BOOK’D: AYOBAMI ADEBAYO
Ayobami Adebayo needs no introduction. Her debut novel ‘Stay With Me‘ (which I reviewed here) was shortlisted for this year’s Bailey’s Women’s Prize For Fiction. This year alone, Ayobami Adebayo has been interviewed by Vogue and The Paris Review. As a major fan of ‘Stay With Me‘ and Ayobami in general, I decided I had to have her on BOOK’D. She shares the meticulous way she strives to get reading done, which three books she’d want to have if she were stranded on an island with books for company and some of her favorite authors. Enjoy!
1. What are you currently reading? Do you usually read more than one book at a time?
I usually read two or more books at a time. There’s always one novel, the other book(s) could be anything else. Right now, I’m reading Shubnum Khan’s Onion Tears and Collected stories of John’ O’ Hara.
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?
The first books I remember reading were Ladybird books, the Peter and Jane series if I recall correctly. Everyone in my immediate family reads voraciously, so I’ve always been surrounded with books and fell in love with them early on.
3. What is your philosophy on reading? (for example, some people have to finish every book they start)
I do try to finish every book I start and I do that because I’ve been surprised by several books that didn’t seem good initially but turned out to be brilliant by the time I got to the end....several books that didn’t seem good initially...turned out to be brilliant by the time I got to the end Click To Tweet
4. How often do you read? And how do you fit it into your day?
I read every day. I organise my day with to-do lists and if I’m very busy, I include the number of pages I want to read that day on the list.
5. Where do you like to read? Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever read a book?
It always feels luxurious to be able to read in bed, I don’t get to do that as often as I’d like. On the loo? Only it doesn’t feel weird to me because as far as I can remember I’ve always taken a book with me to the toilet, but maybe it’s weird for other people?It always feels luxurious to be able to read in bed. - @ayobamiadebayo Click To Tweet
6. What makes a good book, in your opinion?
I’m partial to books that somehow manage to make the world they’ve created seem even more real than the one I’m living in and each great book does this in its own unique way.
7. Who are your favorite authors to read?
Elizabeth Strout, Edwidge Danticat, Colm Toibin Junot Diaz, Toni Morrison, Hillary Mantel, Jhumpa Lahiri, Rebecca Solnit, Jonathan Franzen, Akhil Sharma, Wole Soyinka, Sefi Atta, I’ll stop at twelve names but I could go on.
8. What is a book or who is an author you feel is very underrated?
I don’t know if it’s underrated, but I do wish more people would read Cheik Hamidou Kane’s Ambiguous Adventures.I do wish more people would read Cheik Hamidou Kane’s Ambiguous Adventures.- @ayobamiadebayo Click To Tweet
9. E-book, audiobook or paper? How do you feel about making notes/highlighting books?
All of them but in this order- paper, e-book, audiobook. If I haven’t highlighted my favourite paragraphs, is it really my book? Did I actually read it?If I haven’t highlighted my favourite paragraphs, is it really my book? Did I actually read it? Click To Tweet
10. Fiction vs Non-fiction?
11. What happens to you when you read a good book? (at the beginning, during and after the experience?)
I often feel as though I’ve stepped through a portal into another world, one that I will always carry with me even after I’ve read the last page.I often feel as though I’ve stepped through a portal into another world. Click To Tweet
12. Do you reread books? Why?
Yes, when I think a book is exceptional, I often go back and read it more closely as a writer, by that I mean I attempt to figure out why it’s so excellent.
13. What book do you wish you could experience again for the first time?
L.P. Hartley’s The Go-Between.
14. What was the last great book you read?
Paolo Maurensig’s incredibly subtle The Luneburg Variation.
15. If you had to choose three books that everyone should read, what would they be?
One, just three? Two, I can’t confidently recommend books to people I don’t know because taste is such a subjective thing. However, if I were stranded on an Island with only three books for company, I would want them to be The Book of Psalms, Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman.
16. What book(s) are you embarrassed to have read? What books are you embarrassed to still not have read?
I read with unadulterated pleasure, there’s no room for embarrassment or shame.
17. How do you feel about ‘classic’ literature?
What is classic literature?
18. How do you feel about book clubs?
I imagine that they must be great but I’ve never belonged to one.
19. What book(s) have changed your life?
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka. How Fiction Works by James Wood. To say they changed my life might be an exaggeration but these books did influence me in lasting ways.
20. How do you choose books to read?
At the beginning of each month, I make a list of books I’d like to read during that month but I often end up reading books that aren’t on my list.
21. What book are you currently DYING to read?
The Mirror and the Light by Hillary Mantel. It’s the last book in her Cromwell trilogy. She’s said that it might not be out until 2019 but that hasn’t stopped me from stalking her publisher’s website for updates.
Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ holds BA and MA degrees in Literature in English from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife and has worked as an editor for Saraba magazine since 2009. She also has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia where she was awarded an international bursary for creative writing. Ayobami has been awarded fellowships and residencies by Ledig House, Sinthian Cultural Centre, Hedgebrook, Ox-bow School of Arts,and Ebedi Hills. Her debut novel, Stay With Me, has been published in the U.K, Nigeria, the U.S and Kenya, with translations into thirteen languages forthcoming. It was shortlisted for the Kwani? Manuscript Prize and the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.
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BOOK’D is a weekly bookish interview series seeking to foster conversations about books and reading. If you enjoyed this, please share with someone you think would too. Read our last interview with Lade Tawak.