It’s that time of the year when I write a piece on how the year has gone from me on the reading front. This was something I started in 2019 which was the year I started writing in long form on this blog. That piece in 2019 was titled Read More in 2020. In it I shared tips on how I rekindled and sustained my reading habit. If you want to “read more in 2022” I think it’s one would find very useful.
In 2020, I wrote a more reflective piece titled, My 2020 in reading I reflected on how my year had gone on the reading front and also shared my plan for 2021 which was to read less books but make my reading more topical. I read 41 books in total in 2020 but decided that it was more valuable to immerse myself in certain topics which meant my reading would go deeper rather than wider.
So how has that gone,you might ask? On reflection,very well. I started the year not really concerned about a number but also knowing that what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get managed. So I set myself a goal to read at least 2 new books every month. This would translate to 24 books by the end of the year. I was specific about new books as I knew I would be re-reading some books I had read in previous years. At the time of writing this (13 days to go) I have read 37 new books. I also re-read 4 books which more or less takes me to my 2020 number of 41.It certainly was not my intention to “smash a target” but reading has become an activity that is enjoyable. And what happens when you enjoy an activity? You do it for the sake of it and not necessarily to score a point or get validation. The value becomes intrinsic and the process matters much more than the outcome.
So as I was thinking of what to share as my end of the year reading reflection, I settled on sharing which books had the most impact on me. And when I say impact, I mean the books that left something with me.As the quote above states the books you read will change your life even though you will never remember all you read.It was really hard to narrow down my choices as I truly believe l learn something from every book I read(including fiction).
The books I will be sharing either spurred to me action in varying ways or fundamentally changed the way I thought about certain subjects. Some of them also gave me words that I didn’t realise I needed. Words and stories are how I process the world and these books gave me both an inroad and an outlet for my thoughts and ideas.
So here they go in no particular order:
The first book on my list is Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela . It was a book I read with Chapters Bookclub community early on in the year. It is his autobiography that charted his life from early childhood to the years he spent in prison and subsequent release into post apartheid South Africa. My central learning from this book was that the struggle for the actualisation of a principle, idea or a struggle is often underpinned by long term endeavour. Long term change rarely happen overnight and it takes a certain ethos to believe in something so deeply that you are prepared to wait years for it to be manifested. Consistency and effort are needed in equal measure.It was a really chunky book but one I would recommend to anyone who loves biographies or learning about the lives of influential figures. You can buy the book here.
Of this our country is an essay collection written by several acclaimed authors of Nigerian descent. It was the book that I never knew I needed to describe my very complicated feelings and relationship with my beloved Nigeria. I read this on Kindle and at some point I thought Kindle would stop me highlighting. The use of words and imagery transported me back to the sights, smells, customs, idiosyncrasies and all things that I both love and hate about being Nigerian.It made me reassess a lot of things I held true and is a book that I will definitely be reading again. Highly recommended for any lover of Nigeria and particularly Nigerian literature. You can buy the book here.
Every good endeavour by Tim Keller was such a pivotal read for me. I have always wanted to read a book that gave me some insights on how my faith practically plays out in how I work.It gave me a much needed balance on my view of work and the accord God places on all types of work. My biggest lesson or mindset change from it is that work for a Christian is not a curse to be endured. It was in Gods origins plan for the world and was actually Gods first assignment to Man.It also finally shattered the myth that the only work God cares about is “work in the vineyard/church building”. It was such a great read with lots of really great lessons and quotes. It is one I would highly recommend for any Christian who wants to live out their faith in the marketplace. You can buy the book here.
This one touched me in way that I can’t even begin to describe. It’s a book written by Chinamanda Ngozi Adichie about the impact the loss of her father had on her. She gave the words to describe the feelings I felt 13 years ago and every day since then about losing my father. She describes the feelings, emotions and contradictions of loss and grief. The mix of sadness and crying interspersed with smiles and laughter of fond memories. Chinamanda really does have a way with words and this book gave me an inroad to reflect on what it means to lose a parent. I almost felt bad for enjoying it too much. Some people might find it hard to read because of the theme but I found it really comforting and is one I would highly recommend for anyone searching for a language for grief. You can buy the book here.
Leadership books can be a bit hit and miss for me.Frankly,I find some of them really un-relatable as they do not talk about leaders that sound,look or think like me. I would have thought the same about this book as it talks about leading a submarine warship. But it is truly one of the most relatable leadership books I have ever read. My key lesson from this book was the leader-leader model that the author goes into alot of detail to illustrate. A good leader empowers those they lead by giving them the ability to lead themselves by fostering a culture of learning, accountability and the willingness to learn from mistakes. I learnt a lot from this book and it is one I would recommend to anyone who aspires to lead others in some form or the other. You can buy the book here.
One of the things that confounded me the most when I became a Christian was the blanket good natured advice of “just read your Bible”. It’s advise I have also given but one I realise could be better tailored as “reading the Bible” can be a daunting prospect. With time I have made into a habit that has endured but reading this book gave a me a framework and context that I think a lot of Christians struggle with when it comes to studying scripture. The author shares really useful tips on what she calls the 5Ps of studying the Bible ( Purpose,Perspective,Patience, Process and Prayer). This book makes me the cut as this framework is part of how I now study scripture. The book is called Woman of the word and was written with women in mind. That said it is a book I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a very practical guide on studying the Bible. You can buy the book here.
The amount of change that we have had to navigate in the last two years has been astronomical. It’s one of the reasons most people have found these times challenging as humans only have so much capacity when it comes to change. This book provides simple,straightforward and practical approaches to managing change in organisations. Like I always say though, I think a lot of organisational change frameworks can be applied broadly in other walks of life. It made the list as I have actually applied some of the frameworks and approaches professionally. Apart from working in change/transformation, change is a topic that I am always reading about.This year has also been a year of massive changes and transitions for me and the lessons from this book proved so valuable in navigating those transitions. It’s a book I would highly recommend to anyone who considers themselves a Change agent in whatever capacity. You can buy the book here.
This book makes the list as it made me re- evaluate what matters. It made me question where and what my validation comes from. It shattered beliefs and made me realise that my worth or significance was not something I had to perform or earn from God. Most importantly it pointed me to scripture which is always a winner for me when I read Christian literature. It gave insights through scripture that point to the fact that the basis of my faith is acceptance through Jesus Christ and that I do not need to perform or “earn” my stripes. Good works are as a result of the grace I have been given and not a way to earn grace. It was another one that I read with the Chapters book club and the feedback from everyone was phenomenal. It impacted me so much that I took a whole month off social media.This is not saying social media is bad but I had to reassess why and what I used it for. This book is one I would recommend to any Christian. You can buy the book here.
As noted earlier these books made the cut but there are so many other books that were absolutely phenomenal. There are some others not listed here that i have reviewed on this blog or on my YouTube channel. See the full list of the books I read(and reading as I have a few to get through before the 31st) – Oyinda’s 2021 reads.You can also check out the book reviews on my YouTube channel Book Reviews by Oyindamola.
As we round off the year, I look back with a lot of gratitude. Mixed in with the gratitude is also some exhaustion and I am really looking forward to a time of solitude, rest and recharging. This will probably be my last piece of long form writing for the year so using this medium to thank you for engaging and reading my thoughts. Thank you very much for your support and I truly do not take it for granted.
Here’s wishing you a very merry Christmas and a healthy,prosperous,peaceful 2022.
***please note that the book links above are affiliate links that earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you***