In 2017, I set out to read 50 books. I am currently at 42. I hope to close at 45, which is not so shabby. I am counting down to my best books of 2017—books I read in 2017, because not all of them were published this year.
10. WHAT HAPPENED BY HILLARY CLINTON
In this raw memoir, Hillary Clinton discusses the most divisive election in modern U.S. history, approaching it with a brutal honesty not typical of politicians. Hillary is often known to be guarded, but this time, she let her guard down and spoke from her heart. This is a book worth reading—there are lessons in it for everyone but especially for women who want a career in public life. Tip: read it alongside Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.
9. BEHOLD THE DREAMERS BY IMBOLO MBUE
A Cameroonian couple in pursuit of the American dream. The story is laid out beautifully, the characters as well, and Imbolo’s use of imagery is fantastic. I typically roll my eyes at immigration stories written by Africans but I really loved this one. Warning: there is a lot of humor.
8. CITY OF MEMORIES BY RICHARD ALI
I bought this book on a whim; I was not familiar with both the writer and the book, but it turned out to be a good story. It is set in the city of Jos, in Northern Nigeria. It tugged at my heart: his characters are strong and recognizable. A readable book.
7. WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY BY LESLEY NNEKA ARIMAH
Many short story collections typically run along common themes, but Lesley delivered a collection of diverse stories, which all tie in beautifully. Lesley is an expert in character development—some are so vivid, you think someone in your life inspired them. “Wild” is my favorite story. I couldn’t stop laughing.
6. INDIGO BY MOLARA WOOD
This book was a pleasant surprise, as I have had it for two years but never came around to reading it. Molara Wood is a Story Teller. I really liked “Night Market,” and found the collection effortless despite having very strong themes. I finished this book in one sitting while waiting for a flight.
5. STAY WITH ME BY AYOBAMI ADEBAYO
Ayobami tells the story of a Nigerian family struggling with childlessness and all the issues that come with it. The characters are masterfully done, even the minor characters are well developed.
4. LONGTHROAT MEMOIRS BY YEMISI ARIBISALA
Guys, this is not a cook book. I repeat: this is not a cook book. It is a collection of layered, nuanced and interwoven conversations centered around Nigerian food. There is a sprinkling of recipes but the dominant theme is the character of Nigerian cuisine and its soul. It reads like a conversation with an eccentric aunt over a bottle of wine. I sampled the puff-puff recipe, by the way.
3. DEAR IJEAWELE, OR A FEMINIST MANIFESTO IN FIFTEEN SUGGESTIONS BY CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE
I kept screaming throughout this book that the lover had to check a few times if I was okay. I honestly wish I could hand this book to every Nigerian parent. Adichie doesn’t approach it from a place of superiority. She shares her insight and acknowledges that it may not work, but encourages her friend—and all of us—to try.
2. HOMEGOING BY YAA GYASI
This is the best book of fiction I have read in a very long time. It is like a short story collection. Each chapter flowed easily into the next, with such effortlessness that you do not realize you are reading many different stories. Stories from three hundred years ago, right down to our present day, woven around colonialism and America’s institutionalisation of racism.
1. THE POWER BY NAOMI ALDERMAN
This book is electrifying. Naomi Alderman creates a picture in which women suddenly have the power and are fighting patriarchy strongly. Eventually some of them become the very same thing they were fighting, and all of this is painted with such vivid imagery that I had to put the book down at some points to catch my breath. This is a provocative and important story.
About the Author: