If you were a book, how would you describe yourself?
- Mysterious. You wouldn’t know what to expect next so I’d keep you on toes throughout every page.
When did you name yourself as a bookworm?
- About four years ago, after I left secondary school.
The first book you read by yourself?
- I honestly can’t remember but for African literature, it was The Joys of motherhood by Buchi Emecheta
Digital or Paper Books? Why?
- Paper all the way! Apart from the fact that digital can create some distraction, the smell of books is like an opium to me. I feed my eyes with enough light just by using mainstream electronics, I wouldn’t want to subject it to the horror of digital books.
Nature vs Nurture. Do you think creativity is inborn or learnt?
- Nurture. To innately possess creativity is a plus, yes, but one has to buttress this by nurturing it. Although, a menage of the two would be better.
4 items on your Wishlist
- A proper book shelf.
- An all expense paid trip to Paris with book coupons
- Book chats with all my favourite authors
- To be one of the smartest scientists my generation has seen.
Last song/album you downloaded
- I’m not really a song person but the last song listened to will be ‘How far I’ll go’, a soundtrack in the movie Moana.
Last time you laughed yourself to tears
- Honestly, I can’t remember.
How many physical books do you own?
- I’m not too sure but almost 100.
How do you make time to read?
- On weekends, after chores and studying, I dedicate my free time to reading. During weekdays, I carry my current read around and start reading as soon as I have any time to spare. In the bus, on a queue, while eating lunch, e.t.c.
Favourite place to read?
- Under a wide tree shade
What do you do when you’re not reading?
- Studying, I’m still a university student. Taking bookish pictures. Writing, as I am a freelance writer. Having nice discussions with my good friends. Chatting up old friends on social media. Sometimes, I visit fashion blogs too.
Mention some of the challenges you face as a Nigerian book lover? What do you think could be better about the reading culture in Nigeria?
- Access to books!! That is the height of the struggle. Most times, I get to read books that most foreigners have read 5 years later. Another struggle is the constant questions people ask: “Do you mean you read all the books on you take pictures of?”, “How do you have the time to read mainstream books as a biochemistry student?”, “Are you sure you will finish that really big book?” It can be cute at times but it’s exhausting.
- I think the government should further encourage the habit of reading. For example, they could sponsor several book and art festivals across the country so that people don’t have to get discouraged by the locations of the few book festivals we have.
- There should also be some sort of encouragement to Nigerians who, despite the weak reading culture, still thrive on books. Maybe through the provision of easier access to books or public recognition and provision of grants.
What is your best book experience so far?
- This is hard because have read so many great books but for now, I had the best bookish experience during the 2016 Ake Book and Arts Festival. It was as swell as any book festival could be and it was the most fun I’ve had all my life.
One book you’ll always recommend?
- Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta
Where is your favourite place to buy books?
- I used to like buying books at bookstores but I recently stumbled on some thrift booksellers.
It’s impressive how they choose to make their living through such noble profession. It is possible they don’t even read these books but as opposed to going into robbery or money rituals, they chose to survive this harsh economy by providing books at extremely cheap prices for book lovers like myself.
For this, I say a big thank you to thrift booksellers all over the country.
Write or Publish?
- Both? Diversification is the key to surviving this world.
- This is another hard one but man! now, I love Laila Lalami so much!
As a self-proclaimed foodie, name one Nigerian Snack you can’t get enough of.
- Kuli-kuli! Lord! Especially when it’s peppery and you take it with a chilled bowl of ice cream!
One thing you look forward to doing in the next 5 years
- God willing, becoming a successful biochemist/ forensic scientist and a well-accomplished writer.
Tell us the best advice you received recently
- “Do not tie your self-confidence to another or the attention they give you”
Aisha Yusuf is a contributor to Homeland Reviews. Read her latest posts here.