Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar WaoThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The story of a Dominican family that believes in the family curse... Oscar a nerdy ghetto kid trying to find love .... The book was disappointing. The Spanish terms required a lot of reference...

Monday, December 17, 2018

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African ChildhoodBorn a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Trevor Noah's Born a Crime was a quick easy to read book owing to the humour and vivid character descriptions. Patricia Noah, Trevor's mum is depicted as strong, religious and intelligent. He helps the readers understand apartheid and the woes of growing up during and after apartheid. Trevor's childhood was not an easy one. He manages to show how crime in ghettos is perceived and how domestic violence was and is rampant in most African cultures. I kept waiting for his mother's story and how she eventually broke free of the abusive step dad...

An honest funny childhood memoir.. All along I had thought Naipaul's Miguel Street was top on my list of memoirs but this one is number one for now...

As usual, I share my favorite quotes;“Growing up in a home of abuse, you struggle with the notion that you can love a person you hate, or hate a person you love. It's a strange feeling. You want to live in a world where someone is good or bad, where you either love or hate them, but that's not how people are.”
“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.”

“Language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.”

“The way my mother always explained it, the traditional man wants a woman to be subservient, but he never falls in love with subservient women. He’s attracted to independent women. “He’s like an exotic bird collector,” she said. “He only wants a woman who is free because his dream is to put her in a cage.”

“The hood made me realise that crime succeeds because crime does the one thing the government doesn’t do: crime cares. Crime is grassroots. Crime looks for the young kids who need support and a lifting hand. Crime offers internship programmes and part-time jobs and opportunities for advancement. Crime gets involved in the community. Crime doesn’t discriminate.”

“Growing up in a home of abuse, you struggle with the notion that you can love a person you hate, or hate a person you love. It's a strange feeling. You want to live in a world where someone is good or bad, where you either love or hate them, but that's not how people are.”

Friday, December 7, 2018

Becoming by Michelle Obama

BecomingBecoming by Michelle Obama
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Michelle Obama's Becoming did not disappoint. One of the qualities that make it a good read is the brutal honesty that is depicted by how she bares the most intimate parts of her life to the reader describing the raw emotions she experience in all this moments. Yes it's feminist but what do you expect when a woman chooses to speak honestly about life ? Some of the best quotes include:

“Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”

“Women endure entire lifetimes of these indignities—in the form of catcalls, groping, assault, oppression. These things injure us. They sap our strength. Some of the cuts are so small they’re barely visible. Others are huge and gaping, leaving scars that never heal. Either way, they accumulate. We carry them everywhere, to and from school and work, at home while raising our children, at our places of worship, anytime we try to advance.”

"It went back to my wishes for them to grow up strong and centered and also unaccommodating
to any form of old-school patriarchy: I didn't want them ever to believe that life began when the man of the house arrived home."

"It hurts to live after someone has died. It just does. It can hurt to walk down a hallway or open the fridge. It hurts to put on a pair of socks, to brush your teeth. Food tastes like nothing. Colors go flat. Music hurts, and so do memories. You look at something you’d otherwise find beautiful—a purple sky at sunset or a playground full of kids—and it only somehow deepens the loss. Grief is so lonely this way."

"I tried not to feel intimidated when classroom conversation was dominated by male students, which it often was. Hearing them, I realized that they weren't at all smarter than the rest of us. They were simply emboldened, floating on an ancient tide of superiority, buoyed by the fact that history had never told them anything different."

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo

Stay with MeStay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A compelling story about Yejide and Akin and their desire to have children. A story about betrayal, loss and family. It is full of African folklore stories and proverbs. It's almost hard to believe that this is Adebayo's debut novel with the rich language and suspense she weaves in her storytelling.
The book also tells the political situation associated with the setting of the story which is the 80's and 90's in Nigeria. It depicts cultural expectations of first sons, Akin full name Akinyele was constantly reminded by his Moomi - mother of his responsibility as a first son. The same is depicted during burial rites.
A wonderful read. And as usual I will share some great quotes on the book although with such a book it was hard to pick favorites..

“She said the word 'beautiful' as if beauty was a bad habit Bolu had developed, something bordering on criminal behavior for which she would one day be justifiably punished.”

“Before you call the snail a weakling, tie your house to your back and carry it around for a week”

Monday, February 12, 2018

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and MenOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An interesting book about friendship between two men, Lennie the simple minded one and George and the pursuit of their dream of owning their own farm. However, life is complex and Lennie's judgment leads to an unexpected experience that cuts short their dream... Some of my favorite quotes are;

“A guy needs somebody―to be near him. A guy goes nuts if he ain't got nobody. Don't make no difference who the guy is, long's he's with you. I tell ya, I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an' he gets sick.”

“Ain’t many guys travel around together,” he mused. “I don’t know why. Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”
― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

Monday, January 15, 2018

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Tuesdays with MorrieTuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An interesting book about Mitch and his ailing professor . Their relationship is more than just teacher- student as Morrie seems more of a father figure to Mitch. He chooses to share his take on issues such as marriage, culture, death e.t.c as the end of his life draws near.

It's full of inspiring quotes and messages and clichés but it has many truths about life and living. An enjoyable read.

“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

Monday, December 4, 2017

So Long a Letter - Mariama Bâ

So Long a LetterSo Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very interesting thought provoking book written by a written by the widowed Ramatoulaye describing the challenges she faces in form of a letter to her friend Aissoutou.. It highlights many themes from religion, polygamy among others.

This aging widow who is so conscious of the challenges in her patriarchal society makes the book a very good read. Here are some of my favorite quotes;

“A nervous breakdown waits around the corner for anyone who lets himself wallow in bitterness. Little by little, it takes over your whole being.”

“A woman must marry the man who loves her, but never the one she loves; that is the secret of lasting happiness.”

Each profession, intellectual or manual, deserves consideration, whether it requires painful physical effort or manual dexterity, wide knowledge or or the patience of an ant.”