17 Books to Devour

In no particular order, some books that have left me feeling inspired, hurt, moved, blessed to be able to read and left in me an insatiable thirst to keep devouring and consuming. Much gratitude to the authors who wove together such beautiful stories.

1. Dust, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
A bit of a difficult but worthwhile read. Set in Kenya – telling of the politics of greed, but also of love, kinship and the search for truth, no matter how painful it is…

2. A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest J. Gaines
A very painful but powerful read. Set in the US in the 60’s.

A black man in the South of the (not-so-united) States of America finds himself in the middle of a shootout in a store that leaves one white man (store owner) and two black men dead. His own defense describes him as a ‘hog’ to the jury who sentence him to death by execution. The story is of another black man, an ‘educated’ black man, a teacher – who is tasked with turning the convicted into a ‘man’.

A book about deeply rooted injustices, but also about seeking and reclaiming dignity, love, resistance and triumph.

Read here for excerpts of the book which stood out to me.

3. Homegoing
I’ve never read a book where each chapter (all 20 of them) introduces a new character and a new generation. Spanning a number of generations and traversing two continents, the author manages to tell an incredible and very personal tale of slavery and what is passed down from generation to generation – both figurative and literal.

4. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
My best friend and soul sister wouldn’t stop raving about this particular book. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it and confess it wasn’t an easy read but it still makes this list because it’s written in such a unique way and has an intriguing storyline.

5. Born a Crime, Trevor Noah

This was a truly beautiful, funny and poignant read. I read this on my phone through the kindle app and would read late into the night snuggled into bed – soliciting laughter at all hours and making family members wonder if I had gone loco.

Just as he is on stage, Trevor’s wit, street smarts, intellect and insight came out in his storytelling. You will have so much respect for him and his phenomenal momma after reading his story and his life journey. He’s talented on many fronts – my only complaint would be that it seems to target an American audience. Trevor, you know there are countless of us here on the continent who still consume your content voraciously. Don’t forget us. Otherwise, I’m already looking forward to re-reading it!

6. Blood Brothers

A fascinating back story to the friendship, brotherhood and fallout of two incredible men – Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali. It’s a story of conviction, camaraderie, black pride, love, alliances, discoveries, deception and pure history. It’s also a telling story of human beings turning on each other…Especially when blindly following a figure to the detriment of the cause. A must read.

7. Ghana Must Go, Taiye Selassie

Taiye keeps us engaged from the first page to the last. About love, family, shame and the lengths to which we’ll go to cover it, betrayal, abandonment and redemption.

8. Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri

A collection of short stories. Jhumpa has a way of making ordinary stories extraordinary. Each story is it’s own, taking you deeper into the craft of Lahiri’s mind and imagination.

9. The House Girl, Tara Conklin

A fascinating and intricately woven tale centred around two women separated by close to 200 years. One enslaved and the other, a corporate lawyer pursuing a reparations case. A story about the pursuit of freedom, truth, redemption, purpose, ancestry and a life worth pursuing.

Definitely worth a read and even a reread.

10. Letter to my Daughter, Maya Angelou

This was amongst the first books I picked up in a long while. I had almost forgotten how beautiful it is to read. To get lost in another’s world and to relate to a reality that is separate from ones own by decades, oceans, miles, circumstances. But to still be able to experience a multitude of emotions while at it, laughter and joy, anger and sadness, beauty and triumph.

11. Born on a Tuesday, Elnathan Jonathan

Elnathan Jonathan’s debut novel. Unputtdownable. Very relevant, raw and real.

12. I can’t make this up, Kevin Hart

I’ve always loved Kevin Hart but reading this book made me respect and appreciate him and his momma so much more. His drive, work ethic, hustle, persistence, wit and groundness deserve much respect. A good read – highly recommend.

13. The Fishermen, Chigozi Obioma

A heartbreaking story of what can unfold and break what seemed like unbreakable brotherhood bonds following a prophecy. Dark and raw – difficult but a worthwhile read. Amazing particularly considering its a debut novel.

14. We Need New Names, NoViolet Bulawayo

I loved the way NoViolet writes and undoubtedly thinks. A story of Zim told through the eyes of young kids and one girl in particular who ends up in the US after ‘change’ disappoints. A great read.

15. The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen

An intricately woven tale of history, (mis) representation, pride, nationalism, love, friendship and shifting allegiances in times of war. Brilliant story that transports the readers from Vietnam to the US and back.

16. Tomorrow I’ll be Twenty, Alain Mabanckou

I was curious to read this book considering Mabanckou was my former professor and had won numerous literary awards but I had yet to read any of his books. This book is a depiction of life, love and politics from the eyes of a young Congolese boy, Michel. A beautiful and easy read.

17. Animal Farm, George Orwell

It was only in December 2017 that I managed to read this classic that has been translated and taught and studied the world over. I found myself getting increasingly distraught at the events that unfolded – as well as some of the characters and their blind faith in the face of the rewriting of history and narrative. It’s so telling that decades since he wrote this book, it rings true in so many ways and is a warning for the pitfalls we must avoid as a people.
Even if your pick is not in this list, pick up a book people, and get lost. And get found.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ibukun
    Dec 31, 2017 @ 22:34:21

    Intrigued. I might read some of these in the coming year. Thanks for the recs.
    I’d heard of some before but a lot are new to me.And I hear you on rediscovering reading. Having a little that I must read to (almost) every day has forced me to get back more seriously into the world of books and just reading for fun.


    • Nebila Abdulmelik
      Jan 01, 2018 @ 07:59:20

      Definitely! Let’s exchange our favorite reads love. I remember you used to consume books like nobody’s business back in the day….so I know it’s a love that you can’t do away with although I know being a momma of two does mean you have less time to devour books 😊. Happy new year love 😘


  2. Edwinah oOrowe
    Jan 02, 2018 @ 11:55:44

    Awesome… was just thinking that i need to start reading african writers.. and you gave me a list…. thanks much much


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