BOOK’D| ABENA aka BOOKWORMINGH

Abena aka bookwormingh (Bookworm in GH where GH stands for Ghana) is a PhD student, book blogger and booktuber whose reading habits I decided to probe. In this interview she talks about the weirdest place she’s ever read (and it IS weird!), why she stopped wasting time on books she doesn’t enjoy and why no one should be shamed for reading certain genres. In addition she gushes about the two book clubs she’s formed this year and her love for African writers and stories. Enjoy Abena’s interview!


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

I’m currently reading Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology but was reading The Dilemma of A Ghost and Anowa by Ama Ata Aidoo as well. I was reading the latter for class but it’s also something I had wanted to reread for a while. After finishing The Dilemma of A Ghost and Anowa, I read The Housemaid by Amma Darko.

Most of the time I read only one book. But, sometimes when I find myself without the book I’m currently reading and find another book nearby, I end up getting into that and then reading more than one at once. Occasionally too, I’m reading one ebook and one physical book at a time.

Most of the time I read only one book. But, sometimes when I find myself without the book I’m currently reading and find another book nearby, I end up getting into that and then reading more than one at once. 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?

Yes, for as long as I can remember I’ve been a reader, thanks to my parents’ influence. I was surrounded by books, growing up. Both my parents read a lot and often and also made sure my siblings and I had lots of books, with African and black characters we could relate to. I still remember reading Paddington, a book I got as a prize for best pupil in my class at age 6. Personally, I read because I get to experience different places, people, emotions and events, life is never boring when you love reading.

Abena aka bookwormingh

I read because I get to experience different places, people, emotions and events, life is never boring when you love reading. - @bookwormingh Click To Tweet

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

My philosophy on reading is that life is too short and there are too many wonderful books in the world to force yourself to read a book you’re not enjoying. Anytime I find I’m struggling with a book – and it’s not something I have to read for school – I just stop and move on to something else. I used to feel bad about that but discovering that there are lot more books out there waiting to be read has helped me get over it.

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

I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t read. Unless I’m stuck in a place without a book, and that’s rare these days when usually you’re bound to have your phone with you everywhere. Even if I don’t have a physical book with me, I just read an Ebook on my phone. Usually, I read at night before bed. But, whenever I feel like reading and I’m not busy with other obligations, I read.

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

My favourite place to read is in bed. I’ve read in many weird places but I think for now the weirdest place I’ve read is in the labour/delivery ward at the hospital. I was reading in between contractions while waiting to deliver my daughter.

I’ve read in many weird places but I think for now the weirdest place I’ve read is in the labour/delivery ward at the hospital. I was reading in between contractions while waiting to deliver my daughter. Click To Tweet

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

A good book to me, is one that keeps me thinking about it after I’ve put it down, that makes me want to ditch responsibilities to read just to find out what happens next. In my opinion, a book that surprises me, keeps me guessing or gets me thinking is a good book.

A good book to me, is one that keeps me thinking about it after I’ve put it down, that makes me want to ditch responsibilities to read just to find out what happens next. - @bookwormingh Click To Tweet

7. Who are your favorite authors to read?

I have such a long list of favourite authors and I keep discovering new ones but just off the top of my head: Ama Ata Aidoo, Ayesha Haruna Attah, Ayi Kwei Armah, Neil Gaiman, Philippa Gregory, Jodi Picoult, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Dorothy Koomson.

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

I’m not sure this counts as completely obscure but Ayi Kwei Armah’s book, The Healers is one of my favourite books ever, although it seems The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born is more popular. Also, Amma Darko is a Ghanaian writer whose books I’ve really enjoyed. I finished The Housemaid recently and it’s a good book

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

Paper first, E-books second. I tried an audiobook once and realized it’s not something I can get into. I’m open to trying it again another time though. When I take notes I do that in a word document or in a notebook not in the book itself. I only highlight pdfs or e-books, never print books because I like to keep my books as pristine as possible.

I only highlight pdf copies or e-books, never print books because I like to keep my books as pristine as possible. Click To Tweet

10. Fiction vs Non-fiction?

Fiction all day everyday. I can probably count the number of nonfiction books I’ve read voluntarily on one hand.

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

I either become very pensive, if it was one of those books that make you think. Or, I become very happy and energized. I’m also inspired to write when I read a book that impacts me positively.

I’m also inspired to write when I read a book that impacts me positively. - @bookwormingh Click To Tweet

12. Do you reread books? Why?

When I was younger I used to reread books all the time, probably because I had more time to read. As an adult, though, I have less time to read, and more books I want to read so I don’t reread much lately even though there are some books I’d love to read again.

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

I wish I could experience The Book of Night Women for the first time again. I enjoyed it so much. Also, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives.

14. What was the last great book you read?

That would be The Book of Night Women, I enjoyed it a lot and it made quite an impression on me.

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

The Healers by Ayi Kwei Armah, The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and bonus, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

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

I’m not embarrassed about any books I’ve read because I feel that any book that I enjoyed is well worth it no matter what the public opinion about it may be. I also think it’s a bit unfair for some people to think certain genres are inferior to other forms. For example, I’m not embarrassed to say I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the fifty shades trilogy although I found it hard to read the rest. I also enjoyed Pride and Prejudice which some would consider a classic piece of English literature.

My tastes differ from time to time and I think people should be allowed the freedom to read whatever without feeling ashamed or guilty. Click To Tweet

My tastes differ from time to time and I think people should be allowed the freedom to read whatever without feeling ashamed or guilty. Funnily enough, I however do feel ashamed that I haven’t read certain African classics like Chinua Achebe’s A Man of the People, and Wole Soyinka’s books for example

I’m not embarrassed about any books I’ve read because I feel that any book that I enjoyed is well worth it no matter what the public opinion about it may be. - @bookwormingh Click To Tweet

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

I think the term ‘classic’ literature is subjective. However, when I hear the word ‘classic’, certain books immediately come to my mind. Really, I think there should be a bit of freedom for people to decide what is classic literature to them although I admit there are certain works which should be granted the honor of being held in that category. Classic books to me are books that transcend the era in which they were written and are found to still be relevant/relatable decades later, they are timeless.

Classic books to me are books that transcend the era in which they were written and are found to still be relevant/relatable decades later, they are timeless. Click To Tweet

18. How do you feel about book clubs?

I think Book clubs are a wonderful idea. Reading tends to be such a solitary activity but it’s such a lovely experience to get to know that someone else read the book(s) you have read and to share your thoughts with each other. I think Book clubs also help to motivate people to make time to read because there’s some level of accountability. Anything that gets more people to read is a great idea in my opinion. I formed two book clubs this year, one for a group of fellow mums (The Mums United Reading Club) and another with my sister and some friends (The Sisterhood of Readers); they’re both going very well.

Reading tends to be such a solitary activity but it’s such a lovely experience to get to know that someone else read the book(s) you have read and to share your thoughts with each other. Click To Tweet

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

Karen Armstrong’s A History of God really gave me more insight into my own thoughts about religion and opened my eyes to the different events that led to the creation of some of the most prominent religions in the world today. 

20. How do you choose books to read?

I don’t really have a method for deciding what to read. Usually, I scan my library or my dad’s. Sometimes friends will recommend something they’ve read, or more recently since I joined bookstagram, books that are talked about a lot catch my eye and I note them down for later.

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

I never know what’s on my to be read list. Recently, I tried creating a TBR after I started my YouTube channel and rather ended up not reading any of the books on the list. I like to be flexible and just decide what to read based on my mood not on a set list which would make reading feel like a chore for me. Still, I want to read The Children of Blood and Bone and the rest of the Binti trilogy soon!


Abena aka bookworminghAbena Kwatemaa Karikari is a book blogger and writer currently undertaking a PhD at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon. Her academic background is in Anthropology, Sociology and English.
An avid reader from childhood, Abena is particularly passionate about books by and about Africa and its peoples. She lives in Accra with her husband and daughter to whom she is passing on her love of reading.
You can follow her on social media @bookwormingh on Twitter and Instagram and Bookworm In Gh on YouTube.