Posts tagged books

BOOK REVIEW || Under The Udala Tree

I read this book about 11 months ago and I didn’t, couldn’t write a review or bookmark any pages. I thought since I didn’t support the message the book was advocating I didn’t even have to review it. However, it unsettles me to skip out on this one, so of the many I ignore for review, this one forges ahead.

(P.s: I finally wrote this review like 5 months ago and still didn’t publish it because I was busy)

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Ijeoma was just eleven years when the war began. The life she’d known had been one of middle class comfort as an only-child in her family, where she was fed abundantly and told it would help stimulate her brain.
Prior to the war:

“as for us, we moved about in that unhurried way of the butterflies as if the breeze was sweet, as if the sun on our skin was a caress. As if slow paces allowed for the savouring of both. This was the way thing were before the war: our lives, tamely moving forward”

The book is a coming of age story which dwells on the Biafran war, and on the war against homosexuals.

“There is no way to tell the story of what happened with Amina without first telling the story of mama’s sending me off. Likewise, there is no way to tell the story of mama sending me off without also telling of papa’s refusal to go to the bunker. Without his refusal, the sending away might never have occurred, and if the sending away had not occurred, then I might never have met Amina
If I had not met Amina, who knows, there might be no story at all to tell”

The book consists of three parts. The story goes back and forth in the first part and reveals how Ijeoma’s father refuses to run into the bunker during one of the air raids; he embraces despair about the losing war, and is bombed in his own house by the fighter planes.
The book explores grief and loss consequent to this. Mama who fails miserably in coming out of her grief sends her daughter to live with a school teacher.

It is in being sent away to live with the grammar school teacher and his wife, that Ijeoma faces the question of her sexual identity.
After being caught, Ijeoma would go through tumultuous times in her mind seeking for the truth, and for peace.
She would have compulsory lessons with mama at the kitchen table every evening, in order to cleanse her mind with the word of God.

This book tries to raise questions and doubts in a readers mind. It wants you to question the religious beliefs you may have already held. The book does this by employing a strategy of shifting grounds on morality – what exactly is an abomination? Was Adam’s meeting with Eve only symbolic of relationship between different people, thereby having no relevance to their sexes?

It brings up forbidden love, and as with love which is restricted, the author tries to win the reader’s sympathy. Its moving when the lesbians hide themselves in a bunker from a violent mob – a bunker similar, and even worse than those used during the Biafran war. Again – a literary tactic to depict a greater war being waged on homosexuals.

The book leads you to watch Ijeoma try to repent before God but being unable to, “not being heard by God”.

Ijeoma’s thoughts often center on the context of Bible passages – discrediting the inference Christians hold from those same passages.

Chinelo Okparanta deliberately explores the religious background of Nigerians by making her central characters well abreast of scriptures. There’s nothing less than twenty passages on homosexuality in this book, some analyzed in depth (though erroneously). It’s a strategy that’s supposed to take the fight out of the opponent by seizing their very war instrument.

This book goes far to come close. Here’s why: It presents gay-torching Christians (arsonists), hateful Christians who will tear off the clothes on the neck of lesbians who are found out and kill them.

It presents a frenzied mother who casts demons out of her daughter for being a lesbian. Fast forward fourteen years and a failed heterosexual marriage, it presents the same spiritual mother saying:

“God who created you, must have known what he did. Enough is enough

Overall this book works to evoke empathy especially as its written in 1st person P.O.V. It also drops proverbs like this one:

“if you set off on a witch hunt, you will find a witch. When you find her, she will be dressed like any other person. But to you, her skin will glow in stripes of white and black. You will see her broom and you will hear her witch cry and you will feel the effects of her spells on you.
No matter how unlike a witch she is, there she will be, a witch before your eyes”

An unobservant Christian will probably begin to give room to thoughts like: “But its their human right to decide their own sexuality after all, why bother them?”
The book is a patient and descriptive read for the first two parts, the rest hurries through a bit. In the Epilogue, Ndidi, Ijeoma’s lover says her prophecy concerning Nigeria being a place where love is allowed between all sexes and tribes.
This book is written as a response to the laws passed by President Jonathan in 2014 which criminalized same-sex relationship.

In conclusion, for literature? it does well. For my sentiments and beliefs? I fault it every line of the way. I say it does well for literature because if it were to be another cause for which I stand, I’d have thought she made her case sufficiently well for a novel. But this – the issue of homosexuality, I do not stand for it both logically and spiritually. It is fundamentally wrong.

Books and Truth,

Debby

BOOK REVIEW || Crazy Rich Asians

Heyyy guys. Hello. Today I’m reviewing a book long over due. I have so many books left unreviewed, please help me. Enjoy.


This is how it went: I loved the book. Then I didn’t love it anymore. I even started to hate it. And now, reading it again after many months, I love the book again.

I love the book outside of the general buzz of it and outside of my dislike for its irrelevant series continuation (my opinion). The book did just well with only the first book but then Kevin Kwan went ahead to stretch it into a trilogy (China Rich Girlfriend & Rich People’s Problems). The second was averagely okay for me because I was already enjoying the Asian escapism I got from the first book. The third would’ve just bored me so I skipped it altogether.

Not withstanding, I would always recommend it for a pleasurable holiday read.
My review in a sentence: CRAZY RCH ASIANS DEALS WITH ASIANS WHO ARE RICH AND CRAZY.
My review in full:
Rachel Chu(A Prof of economic development) meets Nicholas Young(Prof of history and law) and they fall in love in New York. But Nicholas’ family aren’t in New York, they’re in Asia(Singapore) where it gets crazy.

Its two years into their relationship and Nick coaxes Rachel to travel home with him for his best friend’s wedding and there she meets the craze. The book takes us on a ride along with Rachel through Nick’s stupendously rich and quiet elitist family. The wealth and snobbery of the Singaporeans gets Rachel Chu’s head spinning. Would she stand the anger and jealousy thrown at her from all around or will she balk?

The Singapore where they live, is akin to a big village where everyone is in everyone’s business. Take Eleanor for instance:

“To Eleanor, every single person occupied a specific space in the elaborately constructed social universe in her mind. Like most of the women in her world, Eleanor could meet another Asian anywhere in the world- say, over dim sum at royal chia in London, or shopping over in the lingerie department of David Jones in Sydney – and within thirty seconds of learning their name and where they lived, she would implement her social algorithm and calculate precisely where they stood in constellation based on who their family was, who else they were related to, what their approximate net worth might be, how the fortune was derived, and what family scandals might have occurred within the past fifty years.”

The gossip in this book is lit – everyone has (interesting, scandalous) background story you’ll have to know of.
The book presents Singaporeans who can figuratively die over food; eating five times a day and arguing about the best food spots. We’re introduced to other characters like Astrid,Charlie Wu, Peik Lin etc.

At a point you just might get tired of the wealth description. There are articles in a house (ceramics) worth thirty million dollars, every jewelry is scrutinized to the last detail, the clothes they put on are from the next season.

“Forbes only reports on the assets they can verify, and these rich Asians are so secretive about their holdings. The richest families are always richer by billions than what Forbes estimates”

I think for those who are unaware, you also get to learn secrets like this:

“let me share a secret with you, Nick. As much as a girl might protest, you can never go wrong buying her a designer dress or a killer pair of shoes”

And simple songs like this:

“it only takes a spark,
To get the fire going.
And soon all those around,
Can warm up in its glowing.
That’s how it is with God’s love,
Once you’ve experienced it.
You want to sing,
Its like fresh spring,
You want to pass it on”

Likes
I must tell you the truth – dialogue in this book is fun!

I like the fact that the book also picks up quickly.

Dislike
The characters come off as so many at the beginning, and they’re unfamiliar Chinese names so it gets difficult to hold on sometimes. You’ll however get the hang of it later.

This book is in essence – Rich entitled delusional Chinese families 101; which in spite of its light humour strokes subjects such as family bond, identity, self-worth and belonging. It is cool for what its worth and helps transport you to Asia. I generously rate it a 4 stars in its own right.

P.S: I’ve seen the movie adaptation and I think its wack.

Have you read this book? Have you seen the movie? Are you interested in reading it? If you’ve read it, are you like everyone else who likes Astrid?

Love and books,
Debby.

Blow your own mind

Heyyy guys. How are you doing? That you’re here reading again shows you’re taking at least one right step. Welcome back💙. Reading is always the way to go. To more books in 2019🍻.
Early last year, I wrote a post on books: 2018 in books; it was to give you tips for reading better in 2018. Towards the close of last year, I thought to myself: Debby, you’re no longer giving out tips on reading because just how many books are you yourself reading?! (The impostor syndrome post guys). I know people that read double what I read, so what? I have a lesson to share. In that eureka, here I am writing again on the importance of reading (I just can’t help it. It’s from my heart).
I have a whole lot ahead of me in the future, but where I am now, I am grateful for it. To be frank with you, a bulk of it came through reading or other forms of learning. I see people’s reaction in certain instances and I see mine(inserts grave modesty), I ask myself what the distinguishing factor is and I know its wisdom.
I remember seeing a tweet once where someone asked people to comment on the things they were most happy about themselves. One blogger wrote “I’m glad that I’m aware”. Just like that. Aware. Not aware of abc or xyz. Aware. I think that is beautiful. I never forgot since then and I hope to always be aware. Plain awareness is on a whole deeper level. It is a conscious living birthed through a constant desire to learn.
That’s what this post is about- learning by all means.
My guess is I could’ve read an additional twelve books to the number I read last year if I had gathered the time I spent listening to podcasts, audio bible, audio books, Christian messages ( videos included) and turned them on to books. I could’ve. I’m glad I didn’t though. Why? It isn’t about the number of books you cover, it is about the knowledge, and if you can glean it through other sources, by all means go ahead. I had an explosion both reading and listening. Go out on a limb to learn and not just to get to the last page of a book.
The aim Is knowledge, guys. Knowledge. When you know, you are empowered anywhere you go. For Christians, it is the Holy Spirit who breathes on the knowledge(resources) you already have and turns it to wisdom. That’s the secret. Have you read the exchange of the debtor woman in 2 Kings 4: 1 – 7? Vs2:

Elisha said to her, What shall I do for you? Tell me, what have you [of sale value] in the house? She said, Your handmaid has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.

The little jar of oil which she regarded for nothing was the catalyst for her miracle of abundance. You must always have something that can be leveraged upon. So guys, challenge yourselves. Know some more this year, do better in learning by listening and reading. Ask questions, observe. You’ll be richer for it. Awareness will always make the difference.
From the depth of my heart, this is my first message to you in 2019. Read. Listen. Learn. Stay aware. Blow your own mind.
As always,
Love and light.

Finding your Happy place

and staying there…
The confusion that swarms my heart when I read a brilliant blog or listen to good spoken word poetry is almost on the same level as the joy I get.
Confusion because I wonder if I’m really going to go all out into media, art, and literature. My brain rations that a bit of writing and plenty of law. But that’s my brain. And that’s not today’s conversation.
Today’s conversation? That joy and not the confusion. That giddy joy I felt for a month after listening to Emi Mahmud recite three spoken word pieces some years ago, that joy I felt when I completed Ghana must go,the joy of seeing new travel documentaries, that joy I remember when I read CNA’s new short story at the time, or when last year Francine Rivers announced she’ll be releasing a new book March 2018(p.s: the last I asked the book amounted to N7,000. oh well), – Many causes of joy.
How do I stay in that joy?
How do I go about ensuring that life and responsibilities do not keep me away from reading blogs like the one I just read before writing this?
I started to follow Blessing Omakwu on IG some months back. I love her mother’s messages. Seeing she was the daughter, I simply followed. I enjoyed her insightful captions and discussions on social matters on Instagram. In her bio, I saw she had a blog but I never clicked through until today. At the time of typing this post, I have read only two and a half posts on the blog. The smile that flitted my face as my phone’s battery died on me, has led me to type this post.
That smile.
How do you find your happy place and stay there?
There is something God designed you to just like.
Hiii guys. I wrote the above over a month ago. This afternoon*, I wasn’t having a chilled time. I woke up with a cold and I drank a cup of ginger tea to ease the sore throat I felt building up. I spent quite a while doing my morning devotion. I hurriedly cooked white rice which I ate with chicken before going for class (10am). Well, I was late to class, blame it on the chicken.
Mid-way the class, my friend sent me a note discreetly. It read:
she said there will be a test after this class”
I replied: “on this topic?”
I was going to do okay with any other topic because I’d brushed up. But today’s class? Up until that moment I was just going through the motions of writing the note, and not really enjoying the class, because, sore throat + late coming.
yes” my friend nodded in reply. Tell me something I don’t know.
I began to pay keen attention to all the lecturer said. Said test didn’t later hold but she gave those of us in class three marks for attendance. Woo-hoo!
Before the next lecturer came in, I got an email from Scribd telling me my subscription issues had been sorted out. I wanted to listen to an audiobook but I just found it hard to flow with all three that I tried. Perhaps it was the noise in the classroom or the fact that audiobook I suspect, tends to demand all your attention in a pretty annoying manner. Isn’t it supposed to somewhat do the opposite?
I discussed Investment banking with my friend Taiwo for as long as she needed in order to be satisfied (heyy Taiwo!) .
When I got back to my hostel eventually, it was hot and I was nursing a headache. I took a pain-reliever. I previewed a few movies while thinking that I really should get to work. I didn’t later see any of them. I sent some messages that needed sending. Got ready to tie up my preparation note for my hostel’s fellowship meeting I was to coordinate in the evening. Just before doing that, I got another e-mail.
It was a newsletter from Blazers and Baby – A blog that teaches women how to maintain good work-life balance. So I read the newsletter she sent today and opened the links she referred to.
And after the first four or so lines in the newsletter, I smiled again. Same as the Blessing Omakwu’s blog smile. Then I eventually decided to put up this post on ‘Happy Place’.
Also, the Lord instructed the sun to go easy on me. I get a little cranky and uncomfortable when it’s hot. So it all went well.
Context of ‘Happy place’ in this blog post: Something which stirs your wonder, makes you experience child-like joy, especially in the middle of an impossible day or week. Something that just resonates with you.
I think you can find that thing and do a little more of it. We all love a happier version of you.
For me, outside of the pressure, I really like blogging. Inside the pressure? taah! (The other things I love doing will be in another blog post someday)
All I know is the more work you do, the more you must find time for what takes you to your happy place.
So tell me, what is one thing you enjoy doing?
P.s: if you ever feel guilty based on getting pleasure from your happy place, read this post of mine.
*This was on Thursday.

Love and happy places,
Debby.

The danger of the single story perspective of your life

The single story.
It was the holiday season. The sun had set and evening calm descended upon the neighbourhood. The campus boys in the compound behind weren’t playing obnoxiously loud music. There hadn’t been any football matches during the day either; football matches that often sent their ball flying into our compound which, depending on the mood of our dogs, were licked, deflated or ignored.
My mum and elder sister were the only ones in the house with me. We were at the dinning table, probably one of those days when mum had just gotten back and we were gisting while she ate her dinner. It was a slow evening so I hadn’t told Emil to switch on the generator yet.
The soft glow from the solar-powered lamp illuminated the white walls.
The subject of our conversation must’ve flowed around perspectives for I ran upstairs to fetch my mini-laptop.
I remember setting it down on the table and clicking on Chimamanda’s Ted talk – “The danger of the single story.” – for both of them to watch.
I remember the pride that soared in my heart as Chimamanda’s steady and knowing voice filled the silence in the house.
Chimamanda’s talk on the single story is acclaimed one of the most-widely watched ted talks on youtube with 3.7 million views.
What was she saying in that talk?
How do I summarise that brilliance into a few lines here? I’d rather quote excerpts and urge you to watch the video here:

“I come from a conventional middle-class Nigerian family, and so we had, as was the norm, live-in domestic help who would often come from nearby rural villages. So the year I turned eight, we got a new houseboy. His name was Fide. The only thing my mother told us about him was that his family was very poor. And when I didn’t finish my dinner, my mother would say, finish your food, don’t you know people like Fide’s family have nothing? So I felt enormous pity for Fide’s family.
But one Saturday, we went to his village to visit, and his mother showed us a beautifully patterned basket, made of dyed raffia, that his brother had made. I was startled. All I had heard about them was how poor they were, so that it had become impossible for me to see them as anything else but poor. Their poverty was my single story of them.”

She also tells of her previous single story opinion of Mexicans.
Also, her roommates disposition to her when she was 19 and new in the U.S.

If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about Africa were from popular images, then I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals and incomprehensible people fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves, and waiting to be saved by a kind, white foreigner. I would see Africans in the same way that I as a child had seen Fide’s family

…all of these stories make me who I am but to insist on only these negative stories is to flatten my experience and overlook the many other stories that form me. The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but they are incomplete, they make one story become the only story”

Why am I bringing this up?
It’s easy for anyone on my campus fellowship who knows me as a spirit-filled sister to think all that there is to me is something fellowship-related once I’m through with classes. It’s easy for them to think I have no opinion on politics or assume I don’t read novels. assumptions.
It’s easy for someone to view the president of my fellowship as spiritkoko and not know that he likes football, a whole lot at that, or that the P.R.O of the fellowship has a sister who models in the U.S. I’m just painting a picture. We have lives, full lives. Those lives are often viewed through the lenses of sister and brother sososo, that’s okay once your lenses admit that generally, everyone is an human being and Jesus is happy about that.
Not the single story of ”I only see X in fellowship, and X is a student, therefore brother X is made up of classes and fellowship time”.
Single story. The danger of this single story is that brother X starts to live an insecure and people-conscious life.

“…The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but they are incomplete, they make one story become the only story”

Essentially, you must know everyone is a person and persons are subject to idiosyncrasies and a full world of ideas and passions. That your prayer secretary may be nursing the ambition to be the next governor of Oyo state(and it might not make him any less spiritual than if he’d been hoping to be the next missionary). Everyone is a person and Jesus loves them like that, Jesus planted a huge number of those passions in their hearts and Jesus is happy to see them bloom. Jesus doesn’t think they should only pray in fellowship. Jesus supports your vice-president going to the gym.
I believe when you accept it about yourself, you’re able to accept it about others too. Then you’ll stop feeling quite ashamed when someone you’ve mentored spiritually discovers you do something other than study and pray. I was self-conscious for a while until God helped me out of it.
Or worse still, you’ll stop feeling ashamed when someone knows a member of your family isn’t born again. I mean, what? Shame?
Dear friend, live, breathe, bloom, blossom. You’re more than one perspective. The single story is just that, – single.
Tell your own story. Be your own person. Own your story.

so that is how to create a single story, show a people as one thing, as only one thing over and over again, and that is what they become”.

What do you think? Care to share?

Freedom and light,
Debby

Re: 2018 in Books.

I thought it only relevant to remind us of this post from the beggining of the year. how far with our goals?not too late to make determined effort for the second half of the year, yes?
Happy new month. How was January? This post has to with the new year 2018, I know this isn’t January anymore but I think February works just fine.
Now, I want you to note this excerpt, I’ll explain it at the end, so read through:

The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the affects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.

When this blog post idea came to me, I discarded it. I know books lovers; dedicated bibliophiles who are better suited to write posts like this. Sometimes, I don’t even read.
In a moment of eureka though, I decided to go ahead with writing this because some of my blog readers do not know these bibliophiles that I know but they do know me and what I have to write is valid.

This purpose of this post isn’t to tell you how many books you should aim to read this year, I didn’t even keep tabs on my 2017 books. I sometimes wish I did. This brings me to the first thing I think you should note:

  • Keep tabs on the books you read. You should probably write them down in a certain notebook. I know someone who makes a thread out of it on her Twitter account and pins it. Doing this will help you with a mental review when you want to recall all you’ve learnt through books at the close of the year.
  • Aim at new genres. Its good you read the kind of books you read. Its true you’re faster when you’re reading them. However, reading other genres has the effect of broadening your world view and will even help you form a solid opinion on why you still dislike that genre or why you now favour it.

  • This is not a competition. Don’t stress yourself. The aim of reading is to be a better person. Knowledge is power. Some aim at a chapter a day, some twenty minutes a day. If you choose to publish the number of books you’ve read, good for you. If you choose not to, good for you. Just don’t fuss about the number. Savour each book. Reading hurriedly just to get a medal among your friends takes too much energy. It even shows the books you’re reading are yet to make you rational in that regard.
  • Review/ Hold a book discussion. This is to be done after each book. You can have a literary journal for this purpose. After each book, write down what you think, what idea you disagree with, if you will love to read other books by that author. The alternative thing is to discuss the book with someone who has read it too. It helps you have coherent thoughts about the book, to maximize it.
  • Buy and read. What you invest in, you treasure. The reason you’re still having oil drip on other people’s books is that you’ve not spent well enough on your own books. Also, Read. don’t boast of the number of books you have if you won’t open them. That’s not to say you can’t buy books in advance. By all means, please do. Just make sure you’re making progress.

  • Last of all, for this purpose, the internet is going to have to be your enemy. Seriously. Social media auto-check gives way for a page or two of a book. It’ll help if you always have a small book in your bag to read while waiting at any point. Cheat on your phone; read a book.

    I really do hope that at the end of this year, rather than having more whatsapp chat partners, you would’ve learnt new words from books at the very least. 😊

    Yes, the attention span issue. This is the widely held belief like I stated above:

    The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is nine seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the affects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.

    That’s why you have to be intentional about the fact that you want to read a book and complete it (Completing it. Very essential. 😁). There is a divergent view to this attention span theory on BBC.com. read up here if you’re interested in truly working on this issue. Happy New month to you!
    Books, knowledge, power,
    Debby.
    What’s your philosophy on reading? Do you write down the number of books you read? Ever held a book discussion? What are your 2018 book goals?

    Privileged generation

    Hiii guys. I penned this down on 26th of March 2018.
    18:03.
    I hope you learn a thing or two.


    Those you flock around determine who you will turn out to be in a few years.
    First point I want to discuss is that we’re a privileged generation. Ife Grace-Dada wrote something once and I agree with her(check out her blog and fb page, she’s a committed Christian writer). Paraphrase: Ask most young christians and you would see that their best ministers are mostly those whose churches they’ve never stepped foot into.
    Following this premise, it applies to most areas of life, that the people who inspire you may be those you’ve never had to meet in person yet in a certain aspect you consider them lit!
    Some parents and grand-parents may never understand this. 😊 and some do.
    Sometimes you follow such people on social media and imitate them as they imitate Christ, or learn a thing or two about decent human behaviour.
    Personally, I have someone who inspires me with her simplicity, decent fashion, and her knowledge of God’s word.
    There’s someone else whose confidence and openness in sharing her love for God, inspires me.
    I think it helps when you don’t just wildly envision who you want to be in a few years time, but when you consciously take steps that propel you in that direction. You surround yourselves with people of that sort. Association works.
    Before long, even if you didn’t grow up in a home that projected that virtue, you’re conscious that your dressing should be neat, smart and project Christ; not done haphazardly. You become conscious of other people’s feelings, you empathise. You learn some biblical truth you previously didn’t know.
    What am I really advocating for with this post?
    Reach beyond your immediate world. Don’t just chat away your internet time; you can know more about gardening through your instagram friend living someplace other than where you are, you can understand the arguments for home-schooling through twitter, you can access in-depth bible exposition through facebook, or you can learn about the precision and neatness of the Swiss through reading. You can be an all-rounder.
    Janice James said:

    ‘I’ve travelled the world twice over,
    Met the famous saints and sinners,
    Poets and artists, king and queens,
    Old stars and hopeful beginners,
    I’ve been where no-one’s been before, learned secrets from writers and cooks
    All with one library ticket
    To the wonderful world of books”

    You have no excuse for not knowing beyond what’s in your immediate surroundings. So many instruments at your disposal.
    Remember: privileged generation.
    p.s: I hope no one is saying why should I bother knowing about home-schooling and gardening? Okay o. Okay.

    BOOK REVIEW– The remains of the day.

    Hello-o.
    I’ve had quite some people just glance through the blog and later ask me about reviews. Here is the link to all book reviews on the blog. Read and share. 💕💕
    Title: The remains of the day.
    Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
    Pages: 168(e-book)
    First Publisher/publication date: Faber and Faber limited London/ 1989
    Blurb
    In the summer of 1956, an ageing butler has embarked on a six-day motoring trip through the West Country. But his holiday is disturbed by the memories of his past service to late lord Darlington, and most of all by the painful recollections of his friendship with the housekeeper, Miss Kenton. For the first time in his life, Stevens is forced to wonder if all his actions were for the best after all. A sad and humorous love story, and a witty meditation on the democratic responsibilities of the ordinary man.
    Review
    Do you even know why I wanted to read this book? Kazuo Ishiguro won the 2017 Nobel prize for literature and that was the first time I was hearing of his name. He however appeared popular with other readers, I needed to get to the bottom of the matter. I developed the desire to read one of his books. And so when I got this one, you know it, it was a dream come true.
    The remains of the day is a telling of a butler’s perspective. Yes, butler as in 1937, big fancy houses in England.
    The main character, Stevens, is in his later years having worked all his life trying to be a great butler and learning valuable life lessons in the process.
    His character flaw in spite of his many virtues is revealed in his inability to admit his feelings, even to himself.
    We also given some great insight into lord Darlington’s life and the events rounding up the Second World War; And the delightful miss Kenton.
    What I admire in Stevens is, he tries to adapt as the need arises along the line, in his professional tasks; just as he did on the issue of learning how to banter with his new American boss, Mr Farraday.
    I suspect one reason why I favour this book is because it preaches, on a broad platform, good character. I mean can you fully be English and live in 1934, without having learnt the finesse of being a lady or a gentleman?
    There’s core focus on humility. There’s also highlighting the beauty of integrity in each person’s work and how it upholds the system in the long run. I think this is a good read when you want something quite light yet not searching for something that would crack you up every five seconds.
    I joyfully rate it 4 out of 5 stars.
    It’s a win for this book that it hooked me and made me think I may have had a part in organizing banquets for important figures!
    Excerpts

    ‘’ it is quite possible then, that my employer fully expects me to respond to his bantering in a like manner, and considers my failure to do so a form of negligence. This is, as I say, a matter which has given me much concern. But I must say this business of bantering is not a duty I feel I can ever discharge with enthusiasm. It is all very well, in these changing times, to adapt one’s work to take in duties not traditionally within ones realm; but bantering is of another dimension altogether. For one thing, how would one know for sure that at any given moment, a response of the bantering sort is truly what is expected? One need hardly dwell on the catastrophic possibility of uttering a bantering remark only to discover it wholly inappropriate.’’

    Stevens is such a prim and proper English man that American jokes elude him inspite of his best efforts.

    ‘’we call this land of ours – great Britain,… just where and in what does it lie?…but if I were forced to hazard a guess, I would say that it is the very lack of obvious drama or spectacle that sets the beauty of our land apart. What is pertinent is the calmness of that beauty, its sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its own beauty, of its own greatness and feels no need to shout it. In comparison, the sorts of sight offered in such places as Africa and America, though undoubtedly very exciting, would, I am sure, strike the objective viewer as inferior on account of their unseemly demonstrativeness’’

    😀😀 hard to deal with this guy.

    ’The purpose: for we were, as I say, an idealistic generation for whom the question was not simply one of how well one practices one’s skills, but to what end one did so; each of us harboured the desire to make our own small contributions to the creation of a better world, and saw that as professionals, the surest means of doing so would be to serve the great gentlemen of our times in whose hands civilization had been entrusted.’’

    (If you want this book, I can e-mail it to you on the condition that when you’re through, you give your thoughts on here. Ey? And don’t be scared into thinking it’s some boring English book, its not.)
    I hope you’re subscribed to the blog by email. If you’re not, please do so.
    💜
    Yours faithfully,
    Debby.

    BOOK REVIEW–And After Many Days

    Title: And After Many Days
    Author: Jowhor Ile
    Publisher: Tim Duggan books
    Review
    The book traces the Utu family in PortHarcourt, Nigeria. The setting of the conflict period is 1995. It’s an interesting tale of children growing up in a privileged middle class family in Nigeria. The oldest son, seventeen year old Paul gets missing and we’re confronted with a personal loss and on a larger scale, political loss.
    Political loss as evidenced by failure in virtually all sectors of the society. I think it’s despairing that the challenges faced back then in Nigeria, mostly as a result of political failure are all very much present in this day – even worse. The plot is rich and devastating. It however doesn’t hit you badly until the climax.
    And after many days lends credence to the voice about the Niger Delta crisis in Nigeria; the development of the crisis and it’s impact (oil spills, gas flares, western oil companies arrival, the humiliating and harrowing experiences the military forces the members of the community through, the desecration of all indigenous land and even streams by the companies) – all from an insider’s point of view.
    There’s also an exposure to the way the military government ran things at that time.
    Jowhor is deserving of his award in the Etisalat prize for fiction in 2017. He is a delicate story-teller. This is his debut novel. The book employs a seamless technique of moving back and forth through time. The book has an intriguing and hooking opening, coupled with the author’s timeless and endearing way of describing events. It’s written in a third person omniscient perspective.
    The characters are absolutely believeable and they draw the reader in. I think most Nigerians would relate with the upbringing of the Utus children. This book takes you back in time to your childhood.
    One last credit: it had me checking the dictionary for the meaning of some words. What else can I ask for?
    Excerpts

    “You might be carrying a document instructing you to be sold and you won’t know it. Won’t read and can’t read would land you in the same place”

    God forbid!” He spat out. He looked like the sort of man for whom all strong emotions came out looking like anger. Ajie couldn’t tell if he was angry that Paul was missing or angry with Paul for going missing or whether he was angry at all. Whichever way, it was clear his sympathy was with Ma “

    “But whatever there was to know about desire and it’s cost was beyond Ajie then. He was at that time completely passionate and pure. He imagined himself, his brother, and his sister to be people who would shoot into the world and burn, fiery arrows set free by their parents from their home here at number 11. they would love greatly and do useful things. Bbi would become rich and important and build houses and hospital for the poor. Paul would simply change the world”

    “When misfortune befalls you, people secretly blame you. Ajie noticed this. People can’t help it. They do it so they can believe it won’t happen to them. They haven’t done whatever it is you did to deserve this suffering.”

    I like this book. I generously give it 5stars.
    P.s for the those who’ve read the book: what do you think of Bendic and Ma’s parenting style?
    Yours sincerely,
    Debby.
    So tell me, what do you think?

    BOOK REVIEW–HOMEGOING

    Title: HOMEGOING
    Author: Yaa Gyasi
    Publisher/publication date: Alfred A. Knopf/2016
    ISBN: 9781101947142
    Pages: 310 pages(my copy)
    Blurb
    Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of cape coast castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousand s of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery.
    One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization.
    The other thread follows Esi and her grandchildren into America. From the plantations of the south to the civil war and the great migration, from the coal mines of Pratt city, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of a captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.
    Review
    Can I request that you go back to read the blurb again. Patiently this time. Word for word, in case you sped through. Thank you.
    Homegoing is a heartrending read. It follows two sisters separated at birth and explores if either of them ever had much hope as the white man breathed down their necks. Each alternating chapter traces the two generations through the evolvement of slave trade and there is an aching cry for the enslaved and those involved in selling their own brothers to the white man. Each chapter reads like a short story of people whose lives are scarred by the actions of other humans like themselves. Its haunting because just when you get drawn into the characters and empathise with their plight, the story for that person’s generation just ceases.
    In short, it traces the legacy of slave trade in people’s every day lives and is a perspective of racial history. Life during the tribal wars in 1700, the transatlantic slave trade, the effect or lack of effect of the fugitive slave act, and how oppression of the blacks by the white shifted from that of the body to that of the mind.
    We read of the way a people’s mother tongue was whipped out of their mouths; five lashes for every one word of Twi their children would unwittingly speak. We’re enraged at how humans are shackled to owners by a piece of paper so declaring them; people who in their own rights, should have mattered.

    you want to know what weakness is? Weakness is treating someone as though they belong to you. Strength is knowing that everyone belongs to themselves”
    ”but for the rest of her life Esi would see a smile on a white face and remember the one the soldier gave her before taking her to his quarters, how white men smiling just meant more evil was coming with the next wave”

    I don’t know if a reader can read this and justify certain actions ever again in their lives.
    For me, Esi’s story was particularly haunting as she saw part of the undoing of her own people by her hands, and didn’t know it for what it was, until it was completed.
    Yaa Gyasi has this as her debut novel and I say its worthy of praise. Effort is clearly put in (I saw a quote where Gyasi said she wrote the most part of the book in a dark and dingy room in her house, giving off a dungeon vibe).Her language is the envy of other writers, and her story-telling skills seamless.
    There is a family tree at the start of the book which is very important for when the reader begins to get winded keeping up with who’s who from each generation.
    Some people lament at the way each character’s story ends just when the reader starts to fall in love. I suppose that this is a way of stating the obvious; evil would not give closure. Mothers are separated from their children, lovers are killed or sold and the reader wants closure?
    For those who have read this book, these characters remain my favourite: Esi, Ness, Kojo, Majorie.
    It’ll help if you already know one or two things about the American civil war, slave trade, racism. If you don’t, I suppose this book can be a background for further learning. I recommend this book for the preservation of history. I rate the book 4.5 stars out of 5.
    Excerpts:
    ”It was one thing to research something, another thing entirely to have lived it.”
    ”When he was younger, his father told him that black people didn’t like water because they were brought over on slave ships. What did a black man want to swim for? The ocean floor was already littered with black men”
    ”Esi stared at her mother then, and it was as though she were seeing her for the first time. maame was not a whole woman. There were large swaths of her spirit missing, and no matter how much Esi loved her, they both knew in that moment that love could never return what maame had lost. And Esi knew too that her mother would die rather than run into the woods ever again, die before capture, die even if it meant in her dying that Esi would inherit that unspeakable sense of loss, learn what it meant to be un-whole”
    ”Ness would fall asleep to the images of men being thrown into the Atlantic ocean like anchors attached to nothing: no land, no people, no worth”
    ‘the mud wall of the dungeon made all time equal. There was no sunlight. Darkness was day and night and everything in between. Sometimes there were so many bodies stacked into the women dungeon that they all had to lie, stomach down, so that women could be stacked on top of them”
    don’t matter if you was or wasn’t. all they gotta do is say you was. That’s all they gotta do. You think cuz you all muscled up, you safe? Naw, dem white folks can’t stand the sight of you. Walkin’ round free as can be. Don’t nobody want to see a black man look like you walkin’ round proud as a peacock. Like you ain’t got a lick of fear in you… I’ma tell you, war may be over but it ain’t ended”
    ”you have to understand, H. the day you called me another woman’s name, I thought ain’t I been through enough? Ain’t just about everything I ever had been taken away from me? My freedom. My family. My body. And now I cant even own my name? aint I deserve to be Ethe, to you at least if nobody else? My mama gave me that name herself. I spent six good years with her before they sold me to Louisiana to work them sugarcanes. All I had of her then was my name. that was all I had of myself too. And you wouldn’t even give me that.”
    ”She wanted to explain that at home they had a different word for African-Americans, akata. The akata people were different from Ghanaians, too long gone from the mother continent to continue to call it the mother continent. She wanted to tell Mrs.Pinkston that she could feel herself being pulled away too, almost akata, too long gone from Ghana to be called a Ghanaian. But the look on Mrs. Pinkston’s face stopped her from explaining herself at all.”
    So people, what do you think? Read this? Interested in doing so? Or do you have a comment about the slave trade? Just want to say hello? Lol. Comment people. Thank you!