BOOK’D: ADEBOLA RAYO

Adebola Rayo is a writer and editor whose work brings me joy. I’ve already interviewed her once before on the 21 Questions column, but I also wanted to know her bookish habits. In this interview, she shares the weird thing she does before reading every book, why she must finish every book and her favorite underrated author. Rayo also recommends some of her favorite books. I have no doubt that you’ll enjoy this interview immensely.


 

1. What are you currently reading? Do you usually read more than one book at a time?

I often read two to three books across genres. Currently: Vladimir Nabokov’s memoir, ‘Speak, Memory’, A.W. Tozer’s ‘Knowledge of the Holy: Knowing God Through His Attributes’, and Charles Duhigg’s ‘The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business’—a fascinating book that explores habits and memory; subjects with which I have been obsessed this year.

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 started reading early because my parents were really into books. I cannot remember the first; I categorise the early books into series and phases. From childhood to early teen-hood: the Ladybird books, Enid Blyton books and African Night Entertainment series and then PaceSetters series.

Adebola Rayo bookshelf

3. What is your philosophy on reading? (for example, some people have to finish every book they start)

I read the last page first—yes, I know it is weird—so I mostly read books in which I am truly interested. I often finish books, whether I like them or not, because unfinished stuff makes me antsy.

I often finish books, whether I like them or not, because unfinished stuff makes me antsy. Click To Tweet

4. How often do you read? And how do you fit it into your day?

Sometimes I read a lot for long stretches. Other times, I go weeks without reading anything but articles. The latter happens mostly when I am working on something of my own or overwhelmed with work.

Sometimes I read a lot for long stretches. Other times, I go weeks without reading anything but articles. - @adebolarayo Click To Tweet

5. Where do you like to read? Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever read a book?

Ha, I read everywhere—coffee shops, cars, airplanes, and at home. The weirdest place is the toilet. I spent a lot of my childhood hiding out in toilets with books.

6. What makes a good book, in your opinion?

If I can get into characters’ heads and understand them, whether I like them or not, then I categorise that as a good book. I also really enjoy writers who use language creatively, regardless of their subject matter—like Marlon James.

If I can get into characters’ heads and understand them, whether I like them or not, then I categorise that as a good book. Click To Tweet

7. Who are your favorite authors to read?

This changes often.

8. What is a book or who is an author you feel is very underrated?

Cyprian Ekwensi, yo!

9. E-book, audiobook or paper? How do you feel about making notes/highlighting books?

Paper, so that I can scribble my thoughts in the margins and at the back. No, making notes on my phone is not the same thing. I am all for making notes and highlighting. I would be distracted if I had to write in another notebook, and then try to connect it to the line/paragraph that sparked the thought. I just do it right in the book.

I am all for making notes and highlighting. - @adebolarayo Click To Tweet

10. Fiction vs Non-fiction?

It really boils down to the book itself.

11. What happens to you when you read a good book? (at the beginning, during and after the experience?)

A good book is immersive so, while reading, I tend to forget that it is not my world. When I finish reading it, I feel like I have lost something.

A good book is immersive so, while reading, I tend to forget that it is not my world. Click To Tweet

12. Do you reread books? Why?

Some, yes. The three I listed later as books everyone should read are books I have read repeatedly. Sometimes, I reread because I really enjoyed a book, sometimes because I did not fully understand it the first time, and other times to learn technique.

13. What book do you wish you could experience again for the first time?

The Book of Night Women’ by Marlon James.

14. What was the last great book you read?

Nadja Spiegelman’s ‘I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This’.

Adebola Rayo

15. If you had to choose three books that everyone should read, what would they be?

The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy

Angela’s Ashes’ by Frank McCourt

The Book of Night Women’ by Marlon James

16. What book(s) are you embarrassed to have read? What books are you embarrassed to still not have read?

I am not embarrassed to have read or not have read any book. Reading is about enjoyment, for me, so it does not bother me if people look down on a book I like or if anyone thinks my ‘education’ is lacking because I have not read a particular book.

Reading is about enjoyment, for me, so it does not bother me if people look down on a book I like... Click To Tweet

17. How do you feel about ‘classic’ literature?

Maybe because I favour short stories, I absolutely love the classic short stories by the likes of Saki, Edgar Allan Poe, and D.H. Lawrence. However, I have not read many of the classic novels and I probably never will. Over the years, I have picked the ones that drew me in and read them, but I have been quick to discard others that did not. I also find conversations around most of the books considered great so boring it is easy to remove myself by insisting I have not read them.

18. How do you feel about book clubs?

I love them but I do not stick with them. People get people-y after a while, and leaving the house can be a chore.

19. What book(s) have changed your life, and how?

Purple Hibiscus, but not because of its content (which I love, by the way). I was 14 when it was published, and Adichie was the first young Nigerian author whose book I read, and who made a writing career seem attainable.

20. How do you choose books to read?

I have never consciously thought about this. Sometimes I am choosing the author because I have read about them or read other things they have written, while other times it is because of a great excerpt or review.

21. What book are you currently DYING to read?

Arundhati Roy’s ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’.


ADEBOLA RAYO is a full-time writer, editor, and TV series junkie. Her articles and short stories have been published in newspapers and magazines. She has a law degree and no idea what to do with it.

Connect with Rayo:

Twitter: @adebolarayo

Instagram: @adebolarayo