drop of interest in reading. And who can argue against this reason? Once I have filled up my unread shelf again, I will be forced to deplete it. Though I know it really does not work. Cognitive dissonance?
The following are the books I have in the past weeks and months:
- My Watch by Olusegun Obasanjo. This is a three-volume work by the former Nigerian president. I usually do not like biographies and autobiographies. They are a nice of rehashing people's deeds. It's as if the person is telling you how to remember him, which is like hacking into the minds of the people and rearranging the thoughts they have of you. It is unfair. However, it is also a way of learning from people. Others have retold completely doubtful biographies. Others have been called out on certain aspects of their lives. So it is not as if people believe entirely what is written in such books. But for people who have led nations and had carried out certain actions and taken certain critical decisions, it is important that we got to know the whys and hows those decisions were taken. For instance, Bush explained in his Decision Points memoir wrote that "Those who based decisions on principle, not some snapshot of public opinion, were often vindicated over time". Whether he is rearranging himself in our minds or not, he has written what he felt. My interest to read Olusengun's books is because Nigeria has a lot to tell. Sometimes you wonder why certain things are done and how certain individuals think. Who wouldn't want to read something from Abacha if he had had the opportunity to write something? But then my interest in Obasanjo's memoir is also because Wole Soyinka had written about him in You Must Set Forth at Dawn and I wanted to find out his side of the argument, even if slightly.
- My Vision by Muammar Gaddafi with Edmond Jouve. One of the greatest harm that was done to a country was the killing of Muammar Al Gaddafi. The motive for his killing is now apparent (thanks to leaks) and there is no need to discuss that now. However, in pretentiously 'saving' a nation and turning it over to democracy, Libya - overnight - moved from being a country with budget surpluses to a failed state, compared with the likes of Somalia. Suddenly, the freedom fighters and the lovers of 'democracy' have stopped shouting and the media has stopped its coverage. The leader of this atrocity, who boldly stated that - we came, we saw, he died (in reference to the killing of the leader of Libya) - is seeking the highest office and that is what has filled social media today. Five years ago, it was what western media and their phone-wielding reporters called Arab Spring. One cannot tell what positive sprang from the Spring. It is therefore interesting that one reads what the man says about himself. Not what has been said about him, which is always negative.
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I have heard a lot about this book. Sometimes I don't believe in flowery accolades. I like to let the dust settle and read the latter reviews to assess if the rave is still on. Perhaps it is one of the reasons I never jumped onto Taiye Selasi's Ghana Must Go. However, once in a while you must allow yourself to be taken by the tides. One can call this exploratory. After all, if we do not explore, how will we discover? And one cannot explore what one knows already. You must allow yourself to be led into the dark recesses of life. And with books, you must allow yourself to be led by the people once in a while. By the way, why should the first few books by diasporean authors be on identity?
- The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon. I am in search of books by these authors: Albert Camus, Jean Paul Sartre and Frantz Fanon. I will read anything I find on them. Their writings are not just aimed at telling a story. They are philosophical and one does not come out of them unaffected. I wish we could write more of such books.
- Black Ass by A. Igoni Barrett. What about the ass? Which of them? OK. I have heard people mentioning the title but have not heard them discuss the content. However, the blurb sounds very interesting: Furo Wariboko – born and bred in Lagos – wakes up on the morning of his job interview to discover he has turned into a white man. As he hits the city streets running, still reeling from his new-found condition, Furo finds the dead ends of his life open out before him. As a white man in Nigeria, the world is seemingly his oyster – except for one thing: despite his radical transformation, Furo's ass remains robustly black.
- Zarah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu. I have followed Nnedi on Twitter for a long time. I have talked about her books on my blog but I have not had the chance of reading her, until now. When I saw this copy, I did not allow the chance to pass. Her works have been described as science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction etc.