Thursday, 23 February 2017

The Documentation of Kindness

These days it seems like our experiences are not real or not authentic or not complete if they are not photographed. We have made the world such that documenting a meaningful experience feels not only more important than having that experience, but as also an evidence of the truthfulness of that experience.
It bothers me.
It bothers me because kindness is no longer kindness, humility is no longer humility. What I mean is that it is impossible to just go out to an orphanage, for example, and just lend help to orphans who need it. I imagine that an act of kindness ceases to be that once pictures are taken. It becomes a craft of showmanship. I began to think of this seriously around the end of last year. I and a group of course mates went into a community to do a field posting exercise and we were basically hustling to get everything on camera, we wanted to take pictures of every single form of help we rendered. It was literally a hustle. But it was not wrong because we actually did not intend to help anyone. Our primary objectives there were dictated by our course and so we were not being kind, we wanted to get the marks and we could only get them by taking pictures so we would show our lecturers that we did such and such while we were there.
However, thinking about it in the light of people who just want to render help and assistance, It did not seem like they would do anything differently. In fact, social media is littered with such images: People taking selfies with orphaned children or motherless babies or street beggars and so on with cartons of noodles and cartons of milk and bags of rice and bags of beans and sacs of yam littered so obviously on the ground. They are giving to the less privileged, but they are also advertising their goodness and kindness and humility and humanitarianism to the rest of the world. They are telling the world about their kindness, like: Look, world, look how kind I am. Look how caring I am. I am such a good person.
And then they post these pictures all over social media and other folks like them gush about their humility. I am so, so utterly proud of your kindness; how you are helping out these miserable kids who are nothing, absolutely nothing, without you.
It bothers me.
It is worse when white, privileged people come into an African country, say South Sudan, with their bright, long blonde hair and dark sunglasses and their tanned skins and their tight jeans; and wrap their arms around skinny, kwashiorkored African kids and smile dumbly at the cameras and then post long sermons with these selfies on Facebook and Instagram about how their lives have been changed by their visit to the very war-torn, ravaged Africa and the poor, poor, suffering African children with zero hopes in life.
Utterly silly hashtags such as #InstagrammingAfrica are used to depict these selfies. The narcissism is immense. How about they shove their ideas of voluntourism in Africa down the toilet and instead send the money for their trips and hotel accommodations and feedings and bracelet buying to Aid Agencies stationed in those countries, the kids, these kids who they claim they love and who’s suffering has utterly changed their lives, would definitely benefit more from that than from being featured in their ridiculous photographs and silly hashtags and lengthy captions.
The less privileged are not tourist attractions, they are not beautiful bronze carvings, they are not murals made from papier-mâché art; they are human beings just like you who is so intent on taking pictures of them. All they need is love and kindness and food, they definitely do not need their faces on your stupid, conceited, narcissistic selfies.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Waiting for the Sun

This is the morning of thirteenth February; I am sitting in the courtyard by my studio apartment, waiting for the sun to come out. It is 1.06 am. I have a few thoughts that may seem like ramblings, they probably are.
Yesterday, many things happened. Yesterday began sometime around 5.30 in the morning when I decided that I would go to the same church I went last week Sunday. It is a large church very close to where I live. It has more empty white plastic chairs than members and when I went there for the first time, what struck me the most was the fact that none of the members seemed to mind this sparseness. It is unlike the twenty first century church. When it was time to welcome new comers, they welcomed me and two other young men. At the close of church, they did not tell us ‘we hope to see you next week.’ or ‘please join us for our midweek services,’ they told us, ‘God bless you.’ I could have sworn that they were trying to get rid of us. It was strange and I was curious to know why they were so satisfied with being a church with so few members, so satisfied with all those empty white plastic chairs, it was that curiosity that led me back there yesterday. And it is that curiosity that would make me a permanent member if I am to stick around here much longer.
I don’t keep New Year resolutions because I am way too fickle for them. But the idea of resolutions at the start of each year does not seem like a bad one. I understand resolutions like: I want to read more books this year, I want to give to the less privileged this year, I want to listen to more music, I want to party harder. The ones I don’t get are the most common: I want to lose weight this year, I want to stop smoking or stop drinking, I want to become a new person. These are very complex things that cannot just start and stop by the push of a button, and you do not really need to wait for the first day of the year to attempt to begin to achieve them. In the last few years, instead of making resolutions, I have set one single goal for the year. Like last year, my goal was to read thirty five books. I achieved thirty five in November so I met my goal with one month to spare. The year before last, my goal was to get back to school and study Public Health. I got admitted in November, I met my goal with one month to spare. But the problem with setting a single goal for the whole year is this: What happens when you achieve your goal for the year in February? Maybe I should start setting New Year resolutions.
As far as I am concerned, one of my better stories was published on Bella Naija on the 23rd of December, 2014. It is called The Thing that Eats People Up. It is about a dead man’s side-chic. I was just reading it again and I realized (again) why I love it more than many of the stories I have written. I love The Thing that Eats People Up because of the character, Ade’s Wife. It took me close to five months to finish the story because of her. The whole idea for the story came while I was in NYSC camp in August, 2014 and I met a lady whose carriage was so sublime that it was difficult to contemplate life before or after her when she was in the same vicinity as you. I modelled Ade’s wife based on this lady – (still, she was cheated on – men are scum, yes?). I never saw the lady again after camp not because I did not want to, I wanted to, up till this moment, I want to. But there are thirsts are better left unquenched. On nights like these, when I await sunrise, I think of NYSC Camp at Kubwa and I think of The Thing that Eats People Up and inadvertently, I think of Ade’s wife.
It’s 3.08am. I am still waiting for the sun. Good morning, good afternoon or goodnight!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Thoughts from Places: Benin City

Benin City smells like when you dice garlic into extra-hot vegetable oil. The people there are literally 'not your mate' (they let you know this every chance they get): from the guy who gives you directions and when you say thank you, he says ‘I hear’ in a manner that is so apathetic, you cannot help but feel a sense of condescension, to the pot-bellied cabbie who is obnoxiously singing long to the radio as P-Square’s extinct hit from the 19th century, Busy Body, plays and then a man riding a jeep turns the bend suddenly and narrowly avoids hitting him and he laughs hysterically and says, ‘no be who dey ride big car na who get sense’, ‘it is not the person that drives a big car that has sense.’ Or the old lady who owns the restaurant and sees you standing and asks why they have not attended to you and you point at the queue in front of you and she tells you, ‘e be like say hungry never do you.’ And she goes ahead to do the same thing with all three people on queue.
There is an air of calmness. It’s almost as if they know that there is absolutely nothing to be in a hurry about. They are not quick to laugh even though to you, the visitor, almost everything they say is hilarious. Like in a bus ride, a girl sitting in the back tells the driver to stop and he drives a bit further before he finally does but she remains seated and he looks at her and says ‘no be you say you wan stop?’ and the girl says, ‘as you don pass the place wey I wan stop now, wetin you wan make I do?’ and the driver says, ‘okay, make I dey go?’ To which the girl, dressed in a dashiki, altered so much, it now looks more like a bikini, begins to storm out of the bus. Once she’s gone, the driver hisses and snidely remarks, ‘I for carry her reach New Bini.’
Even the students are not playing. There are only a few speed bumps along the road leading to the University of Benin, and to the University Teaching Hospital, there are none. The city tells you, ‘Nobody gives a shit, take care of yourself.’ Or more like, ‘take care of yourself, Idiot.’ The students are unflustered by this and unflustered by everything, very unlike many Nigerian university students. It hardly seems as though anything worries them. They saunter around, dressed in whatever the hell they like, waiting for you or a bus driver or a conductor or a fellow student or anybody at all to provoke them, waiting to give you a piece of their mind. The proportion of students in the University of Benin who dress as though they know about decency or propriety or even piety is more or less negligible. In Nigerian universities, you often find that female students in year one and generally pious female students, the ones called SU dress obviously: long black skirts and large, leather long sleeved shirts or long black shirt and a huge parachute of a hijab whose one single job is to hide every cleavage or idea of cleavages attempting to rear its ugly head, you can’t miss them. At Uniben, however, the case is different. I did not see a single lady dressed as an SU or in a hijab, fancy or parachute. Even the dashikis that many ladies wore had been severely altered so that it looked like lingerie.
Benin City is also a place where fetishism thrives. I heard of this many times before. People make jokes about it. There are pictures that normally circulate on Facebook, there is one of some Edo woman tying red clothing around an electric pole and the caption reading: Oya PHCN, if dem born una well come cut light. Maybe this is the reason you feel the calmness ― there is nothing to fear. It is not something they hide even. They talk freely about it in buses and cabs. For example, the same fat, obnoxious cabbie who was laughing and saying it is not who drives big cars that have sense, when asked what he would have done if the big car had hit him and had caused an accident, said ‘na bird I be na. No be to fly comot?’ I was scared of this fetishism a bit on the day I was to leave. I needed to check out as early as 6 in the morning to catch the car coming back and at that time it was still dark, the sun was yet to rise. I devised a plan: I wore a black shirt on a black trouser and that solved my paranoia. The few people I met as I walked from my hotel to the ju1nction to get a cab heading to the park swayed off my path. When you live in Rome…
It is a nice city, Benin. It is full of history and art and signs and wonders, as well as good people who would make you laugh regardless of your mood.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

My Experiment with Commitment

I have had a problem with commitment all my life. In nursery school, one of the teachers, Aunt Bamisaye, liked to ask what our favourite colours were: mine was blue and then it was orange and then it was green and then it was black and then it was blue again. And even now, sometimes it is pink, sometimes it is brown, sometimes it is grey. In Secondary School I was average, even though I could be much better. I did not want to commit to spending some extra-time where I ought to spend them. In relationships, my first lasted about three weeks. The first week, I called her at least twice each day. The next week, I called her twice. My last, which only just ended, began November 23rd. It lasted 53 days, relatively, that’s a long time. You know how on WhatsApp you have these very long conversations in one day that you just keep scrolling and scrolling and that day never seem to end? It was like that with her at first. It is like that with me all the time, the conversations get shorter and shorter until they cease to exist. And many times, even though I know I owe them an explanation for leaving, I do not explain because I cannot explain.
In 2017, two of the things I hope to be more are consistent and committed. And so I carried out this experiment.
There is a popular experiment called the Beach Blanket, developed by Tom Moriarty: When a person left their beach blanket unattended and an item was stolen, only 1 in 5 people intervened. However, when the blanket owner made people commit by asking them to look out for their belongings while they were gone, people intervened 95% of the time.
I aligned my experiment along Moriarty’s. I picked out fifteen people. Five of them, I had not spoken to at all this year. Five of them, I said happy New Year to on New Year’s Day, and Five of them, I had spoken with at least twice, or seen, this year. I asked each of them how they were doing and then I told each of them that I was embarking on a journey to Benin City the next day, which I was (journey coincided nicely with experiment).  I did not say what my purpose for the journey was even though all but one asked.
I wanted to measure if my problem was like my fiction: just a figment of my imagination; if people readily committed to others better than I did.
They do.
All the five people who I had not spoken with during the year called me after the journey. Two of them called me twice during the journey. One called three times during the journey and twice after: one time to ask how I was finding Benin City and the second time to ask if I was suitably rested and do I like ‘their’ food? She is from here, so maybe there was a bias?
For those who I had only said happy New Year to on New Year’s Day, four of them called after the journey. Three called during the journey and one woke me up at five am and said, ‘have you brushed your teeth? Hope you know the buses leave here at six?' (here is Ilorin). When I asked what she was doing awake at five in the morning, she said she asked two of her roommates to wake her up but they did not need to because she was already awake a little bit before five o clock.(Humans are lovely!)
For those who I had spoken to a lot or seen this year, four of them called during the journey, three after the journey and one just called again (I am typing the first draft of this at 21:29 pm on Thursday by my hotel room window in Benin City) and asked if I had found any ‘cute Benin Chicks yet.’
These results have shown me that yes, I have a problem, but no, my problem does not mean that other people who are friends of mine are affected by it in such a way that would make them not concerned about me as I am sometimes not concerned about them.
There is a quote I saw once, ‘you always have two choices: your commitment versus your fear.’
My fear has dwarfed my commitment for too long. It is time to make a change.
(Thanks to everybody who (unknowingly) participated in my experiment).

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happiness, Joy and Love

When I was asked to prospectively name my year, 2017, with three words, I decided: Happiness, Joy and Love.
There is a difference between happiness and joy, to quote the author of The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger, “The fact is always obvious much too late, but the most singular difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is a solid and joy a liquid.”
I wish that 2017 would be the best year we have ever had. That we would find happiness, that we would find happiness in such a profound way, we would literally bask by it day after day after day; we would take it everywhere we go, we would speak of it minute after minute after minute because it a thing that is tangible, that is obvious, that is solid; that our happiness would bring contentment, contentment that does not just mean we are fine with what we have but that we are in absolute love with what we have and we can hardly imagine anything else but.
That we would find joy; that we would find the kind of joy that a child finds on the day he sees a colourful kite flying past for the first time – that this joy we find would intoxicate us, free us up, unbox us, unshackle us. The way the little boy chasing this kite laughs and follows and follows and laughs and is absolutely, irreverently beautiful chasing what is joy. I want to be the child chasing the kite. I want joy like the badly produced nollywood movies where the guy has been suffering all his life and finally gets a good job and 30 seconds later new clothes and 30 seconds later a car and 30 seconds later a mansion and 30 seconds later the girl of his dreams, the sultan of his heart sauntering by like a Christmas chicken on Christmas eve, still very unaware of tomorrow’s fate.
I wish we find love. Not love like Jane Austen novels, the love that matters. The one that makes us feel, makes us understand, makes us. Love that would help us empathize with people in bad places. I wish for the kind of love that trumps hate at every single competition, over and over and over. That type that would make us see that other people, even though ideologically different, feel things too, just like us. The love that would make us understand that our differences are but mere patterns that beautify our paths.
Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Gyred Falcons and Labyrinths of Suffering: Books of 2016

Every year, since this blog was established in 2013, I do a brief review of some of the books I read during the year and found most interesting. This year would be no different. I read a lot of books in a 2016 that has been my busiest year in a long time. They were mostly fiction, can you blame me? It felt as though the more fire they were setting on the world, the more fiction I was reading. In fact I came to a conclusion this year that there is nothing non-fiction books can do for and to a person that fiction cannot do twice or three times more, absolutely nothing.
From the gyred falcons that were Ben and his brothers who could no longer hear their falconer in The Fishermen to the Labyrinth of suffering that General Simon Bolivar was desperate to get out of in his death in The General in his Labyrinth, I present to you, dear readers, my books of 2016.
1.      A Monster Calls
A Monster Calls is a small novel written by Patrick Ness about a boy Conor O’Malley, who was a victim of school bullying; and how he comes to terms with his mother having cancer. Every 12:07 am Conor meets with a towering monster. The monster claims he would help Conor by telling him three stories after which Conor will tell the monster one of his own. As the story progresses, Conor’s mother, who has been undergoing chemotherapy becomes worse. After all of the Monster’s stories, Conor is forced to tell his and confront his personal demons. The Monster Calls is a beautiful story of hope in times of troubles. It is amazing how such a small story is able to mean so much. I think that is one of the important things that stories can do for us. Here’s a nice excerpt: Stories are important, the monster said. They can be more important than anything. If they carry truth.
Conor’s mother eventually died at exactly 12.07 am, however, because of the stories, Conor is able to accept it.
3.5 of 5
2.      This Is How You Lose Her
This Is How You Lose Her is a book of short stories by the amazing Junot Diaz. The first story I read from it was Alma, a fascinating, hilarious, extremely vivid, playboy sort of story. I read it in 2014 as part of required reading for a writing workshop I had attended. At that time I did not know that it was from a book of stories but I found it brilliant and I laughed all through. During the workshop I learnt that it was from a book of short stories by Junot Diaz and I made a mental note to find it. I did not find it until May 2016. What I found most fascinating about it was how Most of the stories, save for the first two, were written in second person, You. I write in second person sometimes and I can confirm that it is very difficult to keep up consistency writing in the second person singular. The stories are a sort of satirical manual, for men on how not to lose a girlfriend – but maybe it depends on who is reading, it could also be a manual on how to be a player. Though the stories are fiction, they seem so real and that is probably what Junot Diaz got right the most with this book. This uncanny ability to make fiction seem like it is a memoir. I am going to give a little excerpt for the first story in the collection so you get a feel of what the book is like.
The first story in the anthology of nine stories is titled The Sun, The Moon, The Stars and here is a short excerpt:
I’m not a bad guy. I know how that sounds— defensive, unscrupulous— but it’s true. I’m like everybody else: weak, full of mistakes, but basically good. Magdalena disagrees though. She considers me a typical Dominican man: a sucio, an asshole.
3.9 of 5
3.      Diary of a young girl
This is the story of Anne Frank, a little German-Jewish girl who was killed during The Holocaust. Diary of a young girl, or Diary of Anne Frank, or formerly The Secret Annex, describes her life in hiding as well as those of her immediate family and family friends in a Secret Annex in Holland between 1942 and 1944 during the time Holland was occupied by the Germans in World War Two. The diary is an honest account of what goes on in a teenage girl’s mind. The last few pages though, the Afterword, was a little bit too much to take in within whatever amount of time it takes for one to read three pages of writing. It told of what happened to Anne after the Secret Annex was discovered and the occupants were exposed and she had to stop making entries into her diary. They were deported to a Nazi Concentration Camp and you would have to read the book to discover what happened during that time.
It feels sort of weird rating this book, so I won’t.
4.      The Fishermen
The Fishermen irreverently asks its readers, page after page after page after page: how much heartache can you take? How much heartache can you take? It is written by the vastly talented Chigozie Obioma, it is one of the few Nigerian fiction that I was able to read during the year. It was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2015. It is a story of four brothers growing up in Akure, Ondo State in the 90s: Ikenna, Boja, Obembe and Benjamin, who narrates the story of the fishermen. The Fishermen tells us how so ridiculously easily the strings that bond a group of people together can be loosened. A madman called Abulu prophesies that the oldest brother, Ikenna, would be killed by a fisherman and that prophesy from a madman was all that was needed to destroy a once tightly woven family. It is not just because this story is fascinating that makes it beautiful, it is the precision of the author, the deliberateness of every single word he uses. It is too easy to imagine that this was a memoir, but how can it be? Many times, while reading, I closed the book and promised myself that I had had enough of this shit, but the writing is too beautiful, the story is too real to just dismiss it like that. The Fishermen is a story that forces you to do things, very few books have that ability. It tells you, ‘this is crushing, but you must move to the next page, you must read the next chapter. You must see that Ikenna was killed, you must see that Boja killed himself, you must see that their mother went insane, that Obembe and Ben …’ I must stop, otherwise I would divulge everything.
It is a brilliant book.
4 of 5

5.      The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is written by John Boyne. It is set in Nazi Germany and Poland. It begins in Berlin with Bruno, a boy of ten, whose father is a Nazi German Soldier, finding out he and his family are moving from their home in Berlin and all his friends and going to live somewhere else; this occurs after a short man whom Bruno refers to as ‘The Fury’ comes to their house with his pretty wife to have dinner with his family. They move to this new place called ‘Out With’ which is a concentration camp in Poland. He finds the place immensely boring what with his lack of friends or acquaintances. In his boredom, he decides to do a bit of ‘exploration’ and he stumbles upon a boy in a striped pyjama, about his age, Schmuel. They become friends and the consequence of their friendship to both of them is not nice.
The story is very simple. It is perhaps the simplest book about Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler that I have read. And this simplicity is present from the start of the book to the end of it. and even in its simplicity, it is a very powerful story that literally takes you back to the 1940s, while both boys, Bruno and Schmuel, sit on different sides of the fence that seperates the concentration camp from Bruno’s house, you get this feeling that you are right there sitting with them.
3.8 of 5
6.      The Alchemist
The Alchemist is written by Paulo Coehlo
This story is about a shepherd boy from Andalusia who has recurring dreams of a treasure lying underneath the Egyptian Pyramids. He meets with an old king and he is offered some advice as well as a couple of magical stones. He embarks on his journey to find the treasure crossing the Mediterranean and trudging the Sahara desert. He meets swindlers, wars, helpers, friends and love. He learns alchemy along the way and is assured that when a person truly wants something, the universe conspires in his favour. The writing, maybe more than the story, is an absolute beauty. The writer weaves his story line around finding something he calls a Personal Legend (one’s purpose in life) dishing coats of advice and guidance in styles that make you marvel at words and how so easily they can be manipulated and made to act out all of one’s fantasies. However, I did not find it to be free flowing. I got caught reading the same paragraphs over and over and over again.    
3 of 5
7.      Bridge to Terabithia
I had wanted to read Bridge to Terabithia ever since I saw one of those Evangelical website review it poorly, saying it ‘apologetically portrays grief’ and words like ‘bitch’, ‘damn’ ‘cremation’ were used. I had not been able to lay my hands on it until I finally found it this year – it was a beautiful read, in all respects. It is written by Katherine Patterson. It is about two kids, Jess Aarons and Leslie Burke who become neighbours and then schoolmates and then friends, they create a magical kingdom which they call Terabithia. She is smart, creative and from a wealthy family; while he is artistic, mature and from a poorer family. It is one of the most frequently criticised and censored books. As a matter of fact, it is number eight on the American Library Association’s list of 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of the Decade 1990 – 2000, a list which one of my all-time favourite books, Looking for Alaska, which was reviewed last year, also falls in for the decade 2000 – 2010. It has been adapted into movies – twice.
Of the writing, I feel that Katherine Patterson did a beautiful job of making the book work as one that could be read by children and teenagers but also one that could be thoroughly enjoyed by adults. It was simple and witty and contained one of my characters of the year, Leslie Burke, who was, by equal measure, stunning in intelligence and wit. The ending was sad because it was and it is always difficult to come to terms with the loss of someone you have learned to love.
3.8 of 5
8.      The General in his Labyrinth
The General in his Labyrinth is a book about the great revolutionist and liberator of South America, Simon Bolivar. It is written by the phenomenal Gabriel Garcia Marquez, rest his soul. It was sort of a difficult book to read due to the fact that the novel was a labyrinth in its own right. Twisting and turning and snaking and meandering through time until time itself is confused. The story measures, with ruthless precision, the viciousness of politics and the concept of politicking. One does not need to be South American therefore to relate to the story. It talks about wars, triumph, defeat, love, celebrations, romance and suffering, very importantly, suffering. The General as Simon Bolivar was referred throughout the book, suffered a lot. Even in death his suffering continued. On his deathbed, he made one of the most remarkable last words in the history of last words, and then the way it was reproduced in Garcia Marquez’s book is nothing short of phenomenal:
‘The General paid no attention to the masterful reply, because he was shaken by the overwhelming revelation that the headlong race between his misfortunes and his dreams was at that moment reaching the finish line. The rest was darkness. "Damn it," he sighed. "How will I ever get out of this labyrinth!"’
The labyrinth the general was talking about has been said to be very many things by very many people. But for me (and Alaska Young from Looking for Alaska, I must say), the labyrinth is suffering. Like, Alaska said, ‘Bolivar was talking about the pain, not about the living or dying. How do you get out of this labyrinth of suffering?
Did you notice the exclamation mark at the end of Bolivar’s sentence? I did too.
3.5 of 5
9.      My Sister’s Keeper
In 2016 I read very many sad books. But none could compare in its utter heartlessness and irreverence for happiness to My Sister’s Keeper. It was, quite simply, crushing. It tells a story of a designer baby called Anna whose sole reason for existing is so she can be a donor for her sister Kate who has a rare form of Leukaemia. At thirteen, because thirteen year olds think of these things, and because it’s time to donate one of her kidneys to Kate, she decides to sue her parents to the court of law. She wants to be the owner of her own body, she wants to decide for herself if she intends to donate an organ to her sister, she wants to have a say. What I find most beautiful about the book is that it is told from the point of view of all the different characters: Brian (the father), Sara (the mother), Kate (the sick daughter), Ana (the designer baby), Jesse (the brother), Campbell (the lawyer) etc. The book asks us important questions: What does it mean to be a good parent? What does it mean to be a good father? What does it mean to be a good person? Like, every parent wants the best for their children, every parent knows that it is incorrect to bury a child but is it ethically and morally justifiable to sort of taper the life of one of your children in a bid to save the life of another one?
There are excerpt I like from Anna’s point of view:
You know how silence can push in at your eardrums in the dark, make you deaf? That’s what happens, so that I almost miss mother’s answer. “For God’s sake, Brian… whose side are you on?”
And my father: “Who said there were sides?”
But even I could answer that for him. There are always sides. There is always a winner, and a loser. For every person who gets, there’s someone who must give.
It also has one of the most profound quotes on marriage I have ever seen in my life:
The older couples, the ones sporting wedding bands that wink with their silverware, eat without the pepper of conversation. Is it because they are so comfortable, they already know what the other is thinking? Or is it because after a certain point there is simply nothing left to say?
Thinking about the book brings emotions.
It was a sad book. Brilliant, but sad.
3.7 of 5
10.  If I Stay.
If I Stay is written by Gayle Forman. It is about a seventeen year old, Mia, whose whole life changes after her family is involved in a ghastly car crash. I read a review from The Guardian which I found fascinating. I read this book because of that review.
‘Despite her solid relationship with Adam, Mia has choices to make and she chooses to apply for Julliard, one of the most prestigious music schools… even though it is on the other side of the country. But all it takes is one snowy morning, a family trip in the car, a lorry driver not looking the right way… And suddenly, Mia has only one choice left.’
Most of the book had Mia unconscious seeing herself and her weight on others from a perspective that was separate from herself. And so the most important theme was making a choice between Leaving, which was rational considering that her whole family was gone, and Staying, which was going to be respite for her friends and an enablement to proceed with her career in music. The book is about loss, about choices, about facing ones fears. The writing was somewhat uneven. There were lots and lots of flashbacks and it sort of disturbed the consistency and flow of the book. It was an okay read however.  I would definitely recommend it.
3 of 5
Character of 2016
Last year, my favourite character was Cash Daddy from Adaobi Tricia Nwabuani’s I Do Not Come To You By Chance. This year I finally, FINALLY read all seven books from the Harry Potter Series. They are beautiful, all seven of them, they are absolutely beautiful stories. My favourite character this year deserves a separate mention because of how captivating he is. His name is Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series. Even though he died at the end of Half Blood Prince, he is still one of the most influential and inspiring characters in all of fiction. From words to action Albus Dumbledore is definitely a literary personality I would give anything to spend thirty minutes of real life with.