Most people know Keside’s rich writing on Instagram. I know that he is an ardent reader and lover of words, so I had to hear his answers to all of my bookish questions. He speaks so well about why it’s okay not to like every book and how reading can become a way of finding yourself. Enjoy!
1. What are you currently reading? Do you read more than one book at a time?
Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime , which I’ve just gotten my hands on. There is also a sort of disservice, something unjust that I ascribe to reading more than one book at a time. In some way it is cheating, like having two partners. I just cannot.
2. Have you always been a reader? What is the first book you remember ever reading? What drew you into reading/why do you read?
I believe I have always been a reader. Writing and reading walk arms hooked. I remember reading a lot of literature, but none that hit quite like Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood . It is still a feeling I recall, even though over 14 years has been packed up. I liked reading because it was a different feeling, and as most people who grew up in my times, we had access to mostly western literature- thrillers, romance, drama, and these people’s lives were so enchanting, a different scope to beauty, a different atmosphere, and if you were like me whose childhood was not characterised with anything more than the ordinary, that whole excitement surpassed more than anything that you could ever see happening in your own real life, thus, sustaining. So reading was partly an escape, and then it became a returning, how I found myself in people, how they made me return to myself, too.
So reading was partly an escape, and then it became a returning, how I found myself in people, how they made… Click To Tweet
3. What is your philosophy on reading? (for example, some people have to finish every book they start)
I think that life is too short to force yourself into any piece of writing. And sometimes the critics are not right when they say “Must read book of the year”, you know? With me if I cannot get myself emotionally invested, I put it away. Books are written for people, and the people always find them. It is okay if you are not one of those people, the world is big. Another thing I do is take a couple of days after finishing a book to sort of let the characters and their lives simmer, if simmer is the right word, but to stay with them a bit, before I begin another book. Because a book ends on you, and you have to end the book yourself; you have to say goodbye, at a time not challenged by the author.
Books are written for people, and the people always find them. It is okay if you are not one of those people... Click To Tweet
4. How often do you read? And how do you fit it into your day?
I read quite often, at least to a degree at which I’m comfortable with. On very busy days, I read OP-ED pieces or roughly 3,000 worded essays of non-fiction. (My mailbox answers to a couple of friends whom, among ourselves, we share links of pieces to be read.) By that I mean I always find a way to reach out of myself and inhabit in a realm of other-selves which would either leave me joyed or thinned out from empathy. On the days I read, I try to fit in as many pages I can before I sleep. However, I don’t read mechanically, so if after 3pages I find that the words are blurring, or that I am returning to read the last lines, I put it down.
5. Where do you like to read? Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever read a book?
Mostly in my room, or at home. I find it odd that people can read at cafes, or with music (my sister does this and my face meets hers with utter confusion). Maybe because I am a slow reader, or that my ability for concentration simply requires a theatrical composition, but I rarely read in public spaces. Maybe the library, but the seats are uncomfortable!
6. What makes a good book, in your opinion?
The lovely thing about being a reader is how your views on this evolve. There was a time I’d have said the plot, but now I am easily arrested by language. I don’t think there is any story that can shock me, or that hasn’t been written at all. Its the transitioning that matters. A good book should move you, not in anyway dramatic but you must feel a push, either a deposition or a withdrawal, and this happens only when its been written in honesty and with mighty empathy.A good book should move you, not in anyway dramatic but you must feel a push Click To Tweet
7. Who are your favorite authors to read?
Michael Cunningham, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ian McEwan, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison.
8. What is a book or who is an author you feel is very underrated?
Helon Habila. I read his Measuring Time last year, and thought, goodness.
9. E-book, audiobook or paper? How do you feel about making notes/highlighting books?
Paper, mostly because I have terrible vision, and come on, audiobooks? I personally don’t highlight my books, and it is not for anything other than I just don’t.
10. Fiction vs Non-fiction?
Fiction. Fiction is just a disguise, a ribboning of non-fiction either to cushion or experience the liberty of language.Fiction is just a disguise, a ribboning of non-fiction either to cushion or experience the liberty… Click To Tweet
11. What happens to you when you read a good book? (at the beginning, during and after the experience?
It is joy. It is envy. It is, at once and in all, awe. The progress really is sustained from start to finish.
12. Do you reread books? Why?
I do. It’s just a feeling- almost nostalgic even, of going back to something you loved and knowing nothing has changed about it but just experiencing it all over again. Sometimes you realise it is you who has changed, and with that, you take something else away from the book.
13. What book do you wish you could experience again for the first time?
Maybe The God of Small Things , My writing had been compared to Roy’s by someone whose work I admired, and I’d gone into it in search for similarities, or the lack of, even. I read it a second time afterwards and I was stunned by how much I didn’t take with me from the first reading.
14. What was the last great book you read?
Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life . Which is a book that tore me apart more for the volume, more for the writing, more for the gut-wrenching experiences that trailed its characters. It was a catharsis- that reading experience!
15. If you had to choose three books that everyone should read, what would they be?
16. What book(s) are you embarrassed to have read? What books are you embarrassed to still not have read?
The teenage years I spent reading Jackie Collins. I’m not embarrassed so much than I’m baffled how I read so much of it. I think it comes back to availability; that’s why it seemed like most of us read the same things. As for the latter, that list will hold many classics!
17. How do you feel about ‘classic’ literature?
It’d be careless to say that I feel nothing for them, wouldn’t it? Careless, and a little crass. But yes, I am drawn more to contemporary fiction. Some of these classics could be relatively difficult and inaccessible, and its value largely forged in academia or MFA programs geared toward experimental writing. I’d found some, even after repeated readings, virtually inscrutable.
18. How do you feel about book clubs?
Not a part of one, haven’t been, not sure I am keen to. I don’t know, I think it could be fun, but then it goes back to what I’d said earlier on how my reading is not mechanical, which is something I think book clubs operate on. I might be wrong though.
19. What book(s) have changed your life, and how?
The Hours. In many ways, there is never enough time to say it all.
20. How do you choose books to read?
I am big on recommendation by people I know who read. And I have a village. So with that, I go, not to its reviews, but to the excerpts, quotes, to get an idea of the writing, because very often it is wha sustains my interest in any piece of work.
21. What book are you currently DYING to read?
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy. It is her return to fiction after 2 decades! I have it preordered!
Keside Anosike is a Nigerian born writer and editor. Although he often shies away from the former label, Keside negotiates the world with rare lucidity through creative non-fiction stories and photographs on his Instagram profile @kecyfa. He believes strongly in human interactions, and underlines that the true sense of beauty is subjective to our encounter with things and people in the course of a day. Keside is currently studying Media Communications at Middlesex University and working on his debut novel.
Connect with Keside:
Instagram : @kecyfa
Twitter (even though he’s on a hiatus): @ShutUpKecy
Book’D is a weekly bookish interview series seeking to foster conversation about books. If you enjoyed this, please share with anyone who will too.
Read the last BOOK’D interview here.