I read somewhere that successful people read a lot. There were real numbers in that stat but the numbers aren’t important here.
I was a library assistant in high school. And I know “niggas don’t read” is a nasty stereotype but them niggas really didn’t read. And it wasn’t even like we had a shitty library like you would expect of a public school. Our shit was stocked, but there were hardly ever any books for me to re-shelve so I had a lot of free time that period. What is one to do when surrounded by shelves of books and periodicals? Read them shits.
I was a nerdy bitch. I wasn’t popular, wasn’t cool, we’ve been over this but you better believe nobody could see me on those Accelerated Reading tests. You read a book, you take a test, and depending on how many points you accumulated, you could cash them in at the AR store. Now this was elementary school, and I was cashing those points in for Pixie Sticks and Airheads but it’s the principle, dammit.
Reading and reward.
Without further ado, these are some of the most influential books that I’ve ever read.
- Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This novel is as entertaining as it is insightful. It tells the story of a Nigerian immigrant woman, Ifemelu, who comes to America for university. Throughout her time in America, Ifemelu blogs about her experiences in America and the conundrums that that brings with it. Race, hair, and identity are the core issues of the novel. Adichie paints an honest picture of 21st century America.
- Siddhartha, Herman Hesse
Sound familiar? Siddhartha Gautama: the person credited with inventing Buddhism.
Well, this is a fictional account of young Siddhartha’s journey from wandering ascetic to becoming the Buddha. It’s a story of self discovery. Very existential and all that.
I read this in high school and I’m definitely going to find a way to get my hands on it again, soon.
- 1984, George Orwell
A wise individual once said, “The world is turning more and more into a George Orwell novel.”
Oh that was me? Bet.
This is the novel I was talking about. I’ve always had a sweet spot for dystopian literature and I don’t know of too many writers who do it better than Orwell.
The funny thing about this novel is that he thought this world would’ve reverted to a dystopic state by the year 1984. He was a few decades off the mark but he made his point.
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens (People), Sean Covey
I remember this got assigned for a summer reading project in middle school. I’ve had my copy for years and I often go back to it as a reference.
Even though it is a success guide for teenagers, Sean’s father, wrote a similar book geared towards adults but the information is essentially the same.
- The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin
Baldwin’s writing style is so powerful it’s almost arousing. That sharp tongue taken to paper resulted in a gripping page turner on race in America.
The first time I read this was my sophomore year of college. The Black Lives Matter movement had reached a rolling boil at that point. It was around the time of Eric Garner’s murder and as a result, the weight of the present moment was heavy on my mind as I read.
After I read this I just had to take a moment to process the bomb that Baldwin dropped on my head top.
- Start with Why, Simon Sinek
This book changed my life. I read it late last year to get my mind right for the new year. When people talk about setting goals and starting new ventures, the concept of starting with why is key.
Why? Why do you want certain things? Why did you set that goal for yourself?
If you’re trying to put your life goals into perspective, this is a must read.
He’s given many talks on his book at one conference or another. He is as much a great speaker as he is a writer.
Moral of the story: Read a book. You might get something out of it.