Books I Have Read This Year

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I am a lover of books although…not always a loyal one. In my defence, this is not completely my fault; during the term I can hardly devote time to anything other than feasting my eyes on my course reading lists. And as much as I enjoy reading ethnographies, I do think it necessary to take a break every so often and indulge in a book of my choice.

I generally find myself being drawn to three genres: fiction, self-help and smart-thinking; these are the types of books that excite me the most and stick with me a while after finishing them. Having said that, there have been a couple of books that I have ventured into this year in which a page – usually around the halfway point – remains dog-eared; the point at which I have thought ‘I’ve given you a chance, but I can’t go any further’. I decided to include them in this list anyway, for as much as I did not enjoy them, someone else may.

Here goes. In no particular order:

  • GHANA MUST GO – Taiye Selasi

This is one of my favourite books in general, not least because I find it so relatable. Set mainly in the US and Ghana, Selasi depicts the story of the Sai family – one composed of such different personalities, histories and identities. The style of the book is such that the storyline starts at the end point (the death of a family member), and rewinds to the family history leading up to that event.

Why I loved it: It was focused on personal journeys, it is very descriptive and I got a great sense of who each family member and character was and their complexities.

  • LETTERS TO A YOUNG ARTIST – Anna Deavere Smith

I ordered this book after deciding that I wanted to further explore and work on my creative side. It is a book filled with letters to the reader, and it is rich in wisdom and advice about possible situations one might face on the journey to pursue a creative career.

Why I liked it: It is a well structured book, divided into small sections, which makes it easy to refer back to. It also does not need to be read in a linear fashion, for each chapter presents a lesson separate from the others.

  • ALL ABOUT LOVE – Bell Hooks

I expected this book to be written in an academic manner – full of theories and references, but it wasn’t. It is an easy read and offers up thirteen chapters/lessons about different types of love: spiritual, romantic, self-love, to name a few. Each chapter begins with a page dedicated to a quote which matches its theme.

Why I liked it: It is insightful, reflective and applicable to everyday life and relationships.

  • CATCHER IN THE RYE – J.D Salinger

This has also become one of my favourite books – Salinger’s writing style is such that it sucks you into the story, and makes you feel as though you were accompanying the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, on his adventures. Due to the rich detail and eventfulness of the book, it is easy to forget that the entire story was set over three days.

Why I loved it: The storyline was easy to escape into and I enjoyed the sense of ‘journey’ that it took me on. I could very easily imagine the scenes in action in real life.

  • HUMANS OF NEW YORK – Brandon Stanton

I have been a fan of the HONY website for a while (who isn’t), so when my sister offered me the book as a birthday gift, I was ever grateful. It is a great looking book which features people from the website.

Why I loved it: Flicking through its pages can lead you to feel several different emotions in a short period of time. It also features beautiful photography (duh).

  • TORTILLA FLAT – John Steinbeck

I enjoyed reading ‘Of Mice and Men’ in english literature in school, and so having picked up Tortilla Flat over a year ago, I decided to start it only couple of weeks ago. It is a relatively short book, however I feel myself trudging through it. Sadly, I am not getting as much satisfaction out of this book as I expected, even though it can be funny in parts. Steinbeck tells the story of a group of men living in an area called ‘Tortilla Flat’  in the Monterey region of California, their fortunes, losses and hopes. I am currently just over halfway through, but it is taking me time to read and I am not immersing myself in it as much as I would like.

  • WORKS OF LOVE – Soren Kierkegaard

I won’t say much on this, except it is not necessarily a book that you can read to wind down. It carries many references to Christian teachings about love, and needless to say, is very philosophical and at times, repetitive.

  • NW – Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith is my literary angel. Forreal. I really enjoyed NW for the same reason that I like the Catcher in the Rye and Ghana Must Go: it follows the history and complexity of a relationship between best friends, who they have become, their relationships and their own realisations about themselves. It is very believable, funny and honest.

Why I loved it: It is quite random yet that in itself is representative of the place in which it is set – London. It is also hilarious and well written.

That’s about it, folks! Which books have caught your eye this year?

Until next time.

5 tips to help you maintain your wellbeing when starting university

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I just published my first YouTube video! If you are about to start university, college or a new school, you might find this useful. In this video, I cover 5 main tips to help you maintain your wellbeing and maximise your experience at your new institution. Take a look to find out, and leave a comment if you like :).

Take It Easy.

Wassup? I hope you have had a good week, full of lovely moments and stuff you’d hoped for…..
On the topic of desire and wishes, I just thought I’d pop by to express my gratitude for the goings on of my week. Not that it has been particularly outstanding, but it has been somewhat filled with great and small opportunities and enlightenment.

Over the past few days I have traveled to and from London a couple of times, which has given me the luxury of contemplating a taking an hour-long ‘mental wander’ each time without feeling guilty. During said wanders, I have been able to reflect on rather existential things I suppose, like the standard ‘why am I here’ and ‘where will I be in X years’ so on and so forth. Additionally, I’ve also been thinking about pressure: pressure to compete, pressure to fill up every second of my day with something ‘worthwhile’, pressure to stick to a routine…..the list goes on. In doing all of this, it has only resulted in anxiety (what a surprise!). So I had to stop and think about the following:

How often have (I) you been made to feel you are not doing enough? Not necessarily from others, but from (my)yourself?

Do you actually realise the pressure you’re putting on yourself? Are you aware that it’s all in your head?

Once I had answered these questions, prayed, meditated and tried to combat these internal pressures, my head started (and is continuing) to clear. I am now coming to see that what I am currently doing/ working on/ learning is enough. I do not need to push myself beyond what i can physically and mentally – comfortably – accomplish. This is not to say that I shouldn’t challenge myself, but I simply mean that I should not unnecessarily over-extend myself.


So, back to being grateful for opportunities. Once I cleared my mind, I was actually able to witness all kinds of opportunity unfolding before me. What an exhilarating feeling, to know that where I am, what I am doing, is already enough.

Please, take it easy on yourself. Proceed with enjoyment, and compare yourself to only yourself.

On the eve of the start of adulthood: 20 thoughts, lessons and hopes for the past, present and future

I am ready to continue going and growing.

I am ready to explore.

I am looking forward to the future. It is no longer a distant imagining; it is becoming increasingly tangible.

I am thankful for where I am presently, and for past experiences.

I love my family and wider support network.

I have learned the importance of surrounding myself with quality company.

I am feeling optimistic.

Simultaneously, I am feeling vulnerable.

I am still trying to find out what God means to me, although I think I am getting there.

I am filled with love for myself and those around me.

I hope to travel more.

I hope I continue to love learning and acquiring knowledge, as much as I currently do.

I hope to meet more incredibly inspiring, true-to-self, loving people.

I am excited to continue exploring my creativity.

My wellbeing and that of those close to me comes first.

Opportunities abound, you and I must reach out for them.

Take that step in faith.

Do not take seemingly small and insignificant comforts and joys for granted.

Be assertive.

At every stage, seek joy and fulfillment.

P.S. Happy Independence Day to my fellow Ghanaians!

Show yourself some love!

The notion of loving oneself may sound bizarre and ego-centric, but I assure you it’s not! In fact, I believe it is a necessary undertaking for anyone who wishes to understand themselves – and others – better. Fully learning to accept yourself (for it does take time) is a antidote to low self-esteem, intolerance towards others and negative relationships. Plus, it provides a great deal of fulfilment and enjoyment.

So, without further ado, here are some of the ways through which I show myself some love. Enjoy….

JOURNALING
Despite always enjoying the medium of writing, I only really discovered its therapeutic nature about 2 years ago, when I embarked on my ‘documentation’ journey. Long story short, I decided that it would be a good idea to tend to my diary at least 3 times a week, in order for me to clear my thoughts and also immortalize both the mundane and stand-out daily life experiences. What I’ve come to realise is how comparatively easy it is for me to express myself through writing, than through any other medium. I’m not sure whether this is to do with the fact that no-one else (for the moment) will or has (to my knowledge!) read my diary, allowing me to write in a completely unfiltered, honest and open manner, but it works! I am able to fully evaluate my feelings, work out where they have stemmed from, and try to, effectively, write my way to a solution. It has also helped me to chart my growth over the past month, which has been so invaluable to me. I can’t wait to see what future notebooks will hold.

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Side note: There’s something about a sexy, narrow-ruled leather-bound notebook that makes me spend unjustifiable amounts of money, obliging me to fill them and get my money’s worth. But honestly, a good looking notebook just does things to me.

FINDING A ‘COMFORT’ SPACE
This is something I became conscious of very recently. The importance of finding a space or place in which I feel comfortable or ‘at home’ is something I cannot stress enough. For me, that place is home, as in HOME home, not the one I stay in while I am at uni. Just to be surrounded by my family and nestled in a familiar environment is something that I look forward to. It gives me an opportunity to balance out a hectic week, and take some time out to relax and think! And also breathe. That’s important, too :).

STARING AT MYSELF
Okay, so this might be considered slightly cliché, nevertheless, I actually enjoy looking at myself in the mirror. Admittedly, I don’t always love what I see, but then there are also those days when I appreciate my reflection. Try it and see, place yourself in front of a mirror and stare at any part of your body: I like to start with the face and then whole, nekked-ass, body. What this does, is it allows you to confront yourself, and view yourself from YOUR perspective (for this excercise to be more effective, I recommend doing this in private – it is also less awkward….). One of the many reasons why we come to feel discontented with ourselves is that we internalise and validate other people’s opinions about us over our own, to the extent that we often start to believe them, and to negative and dangerous consequences. A way to tackle this is to learn yourself: mentally, emotionally, spiritually and PHYSICALLY. Of course, this is a process, but you’ve got to start somewhere, sometime. Personally, over time, I have come to accept appreciate my whole self even if, inevitably, I do have moments in which I can feel inadequate.

….and that constitutes part one! Part two coming up :).

On connections with people | Love, Soulfulness and ‘finding home’

For a while now, I have been fantasising about what it would feel like to find ‘home’ in someone else. Not a tangible one, but in the same way that a physical pile of brick and mortar can provide a shelter and haven from the world outside, a home for the soul, as it were. In many ways, I feel as though I have found home in myself – over the past few years I have learned an incredible amount about the kind of person i am: what I love, what I don’t want in life, who and what is important to me, and how I define god and more, all based on the events within my life. Despite this, I find it weird to think about how this level of comfort and honesty that i have with myself will translate when I come to share this with another person (whether in a romantic relationship or not). To an extent, the idea of finding a home in someone else seems foreign to me. At the same time however, I strongly believe in the importance of collaboration and partnerships between individuals, and the creation that can come out of these deep, ‘beyond the surface’ type of relationships.

Of course, I can’t ignore the significance of family and friends in my life – as i’ve grown, I have appreciated them so much more and I try to show my love in any way I can. However in many ways what this leads to is the fact that I have recently been feeling a growing disability to strike deeper connections with people, not necessarily because of disinterest, but maybe because of distrust. The feeling of vulnerability that comes from fully opening up to someone and feeling free with them, while creating an environment for the other person in the relationship to freely express themselves is really attractive to me however, sadly, not everybody is interested in exploring their emotions, let alone fully and unashamedly expressing them. Simultaneously, I am unwilling to let my emotions be devalued or trivialised, and this is in large part why i don’t tell just anyone about personal issues. My personal information is not to be shared unless I say it is, nor is it something you can can use against me.

In saying all of this, I’ve met many wonderful people who value deeper, more soulful connections, and those are the people I am most comfortable with and around. Ultimately, while i value time with and by myself, I really come alive when I find people with whom I can talk about truly anything, and who also feel they can do the same. I guess my focus for the year will be to take my time and value the great relationships I have with people in my life currently, while also nurturing the relationship I have with myself.