BOOK’D: AFOMA UMESI
1. What are you currently reading? Do you usually read more than one book at a time?
Technically, I hardly ever truly read more than one book at a time, because one book is always more engaging than the others. What usually happens is that I start reading one, get bored, start another and then another until I finally have the perfectly paced book for me. Right now, the choice is The Boat People.
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 been a reader. My father is big on books; he buys more books than he’ll ever read in his lifetime (sorry dad) and as kids most of our gifts were books. My dad bought them sporadically. I remember reading the Ladybird books from The Ugly Duckling to The Little Red Hen and then progressing to books like Without a Silver Spoon by Eddie Iroh which I read and reread voraciously. Eventually I moved on to books by Danielle Steel and Barbara Taylor Bradford.I read because I deeply enjoy words. Watching a human create a new universe with words will never tire me. Click To Tweet
I started reading because it was irresistible; it fired my imagination and opened my eyes to a bigger world outside. Today I read because I deeply enjoy words. Watching a human create a new universe with words will never tire me. Additionally, reading still transports me to new places every time I crack open a new book and nowadays I find myself craving that exercise in imagination when I haven’t read in a few days.I've always been a reader. My father is big on books; he buys more books than he'll ever read in his lifetime. 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 a philosophy. One thing I do is try not to give up too easily on books that are difficult at first, because some of them such as Ghana Must Go have been my most rewarding reads. My new thing is challenging myself to read at least 50% of a book before I give up on it. Most books have plots that pick up around the 35% mark.My new thing is challenging myself to read at least 50% of a book before I give up on it. - @afomaumesi Click To Tweet
4. How often do you read? And how do you fit it into your day?
I read every day. My Bible reading is finally integrated into my routine to the point that I cannot start my day without it. As for leisure reading, I read articles and blog posts online everyday. Books, during good weeks, I read daily. Other weeks, at least two or three days in a week. Regardless of circumstances, I try to read from a book at least once a week.I try to read from a book at least once a week. Click To Tweet
5. Where do you like to read? Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever read a book?
I like to read in bed early in the mornings and in the evenings. I’m also a big couch reader. I read nearly everywhere, from queues to hospital waiting rooms. My bathroom is great for reading because my spotty wifi is absent there so when I really want to get through a huge chunk without being distracted by my phone, I go to the bathroom.
Reading at parties is something I haven’t managed because I feel like I’d be being terribly rude and also parties are noisy.
6. What makes a good book, in your opinion?
Plot and language. I think both elements compensate well for each other. A good book is one whose pages you cannot stop turning. When I review books, I always ask myself, “was I engaged throughout this story?” and if I was, as a highly distractible reader, that’s automatically a good enough story. Language, the writer’s insights on life, narrative and descriptive prowess are always welcome bonuses.A good book is one whose pages you cannot stop turning. - @afomaumesi Click To Tweet
7. Who are your favorite authors to read?
Currently, Taiye Selasi, Hala Alyan, Brit Bennett, Kamila Shamsie, Ann Patchett, Ayobami Adebayo, Brene Brown, Zinzi Clemmons, Chimamanda Adichie, Eloghosa Osunde, Esther Edoho, Khaled Hosseini to name a few. I’m obviously partial to women writers. Always have been.
8. What is a book or who is an author you wish more people knew about/read?Pettina Gappah always manages to create stories that feel well crafted and original. Click To Tweet
9. E-book, audiobook or paper? How do you feel about making notes/highlighting books?
All of the above. It depends on the book. I like audiobooks for non fiction, because most non fiction have the author narrating. Narration is everything with audiobooks. I like paperbacks for long, slow reads because my kindle has a way of making me feel like I’ve lost my place and then I can’t flip back a few pages to remind myself who’s who.Narration is everything with audiobooks. - @afomaumesi Click To Tweet
Ultimately though I will forever be grateful for the genius that is the kindle. Lighter than most paperbacks and holds soo many books, I’ve almost bought a number of books twice because I forgot I already own them.
I’m big on highlighting and writing in margins. I love making my mark on books I own and coming back to see highlights without having to reread the entire thing.I love making my mark on books I own and coming back to see highlights without having to reread the entire thing. Click To Tweet
10. Fiction vs Non-fiction?
Fiction. All day, everyday. I’ve read good non fiction like Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air and Brene Brown’s Rising Strong, but nothing beats fiction. The absence of boundaries, the little truths that hide in between the “fiction” make fiction magical.The absence of boundaries, the little truths that hide in between the fiction make fiction magical. Click To Tweet
11. What happens to you when you read a good book? (at the beginning, during and after the experience?)
I know a good book from the first sentence. You just know. It’s exactly what Amanda says in her interview; like “meeting a love interest for the first time”. You just know. There are always the slow starters, but even with them, you’re intrigued. Then in the middle, time stops and nothing else matters but seeing how things end. After a good book, I feel shaken, shook. I need time to collect myself, I miss the characters for days after, I research the author, I am consumed by this other world. Of course I write a goodreads review and try not to say the cliche words “dazzling, riveting, stunning, moving”. Yet, I often do.After a good book, I feel shaken, shook. I need time to collect myself, I miss the characters for days after... Click To Tweet
12. Do you reread books? Why?
I hardly ever do. I’ve only reread a handful of books in my life and most I reread out of a lack of books. I have enjoyed reading Purple Hibiscus multiple times though. And Ghana Must Go because Selasi’s language is poetry. Nonetheless, I like to reread highlights and favorite passages of some of my favorite books.
I don’t reread whole books because I get bored and cannot shake the feeling that I’m wasting my time.
13. What book do you wish you could experience again for the first time?
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan. I had actually never experienced this feeling until I read Salt Houses.
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?
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
I chose these three because anybody would enjoy them (they’re THAT good), even people who’ve never read a book cover to cover.
16. What book(s) are you embarrassed to have read? What books are you embarrassed to still not have read?
I can’t think of any books I’m particularly embarrassed to have read, although I wish I hadn’t spent so much time reading romance as a teenager. There aren’t any books I’m embarrassed to not have read. I don’t think reading is a contest. If I haven’t read a certain author yet and I’d like to, then I’ll try to. But there are far too many books in this world to think I could possibly read them all.There aren't any books I'm embarrassed to not have read. I don't think reading is a contest. Click To Tweet
17. How do you feel about ‘classic’ literature?
Lol. I really don’t care. Indifferent.
18. How do you feel about book clubs?
I like the idea. In reality though, I’m exhausted after talking about a book for more than ten minutes with someone. Sooo, I guess a book club is not in my future.
19. What book(s) have remarkably changed your perspective on a given subject or life in general and how?
Honestly, the only book I can claim has changed my life completely is The Bible.
The Fault In Our Stars was the first book that ever made me cry. Not one tear out of one eye, but wracking, ugly crying. Hosseini’s Kite Runner made me feel more anger than anything I’m ever read until date. And The Book Thief is soft, and yet strong. Also the first book I ever read narrated by Death itself (which I thought was VERY cool). I randomly remember lines from each of the books mentioned above. Most recently, Brooklyn by Colm Toibin felt poignant because it deals with homesickness and the recognition that you can find home elsewhere.The Fault In Our Stars was the first book that ever made me cry. Click To Tweet
20. How do you choose books to read?
I’m always on the hunt for books to add to my TBR list so Twitter, Goodreads, every book list online and most recently Instagram! I also do the irrational thing my friend Tiwa does, choose only by book covers. So yes, I totally judge books by their covers.I totally judge books by their covers. - @afomaumesi Click To Tweet
21. What books are currently on your to-be-read list?
Pettina Gappah’s Rotten Row, Cecily Wong’s Diamond Head and Ming Jin Lee’s Pachinko are currently at the top of my list but we all know my TBR list is a perpetually sprawling mess. And I like it like that.
That’s all folks! I hope you enjoyed my take on BOOK’D!
Afoma Umesi is a twenty-something year old literary enthusiast, writer and photographer. She is happiest talking to people about God and His purpose. In her spare time, she writes about books on her website (right where you are now) and on thebookbanque.com. She is conscientiously working on taking better selfies.