“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.” – (Page 201, We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Adichie)

Happy new month, guys! If possible, stay indoors locked away from senseless pranks today. It’s  Fools’ Day incase you’re wondering.

I first heard Adichie’s TED talk on feminism in my final year at uni when one of my lecturers asked that we listen to her Danger of A Single Story TED talk. I found this one in the process and it opened my eyes to what feminism was truly about. The topic is generally a problematic one as most people don’t bother to research and regurgitate things they heard feminism is about from other people. In ‘We Should All Be Feminists’, Adichie expands her TED talk (with the same name). It’s a very short but important book I think everyone should read and re-read.

You hate men, you hate bras, you hate African culture, you think women should always be in charge, you don’t wear makeup, you don’t shave, you’re always angry, you don’t have a sense of humor, you don’t use deodorant.

Of course, like some of the people Adichie describes in this short, I thought feminism was essentially bra-burning and man-hating. But as Adichie describes, a feminist is simply someone who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.

Like the novelist that she is, Adichie uses personal, life/childhood experiences to paint pictures her readers can understand and relate to. One I found particularly interesting and relatable was the Class Monitor story on page 67. Her class teacher had said that anyone with the highest scores on a test would become Class Monitor. With that position came the power to submit the names of noisemakers to the teacher and carry around a cane while patrolling for said noisemakers in class- and we all know the Class Monitor hardly ever got punished. Adichie had the highest scores but wasn’t made Monitor because of an unspoken rule the Monitor had to be a boy. So the second best, a boy who had no interest in the position, was made Monitor. Adichie was devastated – and rightly so.

 We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage. We teach boys to be afraid of fear, of weakness, of vulnerability. We teach them to mask their true selves, because they have to be, in Nigerian-speak – a hard man. – (Page 149)

The author also speaks about how men are raised to become people who have to prove/assert their masculinity to cater to fragile egos. In social settings, we naturally expect that the man will always pay for the meal without considering he may not be able to pay for another person’s meal and cab ride home. In our world, a man is most desirable when he has expensive gadgets, a great body, a nice ride and other material things not necessary when he’s witty or can have an intelligent conversation about wide range of topics.

I especially love how Adichie wrote this short in a simple, non-threatening and affecting way explaining why feminism/gender equality is a worthy cause.

Was the author successful in carrying out the overall purposes of the book? Definitely

Would you recommend this book to others? Most definitely

Rating: 5/5

My recommendations for this month are:

Dont forget you only have to read one book.

Before we get to your reviews I’m glad to announce  that we have another partner onboard. The awesome people at Africareeds.com have decided to give all you book lovers 10% discount on any purchase made on their site. All you have to do is use this promo code when checking out: NAKEDCONVOS10. So you see, now you have absolutely no excuse.

Time to hear from you:

What book did you read?

Summarise

Evaluate and critique the book

Wrap up with the strengths and weaknesses and mention if you would recommend the book to other people

Give a numerical score/rating.

Responses

  1. Od
    I will look to read Chimamanda’s book. So far, from your review, that is, I’ve seen stuff to agree with and stuff to disagree with. I think, for instance, that she still fell into the same trap she tries to save extreme feminists from but then I need to read it to see the full development of her thoughts.

    Book I read last month? Er, none? I don’t think I deliberately read through anyone. Books have been happening sporadically to me for a while now. Some months I read several. Others I re-read or I simply glance at several different writings. Can’t think one book I read last month.

    I like your suggestions. especially the first and the third. Will read one or both if I can.

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    1. Ibukun
      Ah I know the struggle. I think there should be something like reader’s block. It’s just as real as writer’s block in my opinion.

      Glad you like the recommendations! Hope you will be reading one

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    2. Ibukun Post author
      Hello Od,

      Would love to read a review if you manage to read both books!

      We Should All Be Feminists would probably take 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on how fast you read. I think you should check it out

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  2. Exclusive
    You won’t regret reading The Alchemist, I can tell you that for sure.

    It is a book that opens your mind and heart to the possibilities in dreams. It also brings to mind that sometimes what we’re looking for is in the least likely place we thought to look for it.

    I do hope you take time out to read it. Cheers!

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  3. Damilare
    Lol..Ibukun gave a feminism book a rating of 5/5, i wish that’s enough to make me yearn for it but sadly “No”..because i for one never find these feminism writeups appealing not to talk of a book…..you do give nice recommendations as i am preparing to give my review on Disappointment with God..”nice read”..just thought i put my opinion down while i go prepare for my review…And i love the way you pen down your reviews so systematic..
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    1. Toby
      “We Should All Be Feminists” is more of an essay than a full length novel. The way you dismiss it as “these feminism writeups” makes me feel that you’d benefit from reading it.
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  4. The Alchemist
    In an ideal world, The title of Adichie’s book would be enough and no argument would be needed. Equality of opportunity for the sexes is such a simple and obvious goal that one would think it self evident. Anyway, another argument for another place and time. On to my review.

    This month, I read “The Icarus Girl” by Helen Oyeyemi. I’ve had the book for a while but didn’t read it. Apparently she wrote it when she was 18 and preparing for her A-levels, which is an astonishing achievement in itself.

    To summarize the story, Jessamy “Jess” Harrison, is the 8 year old child of an English father and a Nigerian mother. She is precocious, has identity issues and has a hard time fitting in at school. When she visits her mother’s home in Nigeria, she meets another young girl named Titiola whom she calls TillyTilly. They become friends and TillyTilly plays with her and encourages her to do things that are increasingly troublesome. At first, TillyTilly seems imaginary but events begin to happen that cannot be explained and soon it’s impossible to tell what is real and what is not. TillyTilly begins hurting people and revealing family secrets like the fact that Jess had a twin who died at birth. The story leads up to a supernatural battle for personality between Jess, TillyTilly and what seems to be her unborn twin sister – a battle which may all just be in Jess’s head. Oyeyemi plays a lot with the literary theme of twins, duality and doubles — both real and spiritual — throughout the book.

    To evaluate the book, I’d have to say I liked it a lot in the beginning but as I went on, Oyeyemi lost me. The end especially was very unsatisfying because it leaves many unanswered questions. I see what she was trying to with the ambiguity playing into the theme but I did not like it at all. Jess’s story arc as a character is just about to be completed when the book ends and that is a very bad place to end a book – on the cusp of resolution without actually getting there. The writing is workman-like with a few very powerful and striking sentences here and there but the voice of the character is very well realized. For Oyeyemi to have written this well at 18, I must give her a lot of credit. She wrote like a professional. The book is also very clever in the way it continuously returns to the theme of twins and doubles and it also cleverly references the supernatural without actually being overt. This gives the book a haunting, creepy atmosphere but also contributes to the failure of the story to resolve in the end. (Even TillyTilly’s name is a double and I think is a slight reference to WillyWilly, the supernatural bogeyman most Nigerian children are familiar with). The middle of the story also lags a lot, with too many things happening that do not tie to the overall theme or go anywhere. You could easily cut 100 pages out of the book without really changing the impact of the story or Jess’s character arc. This is annoying because the book ends in such a rush after wasting time in the middle (Its divided into 3 parts, PArt 1 is about 20% of the total, Part 2 is about 85% and Part 3 is a measly 5%). The editor really should have spent more time guiding Oyeyemi’s story to its full potential because there was a lot of talent and thought here. It just wasn’t executed as well as it could have been. I’m interested in reading Oyeyemi’s more recent work. I’m sure she’s grown leaps and bounds.

    Still, the book is a good book and is worth a read if you have 2-4 days to kill. I managed to finish reading it in 2 days while on a trip through Vietnam so it doesn’t take much effort to get through, which is good.

    Overall, I give the book 3/5.

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    1. Ibukun Post author
      I’m just here wondering what it would take to get a 5-star rating out of you! Also think it impressive that Oyeyemi wrote this at 18. I’m 22 and I doubt I could write a book like this one.

      Adding this book to my ever-increasingly to-read pile. Thanks for the amazing review as always, Wole!

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  5. Exclusive
    Well, for this month, I have three books in mind to read. I already got them. Fingers crossed that I get to read them SOON.
    Season of Crimson blossoms by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim,
    Measuring time by Helon Habila and
    Satans and Shaitans by Obinna Udenwe.

    I’ve heard only great reviews about the three. I’ll let you know after reading them.

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  6. Damilare
    Okay……, read “Disappointment with God” for two months,Never wanting to read it on the road and February was quiet a busy one
    Ibukun had once given a review on this book in January which can be seen here http://thenakedconvos.com/1m1b-challenge-january-review/
    So you can say this is a continuation…

    After yancy wrote one of his first books “where is God when it hurts, he started getting mails from readers saying something like “Thanks for your reflections on physical pain. My situation is different as prayer doesnt seem to help my emotional pain when it comes to God, i feel something like betrayal….

    I think getting mails like this is definitely going to inspire you on what is wrong and that led to “Disappointment with God”….One of the triggers in writing the book and around which much of the book revolves is a conversation Yancey had with a friend who had come to a point where he no longer believed in God.

    Reflecting on their conversation, Yancey felt that behind what was going on were three deep large questions;

    “Is God unfair?”
    “Is God silent?”
    “Is God hidden?”

    Anyone who has ever asked these questions and hasn’t received adequate answer should read yancy’s book.

    With these three powerful deep questions that demand answers, Yancey sets the stage in the first section ” God within the shadows” he examined disappointment with the old testament…

    “God’s goal is not to overpower skeptics with a flashy miracle, He could do that in an instant if he wished. Rather He seeks to love and to be loved”

    An Israelite for 40yrs in the desert only had to look up at the cloud over the terbanacle to see if he should move or not. Pretty clear God’s will was there, what happened? 10 different times on the plains of sinai they rose up against God, even at the border of the promised land, they still longing for the good old days of slavery in Egypt.

    Yancey also cited the case of job in the old testament saying the book of job is not about suffering or where is God when it hurts? The prologue (chapter 1-2) dealt with that issue.The point was faith: where is job when it hurts? How is he responding? Same goes for Abraham and i cant help but to ask how long is waiting “for too long?” in Abrahams case.

    Yancey said “True faith does not so much attempt to manipulate God to do our own will as it does to position us to do his will. Somehow, that faith was what “God valued and it soon became clear faith was the best way for humans to express a love for God.

    Yancey asks what the life of Jesus contributes towards answering those three questions and he suggests that:
    1. Jesus, in what he said, made God’s will clearer than it had been before
    2. In Jesus, God has taken on a real, physical shape in the world
    3. Unfairness – Jesus healed some but not others, he didn’t “wipe away tears from all faces”

    This book is more of personal experiences,bible related examples leaving the reader to conclude on who has been more disappointed you or God and that all he ever want by this God is to be loved “power can do everything but the most important thing it can not control love”..
    Its a good book but you may not agree with everything in it but it gives some deep and challenging insights into some of these difficult questions which we grapple and wrestle with.

    Would i recommend this book to someone..definitely…would i love to read this book agai ..definitely

    Rating 4/5
    PS: Disappointment with God won three awards each one “Book of the year” by different bodies.

    Posted from TNC Mobile

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  7. Dr tee
    Well.. This is so cool…. I sure read more than one book a month usually, but with this challenge I’m sure it ll become a difficult task…I’m going to be reading BRIDGE TO HAVEN – FRANCINE RIVERS… Her books are awesome
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  8. Dr LOTE
    Bridge to haven – Francine rivers

    This is a tale of temptation, grace and unconditional love.. one could liken it to the story of the prodigal child but only that this has more twists and turns.

    At some point in our lives we have had the desire to be ‘somebody’ well recognised ,famous, valuable etc, this would have troubled us so much that we would have done anything to achieve this desire, not minding the price we would have to pay. And funny enough, what we search and seek for far and wide is always so so close to us, we are just either blinded by self-pity or too naive to recognize this.
    Many a times, when we would have even realized our mistakes, pride and shame then come into play, that we would rather wallow in sin, guilt and self pity than hear ‘i told you so’ or return back and ask forgiveness of those we hurt.. this shouldn’t be..
    This book makes you understand that no matter how far you strayed from the right path, God is always willing to take you back, and that no sin is too terrible or mighty enough to make Him turn His eyes from you.
    I love how Francine presented each of the characters in this book with their unique struggle; with themselves, God, life, family etc. This makes it so real, you can easily see yourself in their shoes and totally relate with their situation..
    The message was gotten and understood…
    I would rate this 5/5.
    I definitely recommend this book for those of us who have been in the darkest places of our lives, when we feel less loved, sinful, and unworthy… and generally to that person who loves to read and get inspired..

    Posted from TNC Mobile

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  9. Dr tee
    Bridge to haven – Francine rivers

    This is a tale of temptation, grace and unconditional love.. one could liken it to the story of the prodigal child but only that this has more twists and turns.

    At some point in our lives we have had the desire to be ‘somebody’ well recognised ,famous, valuable etc, this would have troubled us so much that we would have done anything to achieve this desire, not minding the price we would have to pay. And funny enough, what we search and seek for far and wide is always so so close to us, we are just either blinded by self-pity or too naive to recognize this.
    Many a times, when we would have even realized our mistakes, pride and shame then come into play, that we would rather wallow in sin, guilt and self pity than hear ‘i told you so’ or return back and ask forgiveness of those we hurt.. this shouldn’t be..
    This book makes you understand that no matter how far you strayed from the right path, God is always willing to take you back, and that no sin is too terrible or mighty enough to make Him turn His eyes from you.
    I love how Francine presented each of the characters in this book with their unique struggle; with themselves, God, life, family etc. This makes it so real, you can easily see yourself in their shoes and totally relate with their situation..
    The message was gotten and understood…
    I would rate this 5/5.
    I definitely recommend this book for those of us who have been in the darkest places of our lives, when we feel less loved, sinful, and unworthy… and generally to that person who loves to read and get inspired..

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  10. Kel
    I didn’t read any book this last 2 months because I had exams to study for.

    But all that is behind me now, thankfully! And I am starting on The Fishermen today. 😊😊

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