BOOK’D: DARKOWAA of AFRICAN BOOK ADDICT
Darkowaa of African Book Addict is huge reader of African lit and I love her instagram! Her blog is a great place to start if you’d like to read more African literature, or books by people of color who are not Nigerian. Interestingly, she didn’t like reading when she was younger and her reason for that is probably why some people didn’t either. In this interview, she shares how she balances reading with being a dental student. She also discusses her preference for paperbacks over ebooks and why she loves book blogging! Enjoy Darkowaa’s interview.
1. What are you currently reading? Do you usually read more than one book at a time?
I’m currently reading ‘Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar’ by Cheryl Strayed & re-reading ‘Houseboy’ by Ferdinand Oyono.
I don’t usually practice book polygamy unless the books I’m reading are of different genres and/or are experienced via different forms. Cheryl Strayed’s book is an audiobook and ‘Houseboy’ is a paperback. I’m concentrating more on the audiobook for now though. I’ll resume ‘Houseboy’ once I’m done with Cheryl and her heart-wrenching letters!
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?
My parents are staunch readers and we have a pretty big library in our home. But I didn’t like reading when I was younger. I think it’s because I was forced to read books I didn’t care about at the time, like ‘Black Beauty’ by Anna Sewell, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens (even though I grew to like his other work), ‘Anne of Green Gables’ the trilogy, by L.M. Montgomery etc.I didn’t like reading when I was younger. - @AwoDeee Click To Tweet
Even though I aced my English Literature courses in junior high and secondary school, I think I became a reader when I started to read books I appreciated, like when my Mom introduced me to her collection of Maya Angelou’s autobiography series, at the age of 13/14 (starting with ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’). My Mom is an original book lover and has influenced my taste a lot! I was drawn to ‘The American Girl Doll: Addy series’ written by Connie Porter (as I cherished my Addy doll – the only Black doll of the American Girl Doll collection, when I was younger) as well and some books by Judy Blume. In junior high school, I mostly borrowed books with black characters from my school library – like ‘Imani All Mine’ by Connie Porter, ‘Slam!’ & ‘Monster’ by Walter Dean Myers etc. Books with black characters were more exciting to me. They felt familiar, so I was drawn to them more. But even during those times, I wasn’t reading a shit ton of books. I still don’t consider myself a ‘bookworm’ (that’s another conversation for another day).I think I became a reader when I started to read books I appreciated. Click To Tweet
3. What is your philosophy on reading? (for example, some people have to finish every book they start)
Hmm… I don’t think I have one.
4. How often do you read? And how do you fit it into your day?
During vacations – depending on what I’m up to, everyday! During the school year (I’m currently a dental student) I read during study breaks and on weekends. But I try and read for about 40 minutes a day if I can.I try and read for about 40 minutes a day if I can. Click To Tweet
5. Where do you like to read? Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever read a book?
I read on my bed, in class when I wait for lecturers to arrive, in the car (if I’m being driven), on planes, at coffee shops, in the library. No, I don’t read on the toilet – I’m assuming that’s a weird place. Eww.
6. What makes a good book, in your opinion?
When the writer can either make me really love or really hate the characters through engaging (and not overly descriptive) prose.
7. Who are your favorite authors to read?
Maya Angelou, Jamaica Kincaid, Richard Wright, John Steinbeck, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Sister Souljah… I could go on and on and on!
8. What is a book or who is an author you feel is very underrated?
Books by Amma Darko, Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, Ayesha Harruna Attah… In fact, I think most Ghanaian writers are underrated. In March, I highlighted 75 of our amazing Ghanaian writers and their books. Unfortunately, most are underrated.
9. E-book, audiobook or paper? How do you feel about making notes/highlighting books?
If a book is more than 100 pages, I can’t read the e-book version. It simply won’t get read. It’s hard for me to enjoy books via digital copies. Paperbacks all day, everyday! How else will I build my personal library and leave the many gems I’ve acquired for my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren? I like audiobooks only when the author reads them and I’m familiar with his/her voice, so then, it feels like listening to a podcast.If a book is more than 100 pages, I can’t read the e-book version. 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?)
In the beginning and during, I usually make lots of noise about the book on Twitter. After, I consummate my joy with a rave review on Goodreads and maybe a picture of the book on Instagram. I usually review 97% of the books I read on my book blog though – whether I liked them or not. Reading is so much more fun when you’re able to share your thoughts with others and maybe encourage them to read the books you loved too! This is why I love book blogging.Reading is so much more fun when you’re able to share your thoughts with others - @AwoDeee Click To Tweet
12. Do you reread books? Why?
Sure. But it has to be a couple of years after my first read, else the reading experience will feel redundant. I’m currently re-reading ‘Houseboy’ by Ferdinand Oyono and the first time I was told (yes ohh! I had to read it by force) to read it, I was about 13 years old. I’m in my late-20’s now, so I’m reading Oyono’s masterpiece with a fresh understanding and appreciation.
13. What book do you wish you could experience again for the first time?
‘The Coldest Winter Ever’ by Sister Souljah, ‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Adichie, ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck, ‘Native Son’ by Richard Wright, ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ by Lorraine Hansberry and ‘Breath, Eyes, Memory’ by Edwidge Danticat (because I probably won’t ever read that book again. It was too beautifully painful!)
14. What was the last great book you read?
So far this year – ‘Questions for Ada’ by Ijeoma Umebinyuo, ‘Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression’ by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah and ‘Born on a Tuesday’ by Elnathan John.
15. If you had to choose three books that everyone should read, what would they be?
All I can think of right now is – ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ by Mitch Albom. But obviously there are more…
16. What book(s) are you embarrassed to have read? What books are you embarrassed to still not have read?
Why would anyone be embarrassed to have read a book? Consuming another’s art isn’t a crime, abeg. I can’t recall any book I’m ashamed of not having read yet. I read what I like and at my own pace. Ain’t no shame here!I read what I like and at my own pace. Ain’t no shame here! Click To Tweet
17. How do you feel about ‘classic’ literature?
What is ‘classic’ literature? To me, classic literature encompasses the work of Maya Angelou, Mariama Bâ, Franz Fanon, Toni Morrison, W.E.B DuBois, Jamaica Kincaid, James Baldwin, Ama Ata Aidoo, Chinua Achebe, Alice Walker, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Richard Wright, Earl Lovelace, Buchi Emecheta, Derek Walcott – just to name a few. Books by BLACK writers are my idea of ‘classic literature’. I gain greater consciousness from their works and I see myself in the worlds they create.Books by BLACK writers are my idea of ‘classic literature’. Click To Tweet
18. How do you feel about book clubs?
Sometimes I wish I was a member of a book club, with bookish friends I could call my ‘tribe’.
19. What book(s) have changed your life, and how?
**sigh** too many to name.
20. How do you choose books to read?
According to my mood. Setting up a TBR for the month is futile for me.
21. What book are you currently DYING to read?
‘Wizard of the Crow’ by Ngugi wa Thing’o, ‘Drown’ by Junot Díaz, ‘The House of Hunger’ by Dambudzo Marechera and ‘The Parking Lot Attendant’ by Nafkote Tamirat.
Darkowaa is a Ghanaian-American, currently living where her heart feels most at home – Accra. She doesn’t like to call herself a ‘bookworm’, but rather prefers to call herself an African Book Addict! Books by Black writers (or writers of African descent in Africa and the Diaspora) excite her the most.
Connect With Darkowaa
Blog: African Book Addict
Book’d is a weekly bookish interview series seeking to foster conversation about books and reading. If you enjoyed this, please share with anyone you think would too. Read out last interview with researcher and reader Ifeyinwa Arinze.