2015 was a year I had plenty of stuff to do, Most especially that I had lots of books to read, but the thing about me and books this year was that I started my transition from fiction reader to essay reader, so I didnt really have time to read most of the books that people were raving about this year. It was not as if I didn’t read any fiction, it was just the fiction I mostly read and enjoyed were short story pieces, not much in the way of long fiction I’m afraid *covers face*. This year, I also read and enjoyed a bit of poetry, which I could confess, I haven’t done post secondary school. Without much ado here are 10 of my most enjoyed books for 2015
Blazing Moon Nwachukwu Egbunike
This was one of the few poetry collections I enjoyed this year. And I loved the collection because the poems in it were short and that made the collection very easy to read. However what I loved most was the organicity of Nwachukwu’s poetry, the fact that the writer seemingly grows with the poems, and keeps the reader riveted as the poet’s world unfolds…
On The Bank of The River: Ifeoluwapo Adeniyi
I already wrote everything I need to say about this book here.
8. Ake ni Igba Ewe ( A Yoruba Translation of Wole Soyinka’s Ake the Years of Childhood) Professor Akinwumi Isola
Before this year, I had never read Wole Soyinka’s “Ake The Years of Childhood” I can not explain why, because I have read a number of his other works, even less popular ones, like Opera Wonyosi and his notoriously difficult to make sense of novel, The Interpreters. So it happened that I was going through the Ake Festival Bookstore in 2014, I found this translation. Somehow 2014 ended before I could read it, but when I finally did it was worth the wait. What I loved most about this book was that given that for most of my childhood, the language I remember mostly speaking was Yoruba, English had always been this impersonal language you only spoke to people you are trying to impress. So Ake in Yoruba for me was more than a book I read, it was a world I lived in, where the characters spoke my language, and lived my experiences. I also enjoyed the feel of the Nigerian poilitics of the periodThe thing I found most interesting for some reason, was the demystifying of The Reverend Isreal Ransome Kuti ( Daodu in the book). especially Mrs Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (Beere/Aya Kuti in the Book), who I had hitherto thought was a “hardocore” feminazi “iron lady” who didn’t allow her “weakling” husband to get a word in, in the house.
7. Iwe Itan Ibadan: I.B Akinyele
2015 was not the first time I read this book, infact It was one of the books that inflamed my love for and my ability to read and write in Yoruba, as a kid of around 4 or 5, my dad used to gather us round to read to us from it. However it was in 2015 that the book started to make real deep impressions. Olubadan Akinyele’s painstaking attention to detail, his creativity with language and ability as a narrator, creates a book which draws the reader in and gives him the impression that he is travelling through time. It is a recommended resource for historians who want to get an unbiased and wholistic report of how Ibadan went from a piece of land straddling the jungle and the Savannah, to the largest city in Africa, and the political and sociocultural issues that influenced the people who live in the city. Such was the influence of the book on me that it inspired an Essay from from me and created the foundations material for the historical fiction drama I just completed.
6. Tributaries of Servitude: Servio Gbadamosi
The only other work of poetry in this review. The fact that the book won the 2015 Association of Nigerian Authors prize for poetry obviously says a lot about its quality. To paraphrase the scriptures: many are called to be poets but few are chosen and given the requisite gift of the gab. Servio Gbadamosi is one of those few.
5. Soyinka: A Collection of Critical Essays. Oyin Ogunba (Ed.)
Like the entry in number 7, this was also not published in 2015, the book was compiled in 1994, and is a collection of essays from academics mostly from the Department of English and the Department of Literature in English, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife. I came upon it in my dad’s library and felt I should read it. The critics cum academics who feature in the collection are Soyinka’s junior colleagues and early students and thus they are able to provide profound insight and analysis of Wole Soyinka the man, the writer, the social and political activist honourable mentions go to M. E. M Kolawole for daring to challenge Soyinka on Feminism, and Oyin Ogunba who discussed how various characters in Soyinka’s works are influenced by his experiences in Ake.
A friend had sent issues I and II, to me in 2014, but I unfortunately lost them in an system crash. It was this year that I had another friend point me to a place where I could download them. I would confess that I have not read another work that describe Africa the way ACR issues did,the articles I enjoyed most Chris Abani’s Lagos:A Pilgrimage in Notations in the launch issue, and Las Vegas: The Last African City, in the Fixtures and Mobilities issue. I also enjoyed Akin Adesokan’s Ibadan, Soutin and The Puzzle of Bower’s Tower in the launch issues for obvious reasons, and Jumoke Verrisimo and Adolphus Opara co authored This Sea shall be Uprooted in the Land, Property and Value Issue. African Cities Reader is the book to read for the reader who wants is looking for the pulse of Africa as defined by Africans.
The panel of judges of the Abubakar Gimba prize for short fiction probably agree with me with the quality of this work, and you can read more praise for Smithereens of Death here . What really attracted me to this collection of short stories, is its treatment of the themes ofdeath and madness. As the linked review says “Bunmi Familoni is a breed of writer not commonly found in Africa, and is one of the first set of new voices in his type of literature
A Song of Ice and Fire (the novels of Game of Thrones): George R.R. Martin
The series adapted from these books by HBO, is one of the most popular TV series of all time,now imagine the books where every plot hole of the series makes sense. There is only one word to describe these books and that word is “awesome”
This is actually a comedy website, with the requisite dick jokes, not particularly a book. There is no other material that influenced my writing this year as cracked.com did. Cracked.com’s irreverent outlook on society and their propensity for comedy and satire, allows the reader to learn things while laughing his head off. Amidst all the comedy, however, Cracked does unexpectedly deliver profound insight through their personal experience articles. The thing I came to love about Cracked.com this year was their comment sections, you listen to different individual sharing feelings, knowledge and advice and you come away everyday from Cracked.com feeling like you are a citizen of the world. Not bad for a site that call themselves “The dick jokes capital of the internet.”