Nigeria is rated by the World Culture Score Index as one of the countries in the world with the lowest reading culture. There is no gainsaying that the reading culture among the Nigerian populace is gasping for breath. Suffice to say that the mode of critical thinking and personal development is lost in the absence of reading. Books and other informational materials enhance intelligence, analytical and problem-solving skills as well as providing the reader with a therapeutic effect.
Therefore, whether you are an ardent reader or a first-timer, these literary masterpieces will help you start the holiday in style.
Here is a list of books (in no particular order) you should consider sinking your teeth into before the back-to-school rush. This list include books published as far back as 1923. Make no mistakes, the intellectual empowerment you seek are within the pages of these books.
‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Published in 2006, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ is set in 1960-Nigeria. It chronicles the Nigeria-Biafra civil war through the lenses of ethnically Igbo characters (Odenigbo, Olanna, Kainene and Ugwu) especially Ugwu’s, who is a houseboy to the radical academic, Odenigbo. Readers will definitely learn a lot about the civil war that ravaged the Eastern part of the country between 1967 and 1970. Trust me, it’s a good read.
‘Weep Not, Child’ by Ngugi Wa Thiongo
‘Weep not, child’ follows the story of Njoroge, the son of a poor farmer growing up through the years of the Kenyan emergency. It is a novel that details the effects of the Mau Mau uprising on the lives of ordinary men and women, particularly on Njoroge’s family. It will give readers insights into the revolutionary, anti-colonialist turmoil in East African Kenya.
‘Gifted Hands’ by Ben Carson
This is a autobiography about renowned Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Ben Carson, a kid from inner-city Detroit with poor grades and less motivation, who gained worldwide recognition for his part in the first successful separation of Siamese twins. In ‘Gifted Hands’, he tells the inspiring story of his childhood and his rise to the position of Director of Pediatric Surgery at John Hopkins Hospital at 33.
‘Death and the King’s Horseman’ by Wole Soyinka
This is a play by Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, about a real event that took place during the British Colonial rule in Nigeria. The plot centres around a character called ‘Elesin’, who is sworn to accompany his king to journey to the spirit world at the King’s demise. This book depicts a clash between two cultures and the tragedy that follows.
‘The Prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran
This Gibran’s masterpiece is one of the most spiritual classics of all time. It has been translated into over 100 languages. ‘The Prophet’ contains 26 prose-poetry fables. The book examines topics about life and the human condition such as children, love, work, joy and sorrow, law, freedom, reason and passion, crime and punishment, friendship, religion, self-knowledge, good and evil, pleasure, beauty, death, amongst others. It was published in 1923 but still can serve as a guide to many.
‘Long Walk to Freedom’ by Nelson Mandela
‘Long Walk to Freedom’ is a non-fiction that traces the journey of Nelson Mandela from being a common man and activist to the President of South Africa. It is a political autobiography that focuses on Mandela’s early life, adolescence and prison years in apartheid South Africa. It is safe to say that you can meet ‘Madiba’ through this book.
‘Purple Hibiscus’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This is a apt novel about the emotional turmoil of adolescence; family bonds; and the bright promise of freedom.. It is a coming-of-age narrative about a young girl who struggles to assert her identity in a patricentric culture. It also has a sub-plot that discusses military dictatorship. It’s a page turner.
‘Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
First published on the author’s official Facebook page in 2016, ‘Dear Ijeawele’, is an epistolary-form manifesto which was later adapted into a book and published in print in 2017. It is a powerful statement about feminism, detailing how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. Filled with compassionate guidance and advice, it examines what it means to be a woman in our world today.
‘I Do Not Come to You by Chance’ by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
Nwaubani’s novel is set amid the precarious world of Nigeria email scams. It follows the story of a young man and his family. Being the first child of the family (Opara) , Kingsley Ibe had to shoulder the responsibility of taking care of his siblings and mother after the death of his father. Harsh realities of life begin to set in for the intelligent Kingsley who graduated from university with first class honours and is stuck with his dubious Uncle. Read how Kingsley reconciles his brilliance and hunger for money.
‘The Chibok Girls’ by Helon Habila
This novel is ‘a controlled, lucid and deeply felt account’ centered around the Chibok Girls kidnapping that sparked global outrage and started a campaign for their release on social media. Habila, however, integrated into his plot interviews from the survivors and the bereaved. Readers will learn about the ascent of Boko Haram and the terrible fallout of their ongoing presence in Northeastern Nigeria.