Thursday, 31 December 2015

Books of 2015

Looking for Alaska
I read this book first in 2013. No exaggeration, I have gone on to read it at least another 25 times. I decided to review it this year only because it made more sense to me this year. It was written by the phenomenal John Green. It is a good story and when I get good stories, I don’t care about the writing or the techniques or any of that. Looking for Alaska is about a boy, Miles ‘Pudge’ Halter who leaves his home in Florida and attends boarding school at Culver Creek, Alabama, ‘to seek a Great Perhaps.’ He meets his roommate The Colonel, a genius, playfully enthusiastic short man. The Colonel names Miles Pudge and introduces him to one of the most phenomenal characters I have ever read, Alaska Young. Alaska is a beautiful, brilliant, unstable girl and she was fascinating while she lasted. One half of the book is intentionally, I think, dedicated to making us fall in love with Alaska Young and the idea of Alaska and Pudge as a thing, and then shatteringly, the second half of the book is dedicated to forcing us to mourn with Pudge and The Colonel, to appreciate the immense propensity of loss and the drive that loss creates. I hope I have not given away too much. Buy and Read Looking for Alaska.
Yes. You are right. I reviewed Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie last year. But I read it again this year and I also read my review of it again and it seemed like I was incredibly unfair. Americanah is a brilliant book. It was fantastically written by one of the best in the game. The only part of it I did not really like was the end where Obinze went back to Ifemelu and she accepted him. Maybe we need more stories that have sad endings. I believe Americanah would have been better than it is if it did not end that way. I mean, Obinze was a married man already and Ifemelu had survived so long without him anyway. But generally, Americanah was a greatly written story of love and success. And I feel there is a lot for every reader to learn. Buy and Read Americanah.
The Martian
The Martian was written by Andy Weir. I read this book in a very busy December period and I managed to finish it in three days. It is fantastic. It is Science Fiction but it is Science Fiction that you can enjoy thoroughly even if you are not a Science Fiction person, it was recently adapted into a movie. It is about a NASA astronaut, Mark Watney, a hilarious botanist, who was left on Mars by his team when they assumed that he had died while they were evacuating the Ares III mission. In order to survive, Mark had to rely on his experiences in Chemistry, Botany, Engineering, everything.  I am not going to spoil it for you. I felt it was very brilliant of the author to speak in Chemistry and Physics and Biology yet make it easy for the non-physicist and non-chemist and non-biologist to understand and love it. The Martian was a great story and it was definitely among one of the most impressive novels I read this year. Buy and read TheMartian.
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives
Permit me to Laugh Out Loud! This book is hilarious. I had heard of how impressive Lola Shoneyin’s writing was but this was awesome on many levels. I decided not to expect too much when I started reading it because it did not seem like a book I would enjoy. I enjoyed every minute of it, every second. This is a classic don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover (or Its Title). The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives is about Bolanle who, despite being a graduate, opted to become the fourth wife of an illiterate Baba Segi. Obviously, she could not operate on the same wavelength as the other wives, their children and her husband. We learnt later on why she chose to marry the man and the secret that lurked in the man’s house. As the book unfolded in hilarity, it also unfolded in serious life lessons. I only felt that foul language like ‘fuck’ was not really necessary especially if we consider that it was mostly a family type book. It is easy to spoil this book for anyone who has not read it and so I will not say much. Buy and read The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives.
I Do Not Come To You By Chance
I Do Not Come to You By Chance was written by Adaobi Tricia Nwabuani. The book is about Kings, a brilliant Chemical Engineer who wanted to work with a petroleum company. He sent application letter after application letter, went for interviews but remained unlucky, like many ordinary Nigerians remain. When his father got sick, he had to become closer to his uncle, Cash Daddy. After his father died, Cash Daddy, who by the way is another amazing character I read this year, introduces Kings to Cyber Crime. I am saying too much. I felt the book was a good read. However, I thought it could have ended better. The same problem I had with Americanah. Books do not have to have happy endings. I felt that it would have made more sense if Kings was arrested because, even though we loved him, he was a criminal for 95% of the book. I loved Cash Daddy. Buy and read I Do NotCome to You By Chance

The Whispering Trees
This book was written by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim. It was dark in a bright way, The Whispering Trees. It is a book of short stories with each story being more interesting than the last. The ones I liked the most were The Garbage Man, about a young lady who stayed home alone most of the time and fell in love with The Garbage Man. She made him give up smoking. And I liked the way it ended and I feel we need more stories to end like this, ‘Amarya, are you alright?’ Tears were streaming down her eyes now and she tried to wipe them away. ‘Please, go,’ she said softly. ‘Don’t come back here anymore.’ I also liked The Whirlwind especially at the end when Audu said to his uncle ‘She should never wake up, Uncle. She is beautiful.’ He had killed her. LOL! Just fantastic! The Whispering Trees was also a great story. Buy and read The Whispering Trees.
Paper Towns
Paper Towns was written by John Green. As all John Green novels, including the one he wrote only 50% of, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which I am currently reading, it was beautiful in ways that was not pretentious and not arrogant. I love John Green. Paper Towns is about two characters who I think have the best names for characters in the whole history of literature, MARGO ROTH SPIEGELMAN and QUENTIN ‘Q’ JACOBSEN. Margo is a larger than life, weirdly intelligent young lady much like Alaska Young in Looking for Alaska but different. Margo, a month to graduation from high school, makes Q, who she doesn’t really speak with under normal circumstance; join her in a series of missions which culminate in breaking into Sea World. They are caught but Margo is able to wriggle them out of trouble. Anyway, the day after, Margo disappears much to the heartbreak of Q who had imagined a new found relationship with Margo Roth Spiegelman. The rest of the book is Q and his friends trying to figure out where she disappeared to and then going to find her. I enjoyed every minute of it. Buy and read PaperTowns.
Why We Struck
I decided to add this non-fiction book about the Nigerian Civil war because this year, I read more non-fiction than I did fiction and so it is only fair that I review at least one of those. Why We Struck is the story of Nigeria’s first military coup. It was written by Adewale Ademoyega. The coup took place on January 15 1966 and inadvertently led to the Civil War or Biafra war. The book was okay as an account of the Civil War and kind of an autobiography. It was vivid and deep enough. Although, in some other stories by some other people, none of whom were actually connected directly with the coup, the accounts were somewhat different, but generally, it is easier to believe this one because the author had direct involvement. I liked that the author never really strayed too far from the point. If you are looking for answers about the questions of Nigeria’s past, this is a fantastic book for you. Buy and Read Why We Struck.
And The Mountains Echoed
I have now read all three of Khaled Hosseini’s books and I can conclude that the man can weave a good yarn. His stories are mostly set in at least two continents, from his country of origin, Afghanistan, to America and back. And they are absolutely fantastic reads. In And The Mountains Echoed, there were several stories within a story. The stories were so real and so emotional. If you like happy endings and flowery life, it is best not to read any of Khaled Hosseini’s books and you better not read And The Mountains Echoed. The novel begins at a place called Saboor where a farmer has to sell his little daughter to a wealthy childless couple in Kabul. This girl had a brother, Abdullah, who she calls ‘Abollah’ and it just shatters the poor boy’s heart. I can’t say more, lest I spoil it. Just know that except for the next book, The Book Thief and maybe one or two others, I have never read a more absolutely heart wrenching book in my life. Here’s the poem that begins the book:
Out beyond ideas
of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.- Jelaluddin Rumi.                      

The Book Thief 
The Book Thief was written by Markus Zusak. It is about Leisel Meminger, a nine year old and also about death, who narrates the story. Yes, the story was narrated by death himself itself. Leisel lost her brother tragically and arrives at her foster parents’ home, she was there mostly around the Nazi Germany era. Also, she is a book thief. She likes the idea of books but at first she could hardly read. Her foster father, Hans Hubermann, teaches her to read in time. While political tension intensifies, her family, very good people, hides a man called Max who is Jew in their basement. So the family is in danger most of that time. A lot of stories are told by death about Leisel and even death himself itself likes her a lot. At the end, tragedy happens. No spoilers. I loved The Book Thief because it was very different from your average book and also a lot better than your average book. Also, it is a very sad story. Buy andread The Book Thief.

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