If you’ve been reading this blog for a while (or if you’re following me over on Instagram) you probably know that one of my biggest hobbies is to read. My favourite kind of novels are the ones that teach you something at the same time as keeping you invested in a gripping story. In this post, I have put together a list of my favourite novels that will truly change your perspective and how you see the world.
“We read to know we’re not alone.”
+ Americanah: This is probably one of my favourite novels ever. And I read A LOT of great books. Americanah tells the story of lovers Ifemelu and Obinze. As they leave Nigeria for the West, they get separated. Ifemelu tries to find her way in the US while Obinze goes to England. 15 years later they meet again, as both once again return to their homeland. It’s a fascinating and true story about being an immigrant, an outsider, as well as finding your way back once you’ve left your home.
+ Homegoing: Homegoing isn’t a typical read for me since the story picks of in the 18th century (and I’m NOT a fan of historical fiction). The story is worth reading it though. It deals with the sisters Effia and Esi, two sisters with two very different destinies. While Esi is sold into slavery in America, while Effia stays in Ghana and marries a British slave trader. The novel tells the story of their families – each generation up until this day. It’s a fantastic tale and it will really change your perspective on American history as well.
+ When the Moon is Low: I only just finished this book and now I want to get everyone I know to read it. It tells the story of Fereiba who flees from Afghanistan with her three children after her husband gets killed. In the course of the journey (spoiler alert) Fereiba and her 16-year old son Saleem get separated, each trying to find their own way to London. I’ve never read a refugee story that tells the individual details of the different stops of the journey (Turkey, Greece, Italy and so on) in such detail. This book isn’t an easy read, but it definitely changes your perspective as well.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
+ The Kite Runner: I love all of Khaled Hosseini’s novels, The Kite Runner as well as “And the Mountain Echoed” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”. If you still haven’t read any of them, you need to change that immediately. This is his first one, so I’d start with it. His prose is absolutely beautul and you will learn a lot about Afghanistan and it’s history along the way.
+ Exit West: This novel is quite new and well worth the buzz it received lately. It tells the story of Nadia and Saeed, two very different people who fall in love in the middle of a civil war. Together, they decide to flee. Will they make it? And will their love make it as well? A very wise observation of a book.
+ Half of a Yellow Sun: My second book from Adichi for this post, but she’s just so good. This book is really informative as well, this time on the civil war in Nigeria in the 1960s, how the world reacted and what it did to Nigerian citizens. But it’s not just a history book – there are three intermingled family stories that are really fascinating as well.
+ The Lowland: Another family story (can you tell that I like those?), this time set in India in the 1960s. Brothers Sudash and Udayan are inseparable, but also absolutely different. Udayan wants to change Indian politics, while Sudash leaves for America to make a name for himself. Then tragedy happens and the family is shook upside down. This is another book I absolutely love and it will keep you glued to the pages till the end.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
+ Behold the Dreamers: Jende and Neni are immigrants in New York, fresh from Nigeria. The year is 2007 and it’s looking good – Jende has a job with a Clark Edwards, a high manager at Lehman Brothers. The family is moving up in the world. Then the financial world crashes down – and for Jende and Neni everything changes too.
+ Zeitoun: This is the (real!) story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a prosperous Syrian-American and father of four children. When Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans, he decides to stay in the city to take care of his properties. What happens to people once order is lost, is truly scary. This shows how prejudices affect all of us and how they can have truly horrible repercussions. Not an easy read, but definitely worth it.
+ What is the What: I read this book ages ago and it still has an impact on me. It’s from 2006, written way before the ‘refugee crisis’, but it’s still surprisingly relevant. It tells the story Valentino Achak Deng, a refugee from Sudan, and what he has experienced on his way out of his country. This book will haunt you.
What books did you read lately that changed your perspective?