Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Books Of 2014

I wish for every reader of this blog a prosperous 2015, may all your wishes become realities, and may you be careful what you wish for. Amen!
So, this time last year, I briefly reviewed a few books that I had read during that year. I will do the same this year, today. I read a lot of books this year, most of them were fiction a few were not. Unlike last year, I think this year, I read more foreign books than Nigerian ones. For the purpose of this, I would review just the ones that were fiction. 
The Fault in Our Stars
I will say this every time I get the chance, every single time I get the chance: Until another book comes along and takes its place, The Fault in Our Stars is THE BEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ. It was written by John Green, a man who has managed to steal my heart and become my favourite author in the space of less than 365 days – believe me; it is HARD to steal my heart, harder to do it in less than one year.
The story is about a couple of teenagers – Hazel-Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters – who both had cancer and were in love with each other. They met at a cancer support group inside ‘The Literal Heart of Jesus’ that was where they became friends, fell in love. The author built this incredible, realistic world that had this amazing ability to be both dark with the stupidity that illness is and bright with the comedy that two extra-ordinarily intelligent lovebirds were. The book, I swear, will make you laugh now and cry in two minutes – no kidding, no hype. Be prepared to laugh, to cry, to cry when you laugh and vice versa. What makes this book more amazing is that there was also a book inside it, like, most of the story was based towards another fictional story within the book titled An Imperial Affliction. Hazel was reading this book for most of the book because she loved how real it was, how true it was. Eventually she… I’m not doing this. BuyThe Fault in Our Stars and read it. You will be absolutely glad you did. Thank you, John Green, Thank you.

Americanah was written by one of my favourite Nigerian writers, interestingly, she has also become one of my favourite Nigerian celebrities, Chimamanda Adichie. Should writers be celebrities? Not my circus, not my monkeys. Americanah is not the best Chimamanda Adichie book I have read, in fact, I have read five thousand (5,000) word stories by Adichie that could give Americanah a run for its money. Wait. In fact, I have read Adichie articles that could give Americanah a run for its money. I’m just saying it how I see it, no beef. As far as I am concerned, the book did not live up to its hype. After she wrote ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ – a fantastic book that I reviewed last year – my thoughts were that her next book would be fire. Americanah was not fire; Americanah was an extinguisher, unfortunately.
It was a story of a Nigerian girl, Ifemelu, who fell in love with a Nigerian boy, Obinze, while they were in secondary school. Then, it was the story of a girl who went to America from Nigeria. Then a story of a girl who after suffering for a while and even giving a white man a hand job one time, became this successful blogger who had on an afro and blogged about race and hair. Then it was the story of a girl who came to Nigeria after years in America and got a job with a popular magazine or something. Finally, it was a story of Obinze cheating on his wife with Ifemelu. Buy and read Americanah.

            To Kill A Mockingbird
I know. How the hell have I not read this utterly prolific book before 2014? I have not the slightest clue myself, to be honest. To Kill a Mockingbird was written by Lee Harper and till today (She’s about eighty five [85] now), she has not written any other book. I think that says everything to say about this book. I was having a discussion with a friend some time ago on Whatsapp; I told her how some books are so unprecedented that the author just has to rest his/her pen after writing them because there is nothing further to say, there’s nothing further to write. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those kinds of books.
It is the story of a man called Atticus Finch, a model of a man, a man who we all ought to want to be like. There’s nobody I would rather be in the world than Atticus. The book challenges our morals. It challenges our standards for defining right, for defining wrong. It asks questions, important, salient questions and that is the singular assignment for fiction: ask the questions that everyone else is either too busy or too freaking afraid to ask. Take a look at the titular quote and think deeply about it: ‘Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.Buy and read To Kill a Mockingbird; because Mockingbirds don’t do one thing for us but sing their hearts out.
           The Road
The end of the world as we know it is bound to make for a fascinating story and an even more fascinating read, that’s what Cormac McCarthy got right in his wonderful book, The Road. He is of course one of the greatest writers ever to put pen to paper. Cormac McCarthy doesn’t just write on paper, he inscribes his crazy thoughts in people’s minds, and that is something. Once, he said that death is the major issue in the world and writers who do not address death are unserious writers. Lol! Whatever.
The Road is a story set after Armageddon and the world had become the gray of used charcoal, and mostly dead. The best thing about the book is that almost 75% of it had just the two characters: the father and his son. The first three sentences read: ‘When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.’ and ‘Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than what had gone before.’ and ‘Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world.’ His sentences were mostly short. His sentences are mostly short. The Road is a fascinating read, I swear, you would not want it to end, you would also not want to be alive when the world would end because of the way Cormac McCarthy paints this utterly colourless picture of life at the end: the only colours outside dreams are gray and blood. Buy and read The Road.
     The Perks of Being A Wallflower

I read this book last year but I read it again this year, four times. It’s small enough. It is one of the most personal books you would ever read. It was written by Stephen Chbosky, who, as far as I know has not written any other book after. Is it one of those books? Well, maybe. I read that he took five years to develop and publish the book creating the characters from his own memory; which is kind of interesting.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an epistolary novel about an introspective, shy, intelligent boy, he calls himself Charlie. He writes a series of letters to a boy who we do not know, who he refers to as ‘Dear Friend’. The first letter begins like this: ‘I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at the party even though you could have.’ There is this part on the first page that says: ‘I just need to know that someone out there listens and understands and doesn’t try to sleep with people even if they could have. I need to know that these people exist.’ These excerpts should tell you a lot about the book and its main character, Charlie and him being a Wallflower and it should also help you understand why I said it is one of the most personal book you would ever read. Buy and read ThePerks of Being a Wallflower.
Perhaps from next year I would increase the books I review at the end of the year to ten.

Till next time,, Keep dreaming!!

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