maktabani ’19


1. Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi.


‘Loss’ is a notion. No more than a thought. Which one forms or one doesn’t. With words. Such that one cannot lose, nor ever say he has lost, what he does not permit to exist in his mind.

2. Born on a Tuesday by Elnathan John.


Sometimes the people we call wicked are just foolish and while it is easy to repent being wicked, it is hard to stop being foolish.

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.


Poverty doesn’t give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor.


4. Life of Pi by Yann Martel.


If you stumble at mere believability, what are you living for? Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer. What is your problem with hard to believe?

5. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.


You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.

6. Still Me by Jojo Moyes.


It’s been a long time since I believed love solved everything.

7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.


We accept the love we think we deserve.

8. One Day by David Nicholls.


Be nice. But not too nice. Don’t make a religion out of it, niceness.

9. The Art of Worldly Wisdom by Balthasar Gracian.


Never sin against your own happiness in order to please the person who counsels you and has nothing at stake in the matter.



10. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.


11. Reread Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin.


People are always saying, we must wait, we must wait. What are they waiting for? And when you have waited—has it made you sure?


12. Talking to My Daughter About the Economy by Yanis Varoufakis.


To have any say in humanity’s future, you cannot afford to roll your eyes and switch off the moment words like ‘economy’ or ‘market’ are mentioned.

13. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.



14. The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo.


We see everything through the filter of our own desires and regrets, hopes and fears.

15. On Black Sisters Street by Chika Unigwe.


You have to save yourself from drowning before you start promising to save others.

16. Reread: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.


There should be no room in your life for regret. If in the moment of doing you felt clarity, you felt certainty, then why feel regret later?

16. Reread: Stay With Me by Ayòbámi Adébáyò.


Sometimes faith is easier than doubt.

17. Bed of Procrustes by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.


Just as dyed hair makes older men less attractive, it is what you do to hide your weaknesses that makes them repugnant.


18. Under the Udala Trees Chinelo Okparanta.


If God dishes you rice in a basket do not wish for soup.

19. 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson.


People often get basic psychological questions backwards. Why do people take drugs? Not a mystery. It’s why they don’t take them all the time that’s the mystery. Why do people suffer from anxiety? That’s not a mystery. How is that people can ever be calm? There’s the mystery. We’re breakable and mortal. A million things can go wrong, in a million ways. We should be terrified out of our skulls at every second. But we’re not.

20. What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah.


The problem with those who don’t know real power is that they do not know real power.

21. Questions for Ada by Ijeoma Umebinyuo.


You must remember how to sing yourself away from sorrows, how to wash yourself till the sadness weeps out of your body. You must remember to hold yourself on days that feel so empty the pain echoes.

22. Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor.


Wounds are embroidered with soft songs, spiced prayer, so tell me, what dares barricade a heart from the oil of song?

23. Season of Crimson Blossoms by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim.


We are like clothes, you understand. We get rumpled, and creased and torn, sometimes irreparably. Some of us are stitched up, patched up, others are discarded. Some clothes are fortunate. Others are not. They are born into misfortune and ink spills and whatnots, you understand?

24. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong.


Whatever you want to call your god should say Yes over and over, in cycles, in spirals, with no other reason but to hear itself exist. Because love, at its best, repeats itself. Shouldn’t it?


25. On Writing by Charles Bukowski.


If the world changes at all it will be beca.use the poor are fucking too much and that there are too many fucking poor and the few rich power boys will get scared because if you get enough poor and they are poor enough not all the propaganda newspapers in the world will be able to tell them how lucky they are and that poverty is holy and that starvation is good for the soul.

26. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.


Among the poor, there was no doubt that instability fostered ingenuity, but over time the lack of a link between effort and result could become debilitating.

27. Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado.


You lose the most interesting parts of yourself to the demands of survival.

28. The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.


Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people.

29. Love is a Dog from Hell by Charles Bukowski.


And if you have the ability to love,

love yourself first.


30. Another Country by James Baldwin.


Don’t lose heart, dear ones—don’t lose heart. Don’t let it make you bitter. Try to understand. Try to understand. The world’s already bitter enough, we got to try to be better than the world.

31. If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin.


I know I can’t help you very much right now – God knows what I wouldn’t give if I could. But I know about suffering; if that helps. I know that it ends. I ain’t going to tell you no lies, like it always ends for the better. Sometimes it ends for the worse. You can suffer so bad that you can be driven to a place where you can’t ever suffer again: and that’s worse…But you’re strong. Lean on your strength.

31. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.


Renewal becomes impossible if one supposes things to be constant that are not—safety, for example, or money, or power. One clings then to chimeras, by which one can only be betrayed, and the entire hope—the entire possibility—of freedom disappears.

32. Yes! 50 Secrets From the Science of Persuasion by Noah J. Goldstein, Robert Cialdini, and Steve J. Martin.


33. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.


Life is full of things we cannot control so we must adapt. We have to survive.


34. Just Above My Head by James Baldwin.


I prefer sinners and madmen, who can learn, who can change, who can teach.

35. Sex Power Money by Sara Pascoe.


Lust without empathy is dangerous.

36. Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid.


There’s a reason prophets perform miracles: language lacks the power to describe faith.

37. The Third Wave by Steve Case.


It is no longer acceptable for businesses to see the world purely through the lens of profits and customers; there is also a patriotic duty to make our country stronger, our people more empowered, and the world better. That is as much a responsibility of business as it is of government.

38. SuperFreakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt.


Mastery arrives through deliberate practice. Deliberate practice has three key components: setting specific goals; obtaining immediate feedback; and concentrating as much on technique as on outcome.

39. Reread Sula by Toni Morrison.


Lonely, ain’t it?
Yes, but my lonely is mine. Now your lonely is somebody else’s. Made by somebody else and handed to you. Ain’t that something? A secondhand lonely.


40. Choke by Chuck Palahniuk.


Every addiction is just a way to treat the same problem. Drugs or overeating or alcohol or sex, it’s all just another way to find peace. To escape what we know.

41. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk.


One minute was enough; a person had to work hard for it, but a minute of perfection was worth the effort. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection.

42. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.


Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

43. Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon.


There are too many idiots in this world. And having said it, I have the burden of proving it.

44. Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics by Richard Thaler.



45. Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much by Eldar Shafir and Sendhil Mullainathan.


To be free from a scarcity trap, it is not enough to have more resources than desires on average. It is as important to have enough slack for handling the big shocks that may come one’s way at any moment.

46. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely.


In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is a great deal of difference.

47. Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone by James Baldwin.


Throw everything out of your mind, eat your supper, read a little, sleep. The world will still be here when you wake up, and there’ll still be everything left to do.