BOOK’D: NIKI IGBAROOLA
Niki is a fellow contributor to The Book Banque whose (speed)reading habits have piqued my interest. I decided to let her tell you all about books and reading in a BOOK’D interview. In this interview, she shares why reading more than one book at a time feels “maddening”, why she likes to finish every book she starts and the depth of her immersion in the reading experience. I enjoyed Niki’s interview and I know you will too.
1. What are you currently reading? Do you usually read more than one book at a time?
Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” – not a book I would have picked up, but it has been lying about the house for quite some time and finally won me over. I am dearly enjoying, my very SLOW read of it. There is a beautiful complexity to the way this narrative is unfolding and I am looking forward to it. Cannot read more than one book at a time, although during my Undergraduate and Postgraduate degrees, I had to have several books in rotation at once. Moving across genres, periods and ideologies was a bit maddening. Glad I can spend time with one book at a time now.
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?
All my childhood memories seem to revolve around reading. I cannot remember my life ever existing without books. My mother kept the house well stocked with books and was always supportive of replenishing the book stocks once I breezed through whatever was at home. My most vivid memory of falling in love with reading was an abridged version of Charles Dicken’s “A Tale of Two Cities” which in retrospect is a gory book to abridge for children but I was fascinated by the rich Parisian life Dickens painted in the narrative.Reading has allowed me meet people and visit places - I will admit to being very disappointed on my first visit to Paris think I much preferred visiting it through Dickens’ eye... Click To Tweet
Reading has allowed me meet people and visit places – I will admit to being very disappointed on my first visit to Paris think I much preferred visiting it through Dickens’ eye, even with revolution abounding. It is also a great way to understand better human complexity, writers, at least the good ones have a way of presenting characters that have complexity reflective of humanity. Reading reminds me to look at people beyond surface observation and it has helped me become a better interviewer and writer.Reading reminds me to look at people beyond surface observation and it has helped me become a better interviewer and writer. - @xNikkiyx Click To Tweet
3. What is your philosophy on reading? (for example, some people have to finish every book they start)
I like to finish every book I start, even the ones I find deplorable. It is a form of respect to the writer. Having never published a book of my own, I think the feat is so impressive that I will read all books through. Now if I am reading a book I despise and come across an old favourite or new interest, I will take a break to read that book as a palate cleanser before finishing the tedious one.I like to finish every book I start, even the ones I find deplorable. It is a form of respect to the writer. Having never published a book of my own, I think the feat is so impressive that I will read all books through. Click To Tweet
4. How often do you read? And how do you fit it into your day?
I used to read a great deal more. I can finish a book in a matter of hours so sometimes was able to get through two in a day depending on my mood. Life has gotten in the way of that and I hate reading books in parts especially books that I love so most of my reading is done at night in bed, on long train journeys or at the weekend. If I am called out of a book, my mood is greatly affected for the negative so I have had to stop reading when engaging with others to maintain civility with family and friends. It got really bad!
5. Where do you like to read? Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever read a book?
Bed. I love to read in bed. You feel safe and warm and it is the clearest DO NOT DISTURB sign possible. However, I always have a book in my bag in case of emergency like dull event, a layover or unexpected gaps in my days calendar. I am not sure about the weirdest place I have read but I will confess to reading through many school assemblies and a few parties. I will admit though, that whilst most people sleep with a stuffed animal or like to be cuddled to sleep, I need several books in my bed to get a good night’s rest.
whilst most people sleep with a stuffed animal or like to be cuddled to sleep, I need several books in my bed to get a good night’s rest. - @xNikkiyx Click To Tweet
6. What makes a good book, in your opinion?
A good book gets an emotional response from me – laughter that feels like joy, tears that feel like heartbreak, anger that spills over into rage. I want to lose myself in whatever emotions that author was looking to inspire in their reader. I want to feel irritation when someone pulls me out of the book because I am more invested in the narrative and its characters than I am in reality.
7. Who are your favorite authors to read?
Toni Morrison, Francine Rivers, James Baldwin, TaNehisi Coates, Nnedi Okorafor, Chinelo Okparanta, Buchi Emecheta, Flora Nwapa, Ben Okri – I also love to read autobiographies so always picking up new narratives.
8. What is a book or who is an author you wish more people knew about/read?
Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love is a book I have read at least once a year since I was maybe 11. It is a retelling of the book of Hosea in the Bible and the masterful way she approaches writing this story means that I have never gotten tired of it. Whether you are Christian or no, this is some excellent writing.
9. E-book, audiobook or paper? How do you feel about making notes/highlighting books?
Always going to be physical copies of a book for me. There is something about anticipating the turning of a page, that makes reading a sport. Notes and highlighting are a no for me – have done it for academic reasons but personally, no. I like to comeback to a book and discover new things unencumbered by my past opinions.
10. Fiction vs Non-fiction?
I cannot choose between fiction and non-fiction, my library is filled with both. I will say though that reading non-fiction inspires more research than fiction. It is interesting to compare how a person presents themselves against the information available whilst also learning more.reading non-fiction inspires more research than fiction... - @xNikkiyx Click To Tweet
11. What happens to you when you read a good book? (at the beginning, during and after the experience?)
It takes me quite sometime to come out of a good book, even when it is done, I am still somewhere in there and only half-present. I often dream about books I am reading, imagining possible narrative paths and endings if I have not finished the book. These dreams are quite vivid. I am a walking definition of someone who gets lost in a book. Sometimes, I catch myself picking up character traits that I have to actively walk off – perhaps reading about those characters shows me something about myself as I am pretty sure something of who I am today is partly in thanks to women who I have met in books.
12. Do you reread books? Why?
There are a few books I have definitely re-read and will re-read again but they are few and far between. Knowing how the story is going to unfold sometimes takes away that feeling of escapism I look for when reading.
13. What book do you wish you could experience again for the first time?
It is a tie between Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” and “Sula”. The pain in both is astounding, but the way Morrison writes community in Sula haunts me. I want to walk that town for the first time again.
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?
16. What book(s) are you embarrassed to have read? What books are you embarrassed to still not have read?
I went through a pretty heavy Mills and Boon/Harlequin Romance phase but not sure that I really am embarrassed by that. From my mum’s stories so did she. Sad that I have had a collection of Wole Soyinka’s essays for about five years and have never been able to read them through. He is one writer I feel I am not intellectually ready for but I am working towards it.Sad that I have had a collection of Wole Soyinka’s essays for about five years and have never been able to read them through. He is one writer I feel I am not intellectually ready for but I am working towards it. Click To Tweet
17. How do you feel about ‘classic’ literature?
Classic literature is a sort of sham. Not everything, no matter how masterful translates across generations or resonates with individuals in the same way. Dickens for example is someone who I have never been able to be amazed by beyond that abridged Tale of Two Cities from childhood but my best friend, on the other hand, absolutely adores his work. I am a lover of Chaucer and she is not. We both have degrees; in part, in English Literature. A few people get together and put pressure on a book and expect everyone else to agree or be deemed uncultured and that’s a very classist approach to reading.Classic literature is a sort of sham. Not everything, no matter how masterful translates across generations or resonates with individuals in the same way. - @xNikkiyx Click To Tweet
18. How do you feel about book clubs?
I love the idea, been part of a few but it has never quite worked out, we are all over the place. I know some run online, but I like having the conversations/arguments face to face. Going beyond the book to interact with others affected by a story much like you have been. Hopefully can fall into a working one in the future.
19. What book(s) have remarkably changed your perspective on a given subject or life in general and how?
Autobiographies have been the best form of literature for expanding my horizons. Jasvinder Sanghera’s “Daughters of Shame” was a beautiful find. It is Jas’ experience of being forced into an arranged marriage, coming out of it and working with other women to escape this fate. This is a glimpse into some parts of the Asian community in the United Kingdom and how women born in this country are held to traditional marital dictates that is detrimental to physical, mental and spiritual health. The stories detailed in this book and most especially because it is written by someone who has grown up within the community and experienced these atrocities made me take a deeper look into the reality of gender injustices occurring in Asian communities wIthin the UK.
My desire to protect BAME names and cultures in a Western space means that often times, I shy from engaging with discussions around sexual and gendered abuse with non-POC in the UK. However, reading this book, made me question how much of the truth I am blocking out by doing this. Pushed me to listen before passing judgement on comments that do not highlight BAME communities in the right light because there is evil occurring in every community that must be addressed regardless of personal sensibilities.
20. How do you choose books to read?
Honestly, I pick up whatever’s available. If I place a massive book order, I start with whatever is closest when I finally am free to read. I also take recommendations from friends, amazon, blogs, goodreads. Even a book unenjoyed is its own journey so I am easy on this part.
21. What books are currently on your to-be-read list?
The Mother of Black Hollywood – Jennifer Lewis
Black Privilege: Opportunity comes to those that create it – Charlamagne Tha god
Kumukada – Kayo Chingonyi
We were eight years in power – TaNehisi Coates
This is a very abridged list but definitely my January picks.
Niki is a freelance writer and marketing consultant. She is a budding academic with a rabid interest in pop culture. Niki is currently inspired by the works of Ta-Nehisi Coates and James Baldwin. She dreams of one day retiring in the magic of Shondaland. Till then, you can connect with Niki via her blog and BSN – a Christian Network for Black Women.