Category Archives: Books

What I’ve Loved Lately… September

There are times when you find a book or a podcast and they stick with you for a long time. I shared a few of these things I’ve liked recently in this post.

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Rabbit: A Memoir by Patricia Williams

I discovered Rabbit while browsing through my local library and had never heard of Patricia Williams before seeing her book. It’s a memoir where Patricia Williams, a comedian writes about what it’s like being poor, female and black in America. She talks about her childhood with her mother who was an alcoholic and didn’t work. Patricia had two children by the time she was 15. She ended up being a drug dealer to support herself.

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Her story covers how she was able to break the cycle of poverty in her life. I liked that it showed how the support she received from others helped her move up in life. She doesn’t aim to speak for all young black women but shares her experience growing up in a poor household.

It’s emotional but it’s definitely worth your time. I found it hard to drop when it was time for me to go to bed. That’s how much I enjoyed the story.

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The Starbury episode from NPR’s Planet Money podcast

It’s about a basketball player who decides to endorse sneakers that are much cheaper than the typical sneakers, athletes endorse. When Michael Jordan’s name is attached to a pair of sneakers, they sell for a much higher price. The episode explores whether customers respond the same way when they see sneakers that are much cheaper but claim to have the same quality as higher priced shoes.

I’m fascinated by how products vary in price when a brand’s name is attached to it so I was drawn to this episode.

An interview with the founders of Mented Cosmetics on Side Hustle Pro

Mented Cosmetics is a new company that currently offers nude lipsticks and nude nail colours. They aim to make it easier for women of colour to find their ideal nude lipstick or nail shades. They shared how they came up with the idea to start their company and their experience growing Mented Cosmetics.

I’ve been searching for a nude lipstick to match my skin tone so I was attracted to their brand. Most nude lip tutorials for women of colour tend to involve women applying multiple lip products and I don’t want to buy three lip products before I achieve the nude lip look I want. I’ve only worn nude lipstick once and that was for my traditional wedding. My makeup artist definitely used at least three lip products to achieve the look – a lip pencil, a lipstick and a lip gloss.

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But, I don’t have time to do that on a regular day. Mented Cosmetics fills a needed gap because you can wear the lipsticks on their own. Their lipsticks are also moisturising which is what I look for in a lipstick. I couldn’t find any UK retailers for their products so I won’t be buying any of their lipsticks yet.

Those are a few things I’ve enjoyed reading or listening to recently. Let me know if there are any books or podcasts you currently like.

 

 

 

Favourite Quotes About Books and Reading from The Bookshop Book

The Bookshop Book was written by Jen Campbell. I discovered Jen on Youtube where she creates videos about books, writing and representation in the media. When I realised she was also an author, I checked out her books.

It was a book on my Christmas wishlist in 2016 so I was glad I was able to read it last month.

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In The Bookshop Book, Jen interviews bookshop owners and authors. They talk about their love for books, reading and the bookshop owners talk about how they started running their bookshops.

These are the quotes from sections of the book that I liked.

“My children are so used to being able to buy things on computers, but there is nothing like going into a bookshop and picking up a book and being able to examine the style of it before jumping in and deciding to have it.” -Rachel Joyce, author

“Never lend books, for no-one ever returns them. The only books I have in my library are books that other people have lent me.” -Anatole France (Harris & Harris Bookshop have this written across one wall in their shop)

“It was probably my mother who made me fall in love with stories.”- Ali Smith, author.

Ali Smith’s mention of how her mother made her fall in love with stories resonated with me because my mum got me a lot of books when I was growing up. I feel that’s part of the reason why I enjoy stories.

Ali Smith’s mention of how her mother made her fall in love with stories resonated with me because my mum got me a lot of books when I was growing up. I feel that’s part of the reason why I enjoy stories.

“But are books going to die out? Many people have prophesied that, but I say that can’t happen. Books are important, so very important. They teach you things; they show you different views of the world.” – Brian Aldiss, author.

“I think bookshops and libraries are vital. It seems so sad that so many libraries have been closed down and so many bookshops have disappeared. If children can’t see books on shelves and learn to enjoy browsing before they select a book then they’ll never become keen readers.” – Jacqueline Wilson, bestselling children’s writer.

I read a lot of Jacqueline Wilson books as a child so I was happy to hear Jacqueline Wilson’s thoughts on why bookshops and libraries are important.

“A good bookshop shows you the books that you never knew you wanted.” – Mark Forsyth, author of the Sunday Times #1 Bestseller The Etymologicon

If you’ve been wondering why books or bookshops are important in our communities, I hope these quotes have shown why we’ll continue to need books, libraries and bookshops.

6 Ways To Discover New Books

There are a million and one books and it can be difficult choosing what to read. I once came home when I was a teenager and my mum told me that she had just finished a novel called Trust Me by Lesley Pearse. She said it was a moving story and recommended that I read it. The story is about two children from England who were sent to an Australian orphanage in the 1950s. I read it and went on to read more Lesley Pearse novels.

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My mum’s read many Lesley Pearse novels too that I can’t get her any of her novels as a surprise present for her because she may have read it. I think she chooses books based on if she has enjoyed their previous work. 

So, people choose books based on if they’ve enjoyed the author’s previous books. How do I pick books to read? Well, based on my mum’s recommendations although I recommend more books to her now. These are a few ways that I discover new books. 

  1. Blog and YouTube reviews: I have subscribed to a few YouTube channels like Penguin Platform and Reads and Daydreams. Penguin Platform is a channel from Penguin Randomhouse so they only talk about books they’ve published. They run a giveaway every month but I’ve never won so I stopped entering their giveaway. Maybe, I’ll enter their next giveaway and see if I’ll be successful. I recently read Elif Shafak’s Three Daughters of Eve after watching one of their videos. Three Daughters of Eve_mini
  2. Friends: I speak to my friends about books they’ve enjoyed. My friend, Eniola told me how good I Do Not Come To You By Chance by Tricia Adaobi Nwaubani was. I found it at my local library so I borrowed it. The novel didn’t disappoint. If it had, I would have stopped taking Eniola’s recommendations.
  3. Events: I lived in London for a year and would go to author events. The book stands would be irresistible so I would end up going home with a book or two. Since moving to Nottingham last August, I’ve been to only two events. One, where I got Gary Younge’s book Another Day In The Death of America and another on Feminist Publishing. Both events were organised by Five Leaves Bookshop. If you live in Nottingham, you can check them out. I went home with a long reading list of feminist books after going to their event in April and I’ve been reading a few feminist nonfiction books since then. I Call Myself A FeministJPG_mini
  4. Podcasts: Authors are often interviewed on some podcasts that I listen such as Ctrl Alt Delete hosted by Emma Gannon and BBC’s Woman’s Hour. They discuss their books and if I find them interesting, I add them to my growing reading list. I read a book by Sophie Kinsella (Finding Audrey) for the first time this year after listening to Sophie Kinsella on Emma Gannon’s podcast. 
  5. Films: Reading Hidden Figures about female African-American scientists was a decision I made after watching the trailer of the film adaptation. I probably may not have read the book, had I not seen Taraji P Henson in the trailer. Taraji P Henson
  6. Bookshops/Libraries: Any day I have spare time and I’m out in the city centre, I usually stop at the library or any bookshops to see what books they have. I may just browse through the books at a bookshop and not buy anything. However, it requires a lot of self-discipline when I go to a bookshop. 

These are the main places I find books to read. When I see a lot of people talking about a book on social media, I usually check the books too.

I found a book yesterday while reading a podcast review on iTunes. The book is called The Upstarts:  How Uber, AirBnBand the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley are Changing the World by Brad Stone. I googled it and read an excerpt. Then, I found that the author, Brad Stone was on the Penguin podcast discussing the book. I ended up ordering the book from my library while listening to him on the podcast episode.

If you’re looking for a book to read over the summer or at any time, you can use these options or read reviews on my blog or check out my YouTube channel.

Book Review: Love Me Unconditionally by Ola Awonubi

Love Me Unconditionally is a romance novel set in Lagos and London. It’s about a lady in her thirties known as Deola, who has been a long-term relationship. Her boyfriend promises her marriage if she can get pregnant for him. However, she doesn’t get pregnant so that puts strains on their relationship. The relationship ends on a sad note and Deola has to move on from it.

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She decides she needs a change of scenery so she moves to Lagos. As Deola is in her thirties, she faces pressure from her mother to get married and her family tries to set up with potential suitors. The novel follows her time in Lagos and whether she’s able to find love again.

There’s a full review of the novel on my YouTube channel.

*Love Me Unconditionally was kindly sent to me by the author, Ola Awonubi. However, all views are mine. You can find the book on Okada Books and on Amazon.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterley: A Tale of Race, Discrimination and Achievement in the Modern World

Hidden Figures was a book I discovered after its story had been made into a film. It tells the true-life story of African-American women who worked in aeronautics and their role in helping America win the space race.

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Hidden Figures talks about these female mathematicians who worked in a white, male-dominated sector. They faced challenges such as having a segregated bathroom and not being allowed to participate on certain tasks because they were women.

They were pioneers in their field, occupying positions that black women had not previously worked in. In the past, black women with mathematics degrees mainly worked as teachers in underfunded segregated schools. When roles opened for black women at NASA,  it gave black female graduates the chance to work in a different sector and earn more money.

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These female mathematicians faced challenges such as having a segregated bathroom and not being allowed to participate on certain tasks because they were women. However, with persistence and delivery of excellent work, they were able to progress. There was a particular woman, Katherine Johnson who had asked to participate in editorial meetings. She was told she couldn’t because she was a woman. By persistently questioning this, she was finally allowed to attend. This was in 1958. There’s been a progress in that, sexual discrimination in the workplace is becoming more unacceptable.

The story also explores the social situation in America during the time, Katherine Johnson and her peers were working at NASA. Margot Lee describes this well in this section of the book.

So much money spent so that between 1969 and 1972 a dozen white men could take the express train to a lifeless world? Why, Negro men could barely go to the next state without worrying about predatory police, restaurants that refused to serve them, and service stations that wouldn’t let them buy gas or use the bathroom.

While some were glad that America had made into space, there were difficult conversations being had on how there were no black astronauts at the time. People also challenged the fact that a lot of money was being spent on the space programme while people were poor and dispossessed in the United States. Was this the right way to spend government funds? Although, I felt the good side about the government spending money on the space programme was that it created jobs that helped some black families move up the income ladder.

I enjoyed reading Hidden Figures but I must say some sections were quite technical. There were areas where Margot Lee wrote about the work being carried out in NASA and it was a bit hard for me to follow. Besides that, it was quite readable.

Technology is mainly seen as an industry dominated by men. Reading Hidden Figures helped me realise that women, including black women, made contributions to technology in the middle of the twentieth century and this should be recorded in history.

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I would recommend this if you’re looking for something inspiring to read and if you’re interested in the experiences of African-Americans. These female mathematicians worked in challenging circumstances and made a difference in their families and in the workplace.

*I got my copy of Hidden Figures at WhSmith at St Pancras Station. You can get the book on Amazon, Book Depository, Waterstones and WhSmith. 

Literature At School and Its Influence on my Reading

Reading through my last post where Damilola spoke about books and reading, I realised that she liked some of the literature texts we read at secondary school. Damilola mentioned that she liked Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Both are books we read at school. I remember struggling to get through these books for my IGCSE literature exam.

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I preferred the poetry section in literature at school. One of the poems I studied that stuck with me was The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost

I don’t know if it was the thought that I had to read a book to pass an exam that made me not like literature. I wonder at other times if it was the selection of books that didn’t appeal to me. Primary school and junior secondary school literature was fine. I enjoyed reading Without A Silver Spoon by Eddie Iroh which was about a young boy from a poor background in Nigeria. Oliver Twist was also good.

I think a few of the books I read at school between ages of 8 and 13 had a common theme on how a family’s income can influence a child’s life chances, from Oliver Twist to Without A Silver Spoon.  I read Mother’s Choice by Agbo Areo when I was 11. This had a similar theme. It was about a young boy from a rich background in Nigeria and his parents send him to boarding school in England at a young age. He becomes wayward when he starts school in England.

The books at senior secondary school were the ones I struggled to read. It was at this stage that my class read Things Fall Apart and Romeo and Juliet. I feel because I was in a large literature class, it was hard for me to learn during classes. We usually had about 30 people in an average class. However, for literature, we were over 40 students in a class that was meant for 30 people.

If I were to suggest an improvement to my secondary school literature class, it would be that the teacher breaks the class into small groups. People can then discuss each book as though they were in a book club. That would have aided my understanding on each book. We could have had these book discussions in small groups during the many prep times we had. I went to boarding school and we had a lot of prep (periods in the afternoon and evenings meant for personal study).

I got through school and did well in literature but I think I should have taken more time to read the books. When it came to choosing subjects for my A Levels, I thought of doing Literature but I ended up choosing Sociology in place of English Lit. I also did French and Economics.

Although, I didn’t carry on studying literature at A Levels, I still enjoyed reading. I volunteered last year as a tutor in a secondary school in London and I assisted with their English lessons. The Year 7s read The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas and I read that with them. It’s about a boy who lives near a concentration camp in the Holocaust but he didn’t know what was going on in the camp. It was an interesting read and I also watched part of the movie adaptation.

Given that I didn’t really understand some of the literature texts I read at school, I’ve decided to re-read Things Fall Apart and I picked up a copy from my local library.  I think I might prefer reading it as an adult. Damilola recommended it and I’ll let you know my thoughts when I’ve read it.

Let me know if you studied literature at school and what books you enjoyed.

Book Review: Radio Sunrise by Anietie Isong

Radio Sunrise is about a radio journalist, Ifiok who loses funding for his radio drama on a public station in Nigeria. The government stops the funding the programme so he starts to look for alternative funding. The fact that the government cut the funding for the programme made me question whether we can rely on the government. One minute, they are helping the people and the next minute, the help stops. He is then called to work on a documentary about ex-militants in his hometown and the story follows his experience while he’s there.

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Ifiok is a journalist so he chats often with people and discovers new stories along the way. The novel ignited my interest in journalism and how it can expose things going on in society.

Ifiok’s interest as a journalist meant that sometimes he was more interested in recording a story than helping at an incident.  A fire started in Ifiok’s neighbourhood once and  he quickly brought out his tape recorder to record the event, rather than helping his neighbours who were trying to get water to quench the fire. You may wonder why people had to stop the fire themselves. It’s because the firemen arrived without any water and only came to record the incident.

One of the conversations that stuck with me from the book was Ifiok’s conversation with a woman who’s a street food seller. She mentioned how KFC’s arrival in Lagos had affected her business negatively. I remembered how I only thought about buying crispy fried chicken and chips in Lagos when KFC arrived. I didn’t think about the livelihoods it affected.

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In all, I enjoyed reading Radio Sunrise. Anietie writes in a way that talks about society in a funny way but questions important parts of society. I laughed a couple of times while reading Radio Sunrise. But, it also made me think a lot about the government, journalism and what it’s like being a young man in Nigeria facing societal pressure.

If you’re looking for a book that is easy to read, definitely pick up Radio Sunrise. It’s quite quick to get through too; it’s less than 200 pages long. This is Anietie’s first novel and I’m looking forward to reading more of his work.

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*I received Radio Sunrise as a gift from Jacaranda Books but all views are mine.