BOOK’D| MEL & AKUA OF THE SANKOFA BOOK CLUB
Mel and Akua run The Sankofa Book Club and host the Podcast of the same name. Every month, they read a new book by an African author and discuss it on the podcast. I really liked this episode even though I hadn’t read the book they were discussing. It’s always a good thing to listen to discussions about great contemporary African literature.
In this interview, they share their (vastly different) paths to becoming readers, the books that changed their perspectives on life and a lot of love for their personal librarian who I now need to meet. In addition, you’ll learn about Mel’s “good book” dance and Akua’s history as a “book-killer”. Enjoy this interview and head over to subscribe to their podcast when you’re done!
1. What are you currently reading? Do you usually read more than one book at a time?
Mel: I’m currently reading The Sankofa Book Club’s BOTM – The curious case of Dassoukine’s Trousers by Fouad Laroui. At (rare) times I try to read more than one book in order to satisfy my impatience, but I tend to read one book at a time.At (rare) times I try to read more than one book in order to satisfy my impatience, but I tend to read one book at a time. - @oh_merl of @thesankofabc Click To Tweet
Akua: To be honest, I’m taking a break! But Brit-ish is next on my list. I rarely read more than one book at a time.
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?
M: Funnily enough, I started off as “a reader” from a young age and even regularly attended a reading club in my secondary school, but then I lost that passion in my teens. I can’t remember the first book I ever read, maybe something from the Biff and Chip series. Back then, I would say I enjoyed reading because it satisfied my imagination and provided the inner-amateur-writer confidence.
A: Nooo not at all, I actually wanted to improve my writing so what what better way than to read some great writers for inspiration.
3. What is your philosophy on reading? (for example, some people have to finish every book they start)
M: Stop making excuses and just start reading.Stop making excuses and just start reading. - @oh_merl of @thesankofabc Click To Tweet
A: Enjoy it and/or learn from it. If it’s not doing any of those, put it on the eternal TBR shelf.
4. How often do you read? And how do you fit it into your day?
M: I read a book every month and find that I prefer reading before I go to bed and on the commute.
In the case of holidays I have a more relaxed approach to reading and pick up a book whenever I feel like it.
A: A book a month, two if I’m feeling naughty. How I read is entirely circumstantial; it depends on what is going on in my life, but I usually use reading to fill my time in a useful and entertaining way. That’s usually in the commute to work or when I find myself on facebook for the third time in an hour.How I read is entirely circumstantial; it depends on what is going on in my life, but I usually use reading to fill my time in a useful and entertaining way. - @akuaboats of @thesankofabc Click To Tweet
5. Where do you like to read? Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever read a book?
M: On the train, bus, car, coach, plane, ferry, horse and carriage. I’m not sure if this classifies as weird but it is definitely questionable – I’ve read a book at The Apple store.
A: Buses, to distract me from how annoying it is being stuck in traffic. But my favourite place to finish a book is on the toilet. I could go into detail but I don’t know if the readers are ready…
6. What makes a good book, in your opinion?
M: Something that challenges my belief systems, teaches me something new, intrigues my imagination.
A: Anything that changes the way I think.Something that challenges my belief systems, teaches me something new, intrigues my imagination. - a good book to @oh_merl Click To Tweet
7. Who are your favorite authors to read?
M: Lilian Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, C.S Lewis, Chigozie Obioma* (*the list will change in the future)
A: I’m still exploring.
8. What is a book or who is an author you wish more people knew about/read?
M: Killers of the Dream. I came across this great book when I was obsessed with Jane Elliot and her mission to tackle institutional racism in America particularly.
A: Afua Hirsch! She’s only released one book so far, but such a great journalist. Talented writer!
9. E-book, audiobook or paper? How do you feel about making notes/highlighting books?
M: Paper all the way! No I’m not a (fictitious) book-killer or a book-abuser. You should see my bible though, it’s a mess and tangible evidence of my double standard and hypocrisy.
A: Paper! They call me the Book-killer because I turn the corners of my fave pages but I can’t go as far as writing/highlighting in a book. It was out of desperation to make notes that I wanted start the podcast. To make the notes out loud and actually share my thoughts.
10. Fiction vs Non-fiction?
11. What happens to you when you read a good book? (at the beginning, during and after the experience?)
M: At the beginning, I do this giddy-shoulder-shuffle dance. During, I become passive and stay in my thoughts before talking to a someone about it. After the experience, I decide that I’m going to read this book again at some point.
A: I’m usually curious at the beginning. Probably start journaling about it during. Make a change in my life and force my mum to read it at the end.
12. Do you reread books? Why?
A: Only if it’s been a few years and/or I didn’t like it the first time. Everybody deserves second chances.
13. What book do you wish you could experience again for the first time?
M: Homegoing! If I could tweak my experience, I would refrain from listening to Solange’s album “A Seat At The Table” around the same time that I read this book ‘cause it can foster some real dark times man!
14. What was the last great book you read?
M: Bruh, this question is a toughie! Instinctively, I thought “I need more reading years so that my answer isn’t prematurely given”. For now, I’d say Born A Crime.
A: Born A Crime.
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?
M: Anything I have read, even if it wasn’t enjoyable or I questioned it’s quality, I read with confidence. In the case of the books I haven’t read….hopefully I’ll get to read them at some point.Anything I have read, even if it wasn’t enjoyable or I questioned it’s quality, I read with confidence. - @oh_merl Click To Tweet
A: I love Maya Angelou’s work as a poet, educator and activist but I still haven’t made it through I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I started reading it when I was very young and some of the content put me off but I’ve not re-attempted to read it since.
17. How do you feel about classic literature?
A: Nothing lol
18. How do you feel about book clubs?
M: I hate them all apart from The Sankofa Book Club (just jokes). There can never be enough!
A: Well done to all of you pulling it off.
19. What book(s) have remarkably changed your perspective on a given subject or life in general and how?
M: The Velveteen Rabbit. I’ll just leave you with this quote from the children’s book:
“….Generally, by the time you are real most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all because once you are real you can’t be ugly, except to those who don’t understand.”
A: Things Fall Apart introduced me to Africa. It wasn’t the Africa I’d read about in school nor was it the Africa I’d been living in for the past year. It opened my eyes up completely and made me realise all the varying circumstances that have made the continent what it is today.
20. How do you choose books to read?
M: I’ve got to pay respects to The Sankofa Book Club’s curator, Sam. I also choose books from browsing the internet and recommendation from friends or stuff that I watch.
A: I have a personal librarian named Sam.
21. What books are currently on your to-be-read list?I really want to explore African sci-fi - I was raised to love the continent and Star Trek, let’s see what happens when the two collide. - @AkuaBoats Click To Tweet
I really want to explore African sci-fi – I was raised to love the continent and Star Trek, let’s see what happens when the two collide.
Melody is a young adult who has spent years pursuing her interest for science. Born and raised in South London, she is enthused by her desire to learn more about her roots. Besides eating, Melody is also passionate about living life and laughing.
Akua is a twenty something year old from South London. At the age of thirteen, she relocated to Ghana with her family and returned to the UK five years later, with a newfound love for her culture. Her other passions include waakye, jet-setting and live music.
Book’d is a weekly bookish interview series seeking to foster conversation on books and reading. Read our last interview with middle grade author, Mae Respicio, here.