BOOK’D| KOVIE PARKER
Kovie Parker is an art curator in Lagos. She is a maker and creator and most recently she kicked off La Luna Soy Candles, which are handmade and poured, lightly scented, natural soy wax candles. I also know she is a voracious reader and I follow her on goodreads. In this interview she shares how she keeps up with her reading, why she prefers to read slowly and the books she’s constantly re-reading.
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1. What are you currently reading? Do you usually read more than one book at a time?
Currently reading Toni Morrison’s Paradise.
I typically read one book at a time but if I’m undecided on what to read or unsure what I’m in the mood for, I may start several of different genres and styles until I find one that fully grabs my attention. As soon as that happens, I’m usually too enthralled by this new world to have the time or energy for anything else.
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 honestly cannot remember a time in my life when I didn’t have my head buried in a book (whether I could actually read and subsequently comprehend what I was reading is a whole other kettle of fish).I was always surrounded by books. My mum was an English teacher and an avid reader. Click To Tweet
I was always surrounded by books. My mum was an English teacher and an avid reader. My older brother by three years had earned the nickname “Professor” by the time he was 5 because he always had a book open in front of him. We didn’t watch a lot of TV and didn’t go out much either, so I guess reading was a pretty obvious choice.
I’m not sure I remember the first book I ever read, but I remember the first book I ever fantasized about reading: Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty. I’d just learned how to spell my name when I recognised it on the cover of this book my mother owned and really loved. For this reason, and the fact that it had the picture of a beautiful horse on the cover, I wanted so badly to read it. I can’t remember when I eventually did read it… probably at some point between the Enid Blyton books and Baby Sitter’s Club series or taking a break from the Junior World Encyclopaedia collection and Archie comics my brother and I were addicted to.
3. What is your philosophy on reading? (for example, some people have to finish every book they start)
I’ve gotten used to reading quite voraciously and attack books about the same way I do food; fight to the finish! Haha. Growing up, I could sit for hours in one spot, foregoing food and drink, just to finish a book. These days, I don’t have such liberties (unless I’m on holiday). So I’m learning to savour the experience, slow my pace and actually enjoy more than just the plot of the book; language, words, sentence construction and the like.I had to learn that I don’t have to read every book or love it because everyone else does. Click To Tweet
My time is a bit too precious to me now to suffer through a book I don’t like. I guess I had to learn that I don’t have to read every book or love it because everyone else does. I will make an effort, though, and hope to be pleasantly surprised. If by a third of the book, however, I’m still not feeling it, I give myself permission to let it go.I’m learning to savour the experience, slow my pace and actually enjoy more than just the plot Click To Tweet
4. How often do you read? And how do you fit it into your day?
I’m almost always reading something. There’s always a book by my bed. I take my kindle with me to meetings and appointments. There are books on my phone now (I know!). My job can be a bit time consuming, but I take breaks to quickly finish up one more chapter. I’m reading during my lunch break or bathroom break. I’m reading while stuck in traffic. I’m reading in church sometimes (don’t tell my mum) when there’s a lull in the service.There’s always a book by my bed. I take my kindle with me to meetings and appointments. Click To Tweet
But the reading I most enjoy is in bed on a Saturday morning – with a cup of tea and no impending deadlines.
5. Where do you like to read? Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever read a book?
I like to read in bed, away from the constant buzz of everydayness.
I love reading as an escape. As for weird places, I don’t have any exciting stories. Everyone reads in the bathroom, right?. When I was much younger, though, I used to curl under our very large dining table with a book. I liked it because I could be there for hours and go completely unnoticed.I like to read in bed, away from the constant buzz of everydayness. - @kovieparker Click To Tweet
6. What makes a good book, in your opinion?
Oh, anything I can get lost in! A good book has to make me feel something. If the writer is able to completely transport me, and I can’t tell where the narrative ends and reality begins, then they’ve won a fan.
7. Who are your favourite authors to read?
Hmm… this is like pulling teeth, but I’ll say Zadie Smith, Sefi Atta, Toni Morrison, Khaled Hosseini, Te’ V. Smith, Arundhati Roy, Edwidge Danticat, Teju Cole, and Marlon James.
8. What is a book or who is an author you feel is very underrated?
I wouldn’t say underrated, but it really makes me sad when I read bad reviews of Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go. I genuinely want to cry. Why???
it really makes me sad when I read bad reviews of Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go. - @kovieparker Click To Tweet
Also, definitely not underrated but Sefi Atta deserves much more recognition than she currently has. I mean whatever recognition she’s already got, it’s not enough. That woman is amazing!Sefi Atta deserves much more recognition than she currently has. Click To Tweet
9. E-book, audiobook or paper? How do you feel about making notes/highlighting books?
Anything, as long as it’s readable. I love paper and it’ll always be my first love but it isn’t always convenient. I don’t buy as many paperbacks as I used to because of storage space. It’s not practical to move them around. I had to leave quite a number of books behind when I moved to a new city, but e-books you can take with you anywhere. I’ve never really gotten into audiobooks.
I don’t buy as many paperbacks as I used to because of storage space. - @kovieparker Click To Tweet
I hardly ever highlight, even when I come across lines that I want to highlight. Mostly because I want to encounter that line afresh on a re-read without the distraction of our previous encounter.
10. Fiction vs Non-fiction?
You cannot make me choose! Both. I guess it depends on where I am and what I’m feeling in that period of my life.
11. What happens to you when you read a good book? (At the beginning, during and after the experience?)
It doesn’t happen often, but there are some books that grab you from the very first sentence and manage to keep that pace till the end. Julia Alvarez’ In the Time of the Butterflies is one that easily comes to mind. I know that I’ve read a great book when it takes a moment to recognise where I am or what my life is after I put the book down. Then, I don’t immediately rush off to start another book. Instead, I take a few days to let it simmer. I may text a few friends about it… in what feels like whispers; I’m so in awe, I don’t want to taint the experience with exclamation marks. LOL. I’m not sure I’m explaining this right.I know that I’ve read a great book when it takes a moment to recognise where I am or what my life is after... Click To Tweet
12. Do you reread books? Why?
All the time. There are books I read at least once every year. It’s like hanging out with old friends. I don’t know how many times I’ve read Te V. Smith’s Here We Are; Reflections of a God Gone Mad, or Yrsa Daley Ward’s Bone.
I just completed my third read of Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. I’ve read Liz Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love more times than I’ve seen the movie (which is a lot!), M. Gungor’s The Crowd, The Critic and The Muse has probably gotten more re-reads than my Bible, and I almost always instinctively reach for Sefi Atta’s Everything good Will Come when I need to read something easy and familiar or NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names for the laughs (at least in the first few chapters).M. Gungor’s The Crowd, The Critic and The Muse has probably gotten more re-reads than my Bible Click To Tweet
13. What book do you wish you could experience again for the first time?
Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life.
14. What was the last great book you read?
Zadie Smith’s Swing Time.
15. If you had to choose three books that everyone should read, what would they be?
Te’ V. Smith’s Here We Are; Reflections of a God Gone Mad.
Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life.
Magaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
16. What book(s) are you embarrassed to have read? What books are you embarrassed to still not have read?
Embarrassed? I’m not sure. Is it embarrassing to say that I’ve probably read all Jackie Collins’ novels? And that at one time in my life, Sidney Sheldon was my favourite writer?
17. How do you feel about ‘classic’ literature?
I’ve read some that I thoroughly enjoyed and a few that I’ll describe as ‘Meh’. I do think everyone should at least consider reading some of them but I don’t think we all have to love them. If it’s too much of a struggle, pass.
18. How do you feel about book clubs?
I’ve never actually been in one. But in an alternate universe, I run one. We meet for brunch and gush over our favourite lines and characters while drinking tea mimosas.
19. What book(s) have changed your life, and how?
Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life – The first time I read this book, I was useless for days after. Even though it broke my heart into a million tiny little pieces, it did so much more in strengthening my humanity. It provided a set of fresh eyes into some pretty heavy topics; depression and mental illness and pain and suffering. And has made me so much more intentional in my relations with the people in my life.
Sefi Atta’s Everything Good Will Come – This book reinforced my belief that there are many ways to live and that one can find happiness in whatever path they choose.
20. How do you choose books to read?
Recommendations. Book cover. Author. Or just good ol’ instinct.
21. What book are you currently DYING to read?
Independent curator. Occasional writer. Closet music-maker. Part-time creator. Full-time dreamer. Purposefully working towards ending each with a perfectly brewed cuppa and a forehead kiss.
Connect with Kovie
Book’d is a weekly bookish interview series seeking to foster conversation on books and reading. Read our last interview with Nigerian author Yewande Omotoso.