Famous media personality and philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey better known for her American talk show has a book club which used to be a segment of the show. The book club has been in existence since 1996. According to Operah, she loves books and “the community that is created when people share them.”
These 5 books I’m about to list have actually been read and discussed over the years in Oprah’s book club.
‘Say You’re One of Them’ by Uwem Akpan
This book is a collection of 5 short stories set in different African countries and is told from the POV of children. Ever watched those documentaries foreigners make about the desolation of children from impoverished, war-ravaged African countries? If yes, then you’ll appreciate Uwem Akpan’s commendable effort at depicting this narrative in a more realistic manner devoid of ignorance – African to the world. Say You’re One of Them has so many heartbreaking themes. In addition to the bleakness, the concluding story will likely leave you with a tight, heavy feeling in your chest. Your eyes might even get misty. A very, necessary read.
‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama
I love memoirs, and I’m glad I read this book. If you’ve ever wondered what being a FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States) really entails beyond the cute pictures you see in the news, then this is a must-read. It’s so humane! Michelle Obama takes us back to her childhood days in the South Side, dealing with being black, her Law practice, meeting former POTUS (President of the United States) who is equally a Lawyer, motherhood and life in the White House in 3 stages – Becoming Me, Becoming Us and Becoming More. Also, I found the book to be a kind of exposé into the ‘rise’ of the (first Black) 44th president of the United States.
You should give it a try (if you haven’t already).
“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”
‘An American Marriage’ by Tayari Jones
First off, let me just state that if you don’t like love triangles, then you might want to steer clear of this one (or step out of your comfort zone?). This book defied any fairytale ending I might have been nursing somewhere in my subconscious. It’s as if the notion of waiting for your beloved no matter how long it takes is set in stone, and Tayari Jones gives us a shocker. Here’s the whole story in one sentence: Black man gets accused of rape and is sentenced to 12 years imprisonment but regains his freedom 7 years early only to discover that his wife has moved on with someone else. I’m refraining from saying more for fear of spoiling the book if you haven’t read it :). There’s currently a lot of buzz around it, but I wasn’t OVERLY thrilled. Although, I got a glimpse into what starting over for those incarcerated can feel like.
“But home isn’t where you land; home is where you launch. You can’t pick your home any more than you can choose your family. In poker, you get five cards. Three of them you can swap out, but two are yours to keep: family and native land.”
“Marriage is between two people. There is no studio audience.”
‘Behold the Dreamers’ by Imbolo Mbue
What happens when an African couple immigrate to America, the “Dream” land, with naive hopefulness for a better life? They get a rude awakening, that’s what. Ibole Mbue paints a realistic picture of what it meant to be a foreigner during the Great economic Depression. Even now in 2020, the issue of immigration in the United States remains a huge topic that needs proper addressing. This book will engross and grip you in a way that wards off sleep or boredom.
“You think I don’t want to remain in America, too? You think I came to America so that I can leave? I work as a servant to people, driving them all over, the whole day, sometimes the whole week, answering yes sir, yes madam, bowing down even to a little child. For what, Neni? What pride are you talking about? I lower myself more than many men would ever lower themselves. What do you think I do it for? For you, for me. Because I want us to say in America! But if America says they don’t want us in their country, you think I’m going to keep on begging them for the rest of my life?…Never. Not for one day…”
‘The Heart of a Woman’ by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou takes us through a journey of her life as a performer, civil rights activist, Black woman and mother in this fourth installment of her memoirs. You’ll definitely be taken by her stark honesty and adventurous experiences – working for Martin Luther King Jr in New York, meeting Malcolm X, life with a South African partner in Cairo and nursing her son, Guy back to life in Accra, Ghana. A perfect blend of “literature and autobiography” definitely worth your while.
“Something wonderful was about to be born, and we were all going to be good parents to the welcome child. Its name was Freedom.”
“Intelligence always had a pornographic influence on me.”
If you belong to a book club in Nigeria, you could suggest these books for your next book discussions.