Ghanaian author Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah is the featured author in our series on what African writers are reading. Sekyiamah is a feminist writer and blogger. She co-founded the blog “Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women” and has written articles featured in The Guardian and Open Democracy. Her new book, titled The Sex Lives of African Women, contains groundbreaking interviews about women’s sexuality and freedom on the continent. Sekyiamah tells us what she is currently reading but also shares her to-be-read list, in addition to recommending books she’s read in the past and really loved. If you’re interested in learning more about each book or would like to buy a book, there is a list below the essay with each book mentioned, the synopsis, and buy link.
Like a lot of writers, I was that child who was happiest reading. I remember my Mum saying to me, “don’t tell me when your eyes start to hurt you”, because after the lights were out, I would get out my book and start reading with the faint light that came through the window from the exterior bulb. Yet, at some point in time I found myself spending too much time on social media and not reading as much as I wanted to. So in 2016, I started setting myself modest reading goals. The initial goal was to read a book a month, and then I increased that target to 16 a year. I know that’s not a lot of books, but being able to make that target annually makes me happy.
Thanks to my friend Kobina Graham, and my own book The Sex Lives of African Women being available on audio, I have also discovered the joy of listening to books. I never thought audio reads would work for me, but they can really add something extra special to the reading experience. I love nothing more than to listen to a good book while on my morning walk. It’s such a meditative experience.
Here are some books that I have read and loved over the past few years.
For folks looking to read more African feminist perspectives on sex and sexuality, I strongly recommend A Quirky Quick Guide to Sex by Tiffany Mugo and Dr T: A Guide to Sexual Health and Pleasure by Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng. I recently bought both books for my 16 year old god daughter because I want her to grow up knowing more about sex than I did at her age. I’ll also recommend a book that folks might find hard to buy (I bought my copy from the author). Kongossas of Kibibi 1: The Secret Diary of a Trans Woman in Abidjan by Lady S. [See below for purchasing details]
If you’re in the mood for a coming of age story, you have to check out the following:
Zainab Takes New York and The Deep Blue Within, both by Ayesha Harruna Atta. I also strongly recommend The God Child by Nana Oforiata Ayim.
I’ve found myself becoming more and more interested in the lives of older women, and Yewande Omotoso’s The Woman Next Door is a book I truly enjoyed. I am also really looking forward to reading her new book An Unusual Grief, which I believe will be published later this year.
I really love memoirs and Chike Frankie Edozien’s Lives of Great Men is a fave.
I also love everything Maaza Mengiste has written. Both The Lion’s Gaze and The Shadow King are really astounding books. I love fiction that also teaches you the history of a place in the way that Mengiste’s work does.
Other books I have also really enjoyed include Butter, Honey, Pig, Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi, Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, Silence is my Mother’s Tongue by Sulaiman Addonai, and Washington Black by Esi Edugyan.
On my to-be-read list are the following:
An Ordinary Wonder by Buki Pappilon
Embracing my Shadow by Unoma Azuah
The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Dare
Feminist Parenting: Perspectives from Africa and Beyond edited by Rama Salla Dieng and Andrea O’Reilly (I cheekily contributed a chapter to this anthology before I became a parent.)
The Madhouse by T. J. Benson
Can we claim Marlon James? I’m claiming him because he’s Afro descendant. I love everything he’s written. I haven’t yet managed to read Black Leopard, Red Wolf even though I bought it a few years ago in Lagos. Since my daughter came into my life, it’s really hard for me to read physical books as I do most of my reading on my kindle in the dark after she is asleep. Maybe I’ll make this one of my next Audio reads.
Note: The book titled Kongossas of Kibibi 1: The Secret Diary of a Trans Woman in Abidjan is only available by contacting the author, Lady S., via WhatsApp +225 0749873344.