Very often, we read books. Seldom, we find great books worth sharing.
This title has definitely earned a trophy for being one of the most cliché in human existence. More specifically, in the circles of book lovers. Nevertheless, it captures the truth of the impact the books which I am about to share with you have had in my life.
Growing up (which I still am), I knew there was so much I didn’t know (see what I did there? No?). There were too few people around me who pointed me in the direction I planned to go. Too few answers to the very many questions I asked myself constantly and, sometimes, also asked others.
I was lost, until books found me. Yes, books always find the reader…always.
I am 18 now, and I have read an ‘okay’ number of books, but there are some which have stood out for me. These books have evolved and broadened my thinking and understanding of myself, society, and some very abstract topics.
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey
This book opened my eyes to a variety of ways to better utilise the resources I have to get those I want. My favourite chapter in this book is “Begin with the End in Mind” which speaks about having an idea of your destination in mind first before beginning the journey (common sense, right?…wait till you read this book if you haven’t). If you’re looking for a self development book which critically discusses various frameworks to help you discover, better utilise, and develop yourself to become more effective, read this book.
“The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene
This book taught me about how much the art of politicking is entrenched into our everyday lives. In a world saturated with the love of power, understanding how best to navigate through ‘power webs’ is a definite prerequisite. There were obviously a lot of laws in this book that I did not personally agree with. This is why I recommend that you read selectively and not absorb all its teaching hook, line, and sinker. It’s a controversial read, but if you’re clear on “why” you’re reading it, you’d love it.
“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
I read this book in a time of chaos, in between messed up flight arrangements on my way from Mauritius to Tanzania for a youth leadership conference. This book brought me calm. It spoke about the vicissitudes a young man went through on the path towards discovering and fulfilling his destiny. At so many points, I closed the book to fully absorb the wisdom in it; sometimes, I just screamed out loud as some of the words got into my spirit (no hyperbole). You need to read this book to get what I’m saying.
“Are We The Turning Point Generation?” by Chude Jideonwo
There has been a lot of talk around the need for the rise of a new generation of leaders who would transform Africa. Fred Swaniker calls them “Generation 4”. This book is something like a roadmap for such leaders to find out for themselves what their role in shaping the continent should be. Even though it is heavily centered on Nigeria, I believe that any African or even any young person would resonate with it. Prior to reading this book, I had never heard of Chude Jideonwo…ever. As soon as I was done, I rooted him out. Thanks to some prompt referrals from friends at Chocolate City Group, I was able to meet this great man.
“Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, M.D.
I love this book because of how simply it explains one of the most complex, yet ubiquitous, subjects—CHANGE. In the world today which hails rapid growth, innovation, technological advancement, economic development, academic distinction, etc. one thing which has proven constant is change. Things are changing quickly. In the world of business, especially, those who are unable to plan for change or, at least, respond to change are left behind. This book shows how best to react when ‘someone moves your cheese’. It teaches you that change is not the enemy, rather your inability to react accordingly to it is.
“When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi
I first learnt about this book from a review Bill Gates wrote about it on LinkedIn. I knew I had to read it. Written by a phenomenal young man as he sought the meaning of life while fighting cancer in the face of imminent death, this book got me hooked. It taught me the need to appreciate and enjoy life as short as it may be. In the end, we are only remembered for the impact we had in the lives of others, not our laurels. If you’re also looking to find meaning in life, or you simply want to understand death a bit more, this book is for you.
“Brian & Ethan: Rude Awakenings” by Martin Gitehi
Very often, we shut down the topic of homosexuality without keeping our minds open to understand the humanity in sexuality. This book does justice to that by showing the emotional turmoil that gay people go through even while they are still closeted. It perfectly shows how painful ‘coming out’ is, especially in an African setting. It shows the beauty of love shared by two young Kenyan guys—Brian and Ethan—and the struggles they went through as they fought for their love. If you’re willing to open your mind to better understand the LGBTQ+ community, this book is a must.