Ozoz inspires me so much. I call her ‘aunty Ozoz’ in my head. You may know her as Kitchenbutterfly because she’s such an innovative cook, who is constantly showing us new ways to use Nigerian ingredients to delight our tastebuds. She writes about life and food on her website and her instagram is bursting with life, food and love. In the midst of all of these, she’s a brilliant writer and Farafina workshop alum. So she knows books (and cookbooks). Enjoy!
*I use affiliate links so if you buy any of the books using my links, I may make a cent or two. It would be a great way to support a blog(ger) you love.
1. What are you currently reading?
Excuse Me! by Victor Ehikamenor – a collection of essays which I love. Victor is incredibly witty and funny.
The only other things I read as constants are cookbooks, mostly Nigerian ones which I collect!
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’ve always read. When you have an English teacher for a mum, you don’t have a choice. I’m not sure what my first books were but I remember the Little Mr and Miss Books as well as Beatrix Potter ones. Reading then was about the world beyond us, in the most imagined, imaginary way. I loved losing myself in them.
When I started reading Enid Blyton books – Famous Five, Secret Seven, Malory Towers, St Clares – they were about children like me. I imagined that everything they did from midnight feasts to adventures were possible.
Then there were the Pacesetter books which – at one stage – were all the rage, all we read in the 80s. That somehow etched patriotism and pan-Africanism in my head and heart.
3. What is your philosophy on reading? (for example, some people have to finish every book they start)
When I was younger, I used to think I had to finish reading books, even boring ones. Ha! In my old age, I’m particular about what I give my time to and so if a book is torturous to read, I quietly give it up. As Ariana Huffington said in her Smith College Commencement Speech On ‘Redefining Success: The Third Metric’, ‘I was personally very relieved when I realized that you can complete a project by dropping it. That’s how I completed learning to cook and learning German, becoming a good skier, and a list of other things too long to recite.’
4. How often do you read? And how do you fit it into your day?
I read everyday, mostly without structure. Whenever I can, I do – when I catch a break at work and some evenings, and right before I nod off. If I’m the zone, then I’ll read every night before I nod off but that hasn’t happened recently, I must say.I read everyday, mostly without structure. Whenever I can, I do. Click To Tweet
5. Where do you like to read? Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever read a book?
On the couch, in the car (if I’m being driven), on my bed.
Weirdest place? I’m not sure but the toilet isn’t considered weird, right?
6. What makes a good book, in your opinion?
A good book is a very personal conclusion. My best books are often at the intersection of life, inspiration and aspiration. Similar experiences, articulation of concepts and ideas draw me to these books and creates lasting memories.A good book is a very personal conclusion. My best books are often at the intersection of life, inspiration… Click To Tweet
7. Who are your favorite authors to read?
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
8. What is a book or who is an author you feel is very underrated?
Hmm, I have no answer.
9. E-book, audiobook or paper? How do you feel about making notes/highlighting books?
Very much paper.
Sometimes, I stop myself from making notes, worried about what people would say and then I say ‘Sod it – its my book so I’m going to do with it what I will’ and then I underline, highlight, make notes and leave wet patches when the bladder close to my eyes water.
10. Fiction vs Non-fiction?
Fiction mostly. For the beauty of imagination and thus, the escape
11. What happens to you when you read a good book? (at the beginning, during and after the experience?)
It changes me. Transports me to another space. Makes me cry, reflect, laugh – all the emotions I would experience with a good friend or when watching a romantic movie.
12. Do you reread books? Why?
I have tried but haven’t been successful at rereading books.
On one hand, I want to reread so I can relive and re-experience the things I did when at first I read…on the other hand, I’m like – why waste time rereading this book when I could be experiencing something awesome in a whole other book?
13. What book do you wish you could experience again for the first time?
14. What was the last great book you read?
15. If you had to choose three books that everyone should read, what would they be?
Fiction/ Charlotte’s web by E.B. White, 1952 – it touches on so many real life themes: choices and how we make them, the beauty and transforming power of friendships, especially unlikely ones
Non- Fiction/ Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth, 2011 – on food and in a way – hunger. Not just food hunger but what food hunger can show about the things we believe are missing in our lives, and how we relate to that, how we understand it and show up – albeit humbly to address them
Non- Fiction/ The Art of Possibility by Benjamin Zander, 2002 – Really a manual on how to live your best life with love, compassion and determination and in all honesty, in a way that I – now that I’m older- appreciate for its acknowledgement of the human but also the knowledge that there are better ways to live and be
16. What book(s) are you embarrassed to have read? What books are you embarrassed to still not have read?
17. How do you feel about ‘classic’ literature?
Shrugs. Its what it is. I’ve read some of it, but I don’t feel less accomplished for not having read ‘most’ of it.
18. How do you feel about book clubs?
Intrigued. Fascinated. Seeing the varied, sometimes diametrically opposed interpretations and perspectives that could come from the same text, because of personal experiences is quite amazing.
19. What book(s) have changed your life, and how?
Charlotte’s web by E.B. White – has made me a better friend
Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth, 2011 – I know when I’m emotionally eating…and address it
The Art of Possibility by Benjamin Zander – so much is possible with an open mind
20. How do you choose books to read?
I think they choose me – something in them appeals to me, or I get gifted, or there are answers to the questions therein
21. What book are you currently DYING to read?
Bassey Ikpi’s upcoming book and Lope Ariyo’s Hibiscus cookbook. I cannot wait. Did I mention the final draft of my book? No? Sigh and a wry smile.
Ozoz Sokoh is the Kitchen Butterfly. She is an Exploration geologist who loves loves food, writing and photography in equal part. She considers herself a ‘Traveller by lens and plate’ and has been featured on CNN’s African voices, The BBC, TEDX Port Harcourt, Food52 and in other spaces.
In 2013, she coined the phrase ‘The New Nigerian Kitchen’ – her philosophy and practice to celebrate and document Nigerian cuisine by reinventing and representing Nigerian food, unearthing history, sharing techniques, using old ingredients in new ways and focusing on in-season produce.
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