You know the way Tupac wondered whether heaven has a ghetto? Well, I wonder if heaven has a library. Because I fear I’ll die having not read a book on my To Be Read (TBR) list.
But I’m positive that heaven has a library. I’m certain in fact. Besides, God loves books, because—the Bible.
So I’m sure heaven has a library. A massive and magnificent one with golden gates. And in heaven, the librarians won’t be strict. Yes, they’ll expect us to observe silence in the library, but they won’t penalise us for returning books long overdue. Because what’s an overdue book when you’re sure you’ll live for an eternity, eh?
Anyway, last year I read 25 books. For a guy who fears he’ll die having not read a book on his TBR list I know it’s a somewhat low number. But I like to dissect books. I love to read, reread and jot down entire passages. It’s like eating. The joy in eating is not only being sated at the end of the meal but also savouring the meal.
So without further ado, here are the books I savoured last year:
BORN A CRIME- Trevor Noah
A while back I watched Trevor Noah being interviewed on BBC’s Hardtalk. During the interview, he was challenged concerning an offensive joke he had made during one of his shows. And in his defence, the comedian said that the best jokes are based on truth. I couldn’t agree more. In Born a Crime, Trevor Noah gives a candid account of his life. And that’s what makes the book so entertaining. It’s a hilarious yet occasionally melancholic read that you’ll certainly enjoy because of Noah’s brutally honest storytelling.
THE WAR OF ART- Steven Pressfield
Have you ever read a book and felt like you weren’t reading it but rather it was speaking to you? That’s how I felt while reading The War of Art. The book spoke to me. It challenged me to rekindle the flame that I had put out. To awaken the beast who was asleep. If you’re a creative in a rut, this book is for you.
ORIGIN- Dan Brown
I’m a huge Dan Brown fan. Yes, his books are controversial but I love them because they’re not only entertaining but also very edifying and informative. Origin, his fourth book in the Robert Langdon series is no different.It’s an enthralling story that seeks to answer fundamental questions about the origin and destiny of the human race.
THE CATCHER IN THE RYE- J.D. Salinger
Have you ever read a book and wondered where it was hiding your entire life? How was it kept away from you for so long? For me, that book has to be The Catcher in the Rye. It was written way back in 1956, but it’s a timeless story that will resonate with readers today. Told in the first person, the story is about Holden Caulfield—a free-spirited sixteen-year-old who has just been expelled from school for poor academic performance. I loved this book because J.D. Salinger doesn’t mince his words. Unlike some author’s who usually try to be too polite and end up coming across as phoney, J.D. Salinger doesn’t. In it, Holden Caulfield freely expresses his thoughts. I won’t spoil it for you but the excerpt below is a good example
Boy, when you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.
The Catcher in the Rye is a brazenly written book and you’ll definitely love it if you love no holds barred writing.
THE ROOSTER BAR- John Grisham
Another writer I’m a huge fan of is John Grisham. Grisham excels at telling stories about lawyers in distress. In The Rooster Bar, he tells the story of Mark, Zola and Todd, three students in their final year of law school at a sub-standard institution and deep in student debt. After one of their friends, also deep in debt, dies while unravelling information implicating a prominent lawyer and investor to their debt situation, the three friends decide to ditch law school and continue with his investigation.
THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F*CK- Mark Manson
Did your proposal get rejected? Did someone serve you poorly today? Did your status update on Facebook or pictures on Instagram get few or no likes? Did a car drive past you and splash muddy water on you? If you answered yes to any of these questions and what happened bothered you and maybe even drove you up the wall, then this book is for you. This book has many life lessons but the central idea is perhaps we care about too much when we should care about less and choosing what to care about is what’s important.
THE STAND- Stephen King
I’ve read novellas and short stories by Stephen King but I’ve never finished reading any novels by him. I attempted to read It before the movie was released last year but I stopped midway. Yet I go around saying I’m a huge Stephen King fan. Yes, I know I’m a poser. Haha. So when a pal of mine suggested that I should read The Stand praising it as King’s finest work, I decided to take up the challenge. I read fairly fast but The Stand took me quite a long time to read—one month to be precise. A month that was totally worthwhile. In the days of “rocketman” and “I have a bigger nuclear button than yours”, The Stand is as relevant today as it was back when the unabridged version (read this version) was released back in 1990. If you love long and intricate tales this one is for you.
HOMEGOING- Yaa Gyasi
In 2014, after a friend of mine criticized me for reading too many Western writers and not enough African writers, I started reading more works by African writers. Because post-high school, the last book I had read by an African writer was The River Between—a setbook. Shame on me. Because gang, there’s a lot of great content being released every year by African writers. So, if you haven’t plunged into reading books by African writers, Homegoing would be a good place to start. It’s a gripping tale about the transatlantic slave trade. Beginning in the 18th century, the story follows the lives of two half-sisters, Effia and Esi. Each successive chapter follows the bloodlines of the two sisters from the 18th century to the 21st. It’s a vast story that paints a grim picture of the slave trade and it may move you to tears.
Anyway, those are the books I enjoyed reading the most in 2017. That aside, I’d love to hear what you have been reading and any books you’ve read that you would highly recommend.