The days have been much longer these last couple of months. The sun rises around 5am and sets around 9.30pm. However, sunny or not, I always try to find time to do the one thing that takes me to other worlds. Once all my work is done for the day and I can find time to curl up with a good book, all is well with me.
My love for reading started when I was in primary school, preparing for the National Common Entrance Examination. My Dad insisted that I read all the classics: Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Wuthering Heights, Silas Marner and the Adventures Tom Sawyerr, all junior versions though. I remember that I couldn’t sleep through thunderstorms at night after reading Wuthering heights because I feared Catherine’s ghost would come in frommy bedroom window, but I still finished the book. I also read Enid Blyton’s Famous five, Malory Towers and the Secret Seven series. We even named one of our dogs Timmy, after The Famous Five dog but our dog died of worms (or something equally horrid) before it was a year old.
By the time I started secondary school I was well and truly hooked on reading. I attended an all- girls’ school so it was no surprise that romantic books were very popular. I read so many Mills& Boon, Silhouette and Harlequin books that these days I can hardly bring myself to read any book with a cover picture of a scantily clad man wrapped round a woman. I think I got my life’s dose of romantic novels in my six years of secondary school. Our school library also lost a number of Pacesetter bookscourtesy of me and my friends (remember For Mbatha and Rabeka or Evbu, my Love?). They were so good we never returned them and instead passed them round.
I enjoyed also English Literature as a subject at this time. I devoured Thomas Hardy’s Mayor of Casterbridge, and The Trumpet Major. I loved Nigerian writers like BuchiEmecheta’s The Bride Price. My favourite books were Arrow of God and Things fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. I remember acting out some parts of both books with my friends in our dormitories at school. I alsodiscovered plays. I found Macbeth very scary, especially the witches and Lady Macbeth’s insane ambition. The Marriage of Anansewa was funny but nothing beat The Trials of Brother Jero byWole Soyinka. Does anyone remember witty comebacks in the play like when a hawker answered Amope’s inquiry about the source of a foul smell by retorting that the smell was from Amope’s mouth? Genius!
At university I read different genres: Science fiction, Sagas and Drama, Action and Adventure, Mystery, Diaries, Fantasy etc from Jeffery Archer and Sydney Sheldon’s books to Danielle Steele and Agatha Christie’s. I read more African classics like The Beautiful Ones are Not Yet Born. Surely someone can remember the graphic description of decay in the book? I enjoyed Animal Farm and felt sorry for poor Boxer; Sons and Lovers, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Tess of D’Urbervilles, Far from the Madding crowd and Nineteen Eighty-Four. As a law student I also read John Grisham’s A time to Kill and The Pelican Brief.
The internet, digital libraries and online bookstores like Kindle and Okadabooks have made it very easy to access good books. I have read books about life in Asia: A good Indian wife: about an Indian woman travelled to America to marry a man she did not know. Our Lady of Alice Bhatti and the Kite Runner were also thought-provoking books. I enjoyed Americanclassics like The Grapes of Wrath, Tokill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men more recently, The Help. I also found Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager series and Sara Donati’s historical fiction series very informative. I discovered a lot about conspiracy theories when I read Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, the Lost Symbol and Inferno.
Now whenever I feel homesick I can re-read books like Flora Nwapa’sEfuru, Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun and trust them to transport me back to Nigeria. Who didn’t laugh at Ugwu’s canine-like devotion in Chimamanda’s book? (notice me using her first name like we are pals?)I have read books about Italian families and culture: Lucia, Lucia; Irish family sagas like Marian Keyes’ books and Scottish Highlander books. I am now in love with medieval historical books. I’ve read many books by Phillipa Gregory and more recently Hillary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and I learned about the kings and queens of England. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about King Henry VIII’s chequered life. Honestly! Six wives? He was an African man at heart! I still read light-hearted ‘chick-lits’ as they called: Bridget Jones’ diary, Jilly Cooper’s Rider, Jump; Rachel Schurig’s Three girls series.
I implore more people to pick up a book and be transported to another time and place. A book is a journey into other minds. Books will always be there for you even when people are not. They can provide comfort, ideas for overcoming difficulties, sharpen memory, reduce stress or provide simple fantasy to escape from the mundane or difficult situations. They help develop analytical skills and can help create a sense of tranquillity and peace. One of the greatest things about books is how your mind and imagination interacts with the author’s creation. There are books for every mood or feeling so why not buy one, borrow one, or download one to your computer, phone or tablet?
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Use your mind or lose it!Whatever else you plan to do this week/month, put reading a book on your list.I get that we are all super- busy, me included. However, reading is a more worthwhile use of downtime, more rewarding than stalking people / arguing/fighting or just gaping at weird and impossible rubbish on Facebook and Instagram.
BTW, I am thinking of starting an online book club where we can choose books together, read them and discuss them in detail but I want to know if you think it is a good idea.
Just click here https://padlet.com/abi_adeboyejo/khy44q19e687 and leave your book suggestions and ideas anonymously. Takes 20 seconds. Thanks!
“There comes a time when you have to choose between turning the page and closing the book”.–Josh Jameson
Abi Adeboyejo lives in Birmingham, UK, with her two children and her fabulous man, who by the way, prefers that his wife writes down her thoughts than listening to her musings on everything.