World Book Day Recommendations: “Five Books I Love” — Jaachi Anyatonwu
For World Book Day, 2021 and #365DaysOfBookOclock, we asked Biafran poet, Jaachi Anyatonwu to share with us five books that have either shaped his writing or he generally loves.
Jaachi Anyatonwu is a poet, editor, and publisher living in the suburbs of Aba. He is the author of numerous poetry chapbooks and collections, and the Editor-In-Chief of Poemify Publishing Inc. Jaachi is passionate about discovering new voices and mentoring emerging poets. He is also a fierce advocate for the boy child and sexually molested. Follow him @JaachiAnyatonwu and jaachiwrites.com.
1. There Was A Country by Chinua Achebe
I’ve made many references to this book whenever and wherever the history of Nigeria is being discussed. What I find most interesting about this book is when I initially bought it and read it, ‘There Was A Country' silenced the not-so-friendly reviews it got from naysayers who think Achebe should not have written the book. I had heard lots of glowing recommendations too, but the book left me cold and angry at the same time. It appears I was not ready for it. Yet.
Then one day, I picked it up again and the sun started shining down on me like it rose that day just for me.
I’m grateful for 'There Was A Country', because it pointed out to me the resistance and a determination to survive of a people who were heartlessly disdained for reasons that, like a basket, holds no water, and the detrimental effect it has on all of us who today are testaments of what was fought for but never gotten- the country that was, is no more, and perhaps might resurrect, someday.
2. Anger Is A Choice by Tim Lahaye & Bob Phillips
Anger is something I used to struggle with. Growing up, I always had this emotion threatening to explode out of control, a kind of anger that made me feel intimidated and afraid. But, with the help of 'Anger Is a Choice' I understood where anger comes from, how it shows or doesn't show, and what I can do about it to keep it in check or just blow it off like flickers of flames on birthday candles.
I read this book in one day. It was written in such a way that was easy to read and simple to understand. It opened my eyes to the fact that there are many forms of anger: frustration, criticism, irritability, etc. So, the next time I feel frustrated, I ask myself... "What are you angry about right now...?"
Anger is an emotion that God gave us. It can be good or bad, a blessing or a curse. We have the power to choose which one will it be. I would recommend reading this book anytime, any day, anywhere.
3. Coffee, an anthology of poems by different poets, complied by Jide Badmus
One poem (by Jide Badmus) got more than fifty poets pregnant. 'Coffee' is a collection of poems centred on love as a significant part, being almost the nucleus of human life: everyone at some point in their life no matter the restraint and hindering environmental factors gets to exhibit their emotional nature. So, when we are talking Coffee, we are discussing an inevitable part of our lives.
I’m grateful for 'Coffee' because it is a brilliant piece of poetry collection garnished with much imagery, word play. I love how the poems leap out of the pages in full colour and that sweet creamy aroma of coffee black. It is the best muse for other poets. The experience of 'Coffee' was like an intellectual orgy. It’s a confirmation that literature can be a tool to plant ideas that would change societal mindsets.
4. The Principles And Benefits Of Change by Dr. Myles Munroe
Change comes to all of us-whether we prepare for it or not. How we deal with inevitable change-no matter what the source-determines whether it will ultimately be a positive or negative force in our lives. 'The Principles and Benefits of Change' by Dr. Myles Munroe is a manual for times of change.
I’m grateful for 'The Principles and Benefits of Change' because it showed me how to experience confidence and freedom in the uncertainty of a changing world. I read 'The Principles and Benefits of Change' in 2016 when I was battling depression and a terminal lung disease (which of course is healed). It was a timely read, opened the eyes of my mind to life realities that I have been blind to. It revealed how to initiate change and how to use any change for my benefit, enabling me to fulfil my God-given purpose.
5. Our Numbered Days by Neil Hilborn
I am a page poet, but I have bottomless deep love for spoken word poetry. So, like many, I discovered Neil Hilborn through his viral video 'OCD'. I stuck around, watched and read more of his work, and decided it would be worth buying his book, 'Our Numbered Days'. I got this book because I’ve seen promotions galore on it from poets and let me tell you, this book is a waterfall of comedic heartbreak that will take you on a journey into both realism and fantasy.
So far, I love this book. It has quite a few of his 'internet' famous poems like "OCD" and "Joey", but there are more than a few surprises to be found inside. Neil Hilborn has an excellent imagination to correctly portray how it is to live with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). There are poems that are extreme. When I read ‘Our Numbered Days’, it was like Neil Hilborn went inside my head and pulled it out and wrote my feelings and emotions and thoughts on paper.
What I love most about 'Our Numbered Days' is the fact that the poems are not sunshine and puppies, blueberries and sweetness, orgasms and hulala.
Nope! A lot of the poems are dark and are biographical, which means the desire to commit suicide is brought up many times. While I like the poems, I wouldn't classify almost any of the poems as the kind from which one could walk away feeling tingly good with a smile. The poems didn't make me feel good. They made me laugh, cry, and ponder my existence. They also made me think, took me to some dark places, funnily though, I did like those dark places.
World Book Day Recommendations is a series of book recommendations made by African contemporary writers for World Book Day, 2021 and Book O’Clock’s anniversary.