BOOK’D: NANCY ADIMORA

Nancy Adimora is the Founding Editor of online literary magazine, AFREADA. AFREADA features short stories from emerging writers across the African continent. If you love bite sized stories, there’s a short story up every Friday! Also, if you fancy, you could even read this story I wrote over two years ago.

Nancy is incredibly passionate and AFREADA has been a great labour of love. Interestingly, she hasn’t always been a reader. In this interview, she shares her experiences of googling through required reading in school and how she discovered her love for relatable stories. We also talk about the craziest thing she’s ever done to read a book, why rereading books is important to her and the one book and author she’s *ahem* slightly obsessed with. Enjoy this delightful interview!


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

I’m currently reading HOLD, (Hold is to be published as Housegirl in the US) the debut novel by Ghanaian-Londoner, Michael Donkor. In addition, I’m reading Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster.

The first is a fictional story that follows the lives of three Ghanaian girls, whilst the latter is a non-fictional faith-based guide to spiritual growth. I can only read them concurrently because they couldn’t be any more different. The thought of reading two novels at a time makes me itch!

The thought of reading two novels at a time makes me itch! - @NancAdimora Click To Tweet

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 was the Biff, Chip & Kipper series. If you know, you know (shout out to all my OGs that know!) But, I don’t think I can say I’ve always been a reader. For example, I didn’t finish any of the required reading for GCSE/ALevel English – not one. I used to read the first couple of chapters and then Google my way through the rest of the term. Now I feel your judgement and can almost see the raised eyebrows, but John Fowles’ The French Lieutenants Woman didn’t speak to me. Sure, I could read the words but I couldn’t relate to any of the characters or themes.

I’ve come to realise that I don’t love literature as an art form in itself, I love relatable stories. I became a reader the moment I came across books and stories that felt familiar. Click To Tweet

Since then, though, I’ve come to realise that I don’t love literature as an art form in itself, I love relatable stories. I became a reader the moment I came across books and stories that felt familiar. My friends and I started with African-American literature and systematically passed around Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree (shout out to all my OGs that know!) Then, one Christmas when I was fourteen years old, my Aunty Nene bought me a present that literally (literally!) changed my life. Half of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I don’t think I can say I’ve always been a reader. For example, I didn’t finish any of the required reading for GCSE/ALevel English – not one. I used to read the first couple of chapters and then Google my way through the rest of the term. -… Click To Tweet

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

Never read two novels at the same time!

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

I read pretty much every day. Other than AFREADA submissions, I try to read during my lunch breaks at work and, if I can, I also like to chill with green tea and a good book when I get home.

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

I’m pretty sure reading was made for bed. That’s definitely my favorite spot, but the weirdest place I’ve read a book was in my car, parked on a side road behind Dalston Market in London. I was driving back to Uni after bingeing on Americanah and I was at the part where Ifemelu had just reunited with Obinze. Understandably, my head was all over the place. After nearly colliding with a motorbike (it was his fault sha) I decided to temporarily abandon the journey, park up, and reach for the 477-page cause of my anxiety. I reclined my seat allll the way back and stayed on that road for well over an hour. I was in heaven. It’s been five years but I still can’t drive past that road without picturing Obinze keenly observing Ifemelu after so many years and finally saying “I maka” *insert heart-eyes emoji*

I’m pretty sure reading was made for bed. That’s definitely my favorite spot, but the weirdest place I’ve read a book was in my car, parked on a side road behind Dalston Market in London. - @NancAdimora Click To Tweet

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

I love beautiful writing but I’m not a fan of unnecessarily complex sentences. Really, I don’t want to see the letters that make up the words, or the punctuation that structures the sentences. When I read I want to see colour, hear conversations, smell and taste foods – I want to be fully immersed in the story. Give me characters that are dynamic and believable, couple that with a solid plot and I’m sold!

I don’t want to see the letters that make up the words, or the punctuation that structures the sentences. When I read I want to see colour, hear conversations, smell and taste foods - I want to be fully immersed in the story. Click To Tweet

7. Who are your favorite authors to read?

Well I don’t know if you’ve figured it out yet but Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is bae. Chinua Achebe is a legend that I owe so much to; his work has blessed me in unspeakable ways. Chigozie Obioma made me feel emotions I never knew existed when I read The Fishermen. I’m also going to throw Khaled Hosseini into the mix so I’m not accused of only reading Igbo writers!

8. What is a book or who is an author you wish more people knew about/read?

So The Path Does Not Die by Pede Hollist! Brilliant book.

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

That’s not even a question! Physical books, of course! (Even though listening to Born A Crime by Trevor Noah on Audible was the best decision I made last year!) I don’t mark up my books, but I don’t feel strongly against it. Do you, boo.

I don’t mark up my books, but I don’t feel strongly against it. Do you, boo. - @NancAdimora Click To Tweet

10. Fiction vs Non-fiction?

Fiction, hands down.

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

I walk around with a smile plastered on my face.

12. Do you reread books? Why?

Very rarely. Recently, I went back to Americanah because I was looking for a particular passage towards the end of the book and I ended up reading the last couple of chapters in its entirety. I was pleasantly surprise by how I could still enjoy the process even though I knew how it ended. Sometimes, particularly when I’m overwhelmed with reading submissions, going back to a few of my favourite books is a good reminder of why I started AFREADA.

Sometimes, particularly when I’m overwhelmed with reading submissions, going back to a few of my favourite books is a good reminder of why I started AFREADA. -@NancAdimora Click To Tweet

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

Americanah. (I promise this is the last time I mention that book!)

14. What was the last great book you read?

Ameri – just kidding. What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah. Lesley took all the rules of writing, carefully gathered it up with a dustpan and brush, and respectfully threw it in the bin. What you’re left with is a truly stunning collection of stories that I couldn’t recommend any higher!

@larimah took all the rules of writing, carefully gathered it up with a dustpan and brush, and respectfully threw it in the bin. What you’re left with is a truly stunning collection of stories that I couldn’t recommend any higher! Click To Tweet

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

Noting my earlier promise, I’ll say:

What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma.

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

Lol I can’t think of any embarrassing books I’ve read but I’m definitely ashamed to not have read Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo. I bought the book days after it was published, and made the innocent mistake of showing it to one of my aunties when she came over. My intention was to show it to her and return it to my bookshelf  – so when she excitedly ran her fingers over the front cover and thanked me before carefully placing it in her handbag, it’s safe to say that I was more than a little heartbroken. I’m over the trauma and I’ve re-ordered it so looking forward to reading it soon!

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

Lol I have no comment other than the fact that most of them were the books I ‘Googled’ my way through during secondary school!

18. How do you feel about book clubs?

I don’t like talking about books as much as I like reading them. But, I guess it depends on the vibe – you won’t catch me in a book club full of literary scholars, but I’m definitely down for a chilled conversation.

I don’t like talking about books as much as I like reading them. - @NancAdimora Click To Tweet

19. What book(s) have remarkably changed your perspective on a given subject or life in general and how?

I’m going to go ahead and say the Bible because inasmuch as it’s the Word of God and a guide to life, it’s also a pretty dope short story collection. Crime-Thriller, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Romance you name it, it’s in there!

20. How do you choose books to read?

I’m pretty plugged into an online community of readers/writers so I have a good sense of what’s coming up and which books people are talking about.

21. What books are currently on your to-be-read list?

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo.

The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Shukla (I’ve started it, it’s excellent so far, but need to finish!).

The Secret Lives of Baba Segis Wives by Lola Shoneyin (It’s been sitting on my bookshelf for years! I need to read it before it comes out in theatre this Summer!).

The 2016 Writivism Anthology: Sundown and Other Stories.


Nancy Adimora is the Founding Editor of AFREADA, an online literary magazine featuring short stories from emerging writers across Africa. She recently completed an MSc in Leadership and International Development with the African Leadership Centre at King’s College London, and earned her Bachelor in Laws (LLB) from Queen Mary, University of London. Born and raised in London, Nancy remains close to her native Nigeria. She is passionate about social innovation and multimedia storytelling in Africa, and works on strategic partnerships with the TEDxEuston team.
Twitter: @NancAdimora and @AFREADA.