Amanda is one of those people who is truly her own individual. I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting her and hanging out for more than a couple of hours and her brand of wit is absolutely delightful. Her writing is smart and engaging. And boy, does she read! Enjoy, you’re in for a treat!
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What are you currently reading? (indicate whether you’re wont to read more than one book at a time)
Of course I read many books at a time. There are people who don’t? Shocking.
Incomplete list of all the books I’m currently reading:
Longthroat Memoirs by Yemisi Aribisala
We Need New Names by Noviolet Bulawayo
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Dorothy Parker- What Fresh Hell Is This? by Marion Meade
What Was She Thinking? by Zoe Heller
What makes a great book for me is the insight the writer brings, the social commentary. There are books which blow me away that have very basic plotlines, but the insight is almost unreal. Like, why do you know so much about life and living like this?
Have you always been a reader? What is the first book you remember ever reading? What drew you into reading/why do you read?
Gosh. If my mother is to be believed, I started reading when I was barely a year old. As far as I remember, I read (and learned) the then 30 States and Capitals of Nigeria when I was two. I read cereal boxes, milk tins, taglines on the telly – name it. I especially remember reading classics from a very early age- abridged versions, of course- those Ladybird retellings of fairy tales, Aesop’s Fables and Nigerian stories like Mabel Segun’s books.
As a kid, I read simply because I was born that way. As an adult, I read because I simply must escape into other stories, explore other people’s realities, feel a textured range of emotions that I have no access to in my own life.
What is your philosophy on reading? (for example, some people have to finish every book they start)
Read what you like. I think there’s a lot of pretentious reading going on in this heyday of the romanticization of faux intellectualism. People read things which put them to sleep, things they cannot even begin to comprehend, mostly because such things are inherently incomprehensible. I will DNF anything that is too tedious for me. I realized early that some genres and some authors will always have close to zero appeal for me, no matter how feted they are.
How often do you read? And how do you fit it into your day?
I don’t really have a formula. I read every day, but I also have a demanding job. So I find time. I read in the mornings on my way to work, I read during the workday when I want to detox from reading policy briefs and concept notes all day, I read at lunchtime, I read at night for about an hour before I fall asleep.
Where do you like to read? Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever read a book?
Haha, I love this Q. The best places to read are nooks. Find a corner to wedge yourself in, contort your body in a surprisingly pleasant position and experience the best reading of your life. I read a lot on my bed, or on a mat/mattress on an open balcony. I cannot eat or brush my teeth without reading something. Also, moving vehicles where, if you use your imagination, it feels like a rocking chair.
What makes a good book, in your opinion?
Emotionally accessible stories are good enough, but what makes a great book for me is the insight the writer brings, the social commentary. There are books which blow me away that have very basic plotlines, but the insight is almost unreal. Like, why do you know so much about life and living like this? Perfect example is Problems by Jade Sharma.
What makes a great book for me is the insight the writer brings, the social commentary. Click To Tweet
Who are your favorite authors to read?
Jane Austen. Sefi Atta. Jeffrey Eugenides. Marian Keyes. Dorothy Parker. Chinua Achebe. Junot Diaz. Oscar Wilde. P.G. Wodehouse. Chuma Nwokolo. Ted Dekker. C.S. Lewis. Wendy Holden.
What is a book or who is an author you feel is very underrated?
Well, as I usually like my faves to be non-mainstream, this one is a bit difficult to answer. But I’m going to use an example from a mainstream author- Jeffrey Eugenides. His least popular book, The Marriage Plot , is a great favorite of mine. It is ten books in one, and the honest elitist characterization was refreshing to read.
E-book, audiobook or paper? How do you feel about making notes/highlighting books?
Paper, paper, paper. Ebooks are a last resort, and audiobooks are a no. I don’t need another voice in my head.
I want to be a puritanical bibliophile and say, eeew, highlighting, what rot. But some books I own are shameful bearers of fluorescent markings. My copy of The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis has maybe only five lines I didn’t color in vivid violet. It was that full of revs.
Fiction vs Non-fiction?
Fiction. I read some non-fiction like observational commentary and grammatical compilations like Mardy Groethe’s Viva La Repartee, autobiographies, etc, but I like to have at least the threads of a plot to give everything some coherence and chronology.
What happens to you when you read a good book? (at the beginning, during and after the experience?)
Haaayy. Organizing my thoughts to answer this Q just gave me a frisson.
I draw as much pleasure from finding, buying, owning, touching and smelling books as I do from reading them. Starting a new book that you just KNOW will be awesome is like meeting a love interest for the first time. Starting Longthroat Memoirs made my palms sweat, my chest tight, my gut churn with excitement. In the middle of books which knocked me over when I wasn’t looking, books like The Lover’s Dictionary , (I reviewed this here) like The Bell Jar, I find myself often stopping to just lie with the book on my chest and calm my racing brain. Sometimes I stop to savor a stellar turn of phrase, or to marvel at surgical insight, the sort authors like Sefi Atta deliciously marinate their pages in. At the end of stories which change your life like The Marriage Plot, you can only detox by lying facedown and letting your pillow soak your tears and acquired angst.
Starting a new book that you just KNOW will be awesome is like meeting a love interest for the first time. Click To Tweet
Do you reread books? Why?
Rereading books is the blood of the body of my literary life. Almost all the books I’m currently reading are rereads. Why should you read a book only once? If you eat something mind-bendingly wonderful once, will you never try it again? Exactly.
What book do you wish you could experience again for the first time?
Everything Good Will Come – Sefi Atta
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
The Harry Potter Series – J.K Rowling
What was the last great book you read?
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
If you had to choose three books that everyone should read, what would they be?
I feel like I keep harping on about the same books, but really, you can’t hide greatness under a bushel. Okay, here goes.
- The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
- Arrow of God – Chinua Achebe
- Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
Why should you read a book only once? If you eat something mind-bendingly wonderful once, will you never try it again? Exactly.
What book(s) are you embarrassed to have read? What books are you embarrassed to still not have read?
I think I’ve outgrown being embarrassed by the things I enjoy at any given time. I spent many years reading penny romance novels that people generally love to scorn– still do, actually. No apologies. But there are books I’m annoyed I read, like Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen , mostly because I couldn’t enjoy it for the sheer ‘manufacturedness’ of it all.
I’m embarrassed to not have read a Lorrie Moore book. I have her collected works, lent to me by a darling friend, but for some reason I haven’t gotten round to it.
How do you feel about ‘classic’ literature?
Well, as it’s my favorite genre, I feel like I might need a whole article to articulate my feelings. I cut my teeth on the classics, and they remain close to my heart. My favorite book ever is a classic – Pride and Prejudice . Classic African lit remains untouched by the contemporaries.
There’s a purity and originality in classic books that I find unmatched. Click To Tweet
How do you feel about book clubs?
In theory, I desperately want to be part of one. In practice, I don’t know. I have visions of pretentious pseudo-intellectuals asking mystifyingly empty questions like, “Yes, but is it art?” and me in all my baffled amusement snorting into a cup of tea. I don’t know.
Classic African lit remains untouched by the contemporaries.- @AmandaDozie Click To Tweet
What book(s) have changed your life, and how?
- Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen. Best beloved. First book I ever loved like a human.
- The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing – Melissa Bank. This book is why I romantic relationship the way I romantic relationship.
- Rachel’s Holiday – Marian Keyes. My first Keyes, this one taught me how to write in the style I currently do.
- Everything Good Will Come – Sefi Atta. This one gave me the gift of personal, social awareness. It told my story in an entirely opposite life.
- What Katy Did – Susan Coolidge. Childhood solidifier of a moral compass, the importance of being who you are, and it was just one of my greatest literary experiences as a six-year-old misfit.
- – Junot Diaz. On this list for showing me alternative brilliance, relatability and individuality.
- The Marriage Plot – Jeffrey Eugenides. What can I say? Have you ever felt something shift inside you that you can’t quite identify? Nothing to do with the story, but everything to do with how it’s told?
How do you choose books to read?
Blurbs which intrigue me. Recommendations by trusted people.
What book are you currently DYING to read?
Sefi Atta’s new book which she promises is coming soon. She can’t write it quickly enough for me.
Bluestocking, Music Dork, Teapot, Air Guitarist, Midi Skirt Afficionado, Professional Bleeding Heart, Pluviophile, Dilettante.
Connect with Amanda:
*DNF- Did Not Finish
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