Tag Archives: Books

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Review

The Thing Around Your Neck is a collection of short stories from the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She explores so many topics and themes in these short stories, with elegance and grace she holds the readers attention and just doesn’t let go.

She writes about the experiences of Nigerians living in contemporary America, about Nigerian women who find themselves in America for various reasons. Betrayed by the men they looked up to, who were supposed to give them bright futures. In ‘Imitation’, ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’, ‘The Shivering’ and ‘The Arrangers Of Marriage’ she writes about their disappointment; in men, in life, in America.  She also writes about the onset of colonisation in ‘The Headstrong Historian’. About Nigerian politics, political unrest and the biafran war in ‘Cell One’, ‘A Private Experience’, ‘Ghosts’ and ‘The American Embassy’. About homosexuality in ‘on Monday of last week’ and ‘The Shivering’.

I love how Chimamanda breaks down the ignorance of the white man in ‘Jumping Monkey Hill’. Where a  collection of writers write about their personal experiences but find themselves dismissed by a white lecherous snobby benefactor who does not believe the things they are going through are truly African. Chimamanda has spoken about the danger of a single story before and I feel like she is reminding us in this short story. Despite claiming to be a keen Africanist having lived on the continent for so long, the character is blind to the fact that Africans can be lesbians or that professional women are expected to present their bodies and sexuality as part of the commodities for sale during the negotiation of contracts. This white man, stands there and argues what the true African experience is and what is a valid story for an African to write.

Adichie reminds us that the African experience is multifaceted, very obviously in ‘Jumping Monkey Hill’ and throughout the collection.

‘The headstrong historian’ is probably the best story in this book. It read like a shout out to Chinua Achebe and was an amazing way to end the collection. However, my favourite of the short stories was ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’ because it is so emotional. Because it is a collection of so many niggly feelings that you can’t quite explain. So many questions that you might not even want answered.

The thing around your neck is 5/5 for me, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie creates so many lump in the throat moments. The book was so easy to read and i wished it would not end. Her stories are so deliciously told that only after you have consumed them with gusto do you realise that you have learned so much from her amazing storytelling.

Happy Reading ❤

 

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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Review:

I feel late to this party, Things Fall Apart has been a great novel long before I was even born. Nevertheless, here are a few of my thoughts on it.

I love the way Chinua writes, the way he explains traditions and phenomenons are practical and beautiful.

“Proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten”

This book for me is a story of great sorrow. It is about the loss of culture in the name of civilisation. It is the story of how hundreds of African settlements  were destroyed in the name of western progress. It is a story of the arrogance of western society and I couldn’t be more glad that Chinua Achebe wrote it, lest we forget.

Things fall apart has been criticised by some claiming “nothing interesting happened”. Apart from the slow painful tearing down of a civilisation that just so happened to be different… I found a lot of interesting things did happen. Things happened to Okonkwo and members of his family (No spoilers). There were moments I was on the edge of my seat. But what is considered “interesting” differs from person to person, so let ye be the judge.

On the subject of misogyny, having myself been called a feminazi (for simply asserting that I think men and women should be equal), it’s safe to say I’m a feminist. I won’t sit here and say there was no misogyny present in this book. It portrays women as being owned by their fathers and then by husbands, serving little other purpose than to bear children. Having said that, the book tells us of the high priestess – A woman with the power to veto decisions made by the elders and clansmen. Did someone say bad bitch?

The ending – Unexpected. I hated Okonkwo at first, I expected more resilience and defiance from him. But he was a proud man, and we know what comes before a fall.

 

Happy Reading ❤

 

Book review : The Fly Guy by Colum Sanson-Regan

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My Thoughts:

***3.5 stars***

 

The Fly Guy is the debut novel of musician, actor and now, author Colum Sanson-Regan. He writes a sinister thriller that explores the creative process and questions how much control artists have over their creations.

Martin Tripp is a struggling writer who appears to strike gold when he creates Henry Bloomburg, a private investigator. Henry has solved a lot of unusual cases although one mystery still eludes him, the case of The Fly Guy… a deviant man who seems to slip through the streets unnoticed, appearing to shadow the dead.

Martin writes the interconnected stories of a drug dealer, a bodyguard, a private investigator and Lucy. When Martin finds himself getting stuck on their stories, he buries them. In real life he embraces change in the form of routine and a more conventional way of life. But when Martin spots someone he shouldn’t, someone he can’t possibly be seeing, the line between fantasy and reality is blurred. Martin finds that he can no longer control Henry’s timeline, his obsession with the Fly guy’s identity threatens everything that Martin has built.

Martin is initially like-able and relatable, but as the story progressed I became apprehensive. Where exactly does his inspiration come from? The story concludes in such a way that I had to draw some of my own conclusions. Is the mystery solved? How exactly are these lives connected?  There are many unanswered questions which serve to add mystery to the story but perhaps an equally thrilling sequel would be appropriate to provide some closure. From a mind that is no stranger to creativity and science fiction, we are presented with the lives of multiple people from different worlds that intersect, bringing chaos to their creator. The Fly guy is a gripping novel that will keep you unsure till the end.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

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Goodread Description:

Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

 

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

***2 stars***

The Alchemist was recommended to me by a friend, who had been put on to it by another friend, who thought it was magic. This book will change our lives… apparently. Well, my friend hasn’t finished it yet, and I can see why.

I actually feel like I should give this 2 ratings/reviews.One based on its feel good quality, because that’s probably why people pass it on to friends. You read this book and it makes you feel fantastic, the entire universe cares about you, the universe cares about your dreams, wants you to chase them, and will help you achieve them. I should have read this in high school! The morals on the surface are pretty sound, if you want to achieve something, go for it. There will be obstacles in the way, that’s life. There are other cultures out there well worth experiencing, travel. So yeah, 5 stars for making people feel good, and think about their own lives.

Two based on the idea that this is somehow meant to show us how to live. You know, ‘The transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts’ easy on the cheese please!

Spoiler: The boy in this book has no real responsibility, so it makes sense that he could get up and leave on a whim. But what about people with responsibilities? Are parents or carers losers for not abandoning their loved ones in search of their personal legends?

On his journey he meets a girl he falls for (based solely on her looks), she seems to want him too. Now, apparently the role of women in this world is to sit and wait while men go to follow their dreams. No. Nope. Not for me, thanks. With absolutely no timescale on his return, she is meant to wait blindly till he comes back for her? What if he meets someone else along these travels? Afterall he actually ‘loved’ a different girl while he was home. Forget it mate. The women in this story don’t have their own personal legends, they can apparently only be part of a mans! Even though the minerals, like copper, have personal legends. Yeah, that’s not OK.

Spoiler: The boy is working towards finding his treasure. I kind of hoped the treasures would end up not including any material possessions. But it did, and he found it. Suggesting that all you have to do is work towards one massive jackpot, your big break,  like winning the x-factor or something. When in reality, much of life’s successes are built over time, with hard work and perseverance. This wouldn’t be such a problem if this was just a story, but The Alchemist to me is marketed as a sort of self-help, this is the way to live your life book. It’s suggested that by following your dream (whatever it may be) you’ll actually make the world a better place… but in reality, just because you have a dream doesn’t make it good and worth chasing, I mean, some people have awful dreams! Sometimes your heart is wrong, your brain needs to step in, ask you to use logic, sit down and shut up. Sometimes you have doubts, and they are well founded, refusing to self-doubt can be problematic and breeds ignorance.

This book basically tells you to be selfish, to do exactly what you want, regardless of who you might hurt or leave behind. That money is in fact the treasure we all seek, not love, not family, just gold that we didn’t particularly earn.

Basically, if this is read to be some sort of life mantra… maybe think twice about it. Otherwise its a cute story of a boy who followed his heart back home.

Happy Reading ❤

Teaser Tuesday #5

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“Everyone has his or her own way of learning things”, he said to himself. “His way isn’t the same as mine, nor mine his. But we’re both in search of our personal legends, and I respect him for that.”

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.