Quarantine has been a great opportunity for self-growth. It has been an opportunity for me to revive my old reading hobby. Growing up my dad used to love reading, especially the newspaper. I learned how to read from reading the daily newspaper. However this quarantine I embarked on a self-development reading journey. It has been amazing to self enrich through just reading self-help books, fiction to memoirs from politicians to comedians. I have learned from Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey to Amy Schumer to fictions from my hometown writers such as No Violet Bulawayo. The list is endless and goes on and on. But here’s my top 10 favorites quarantine reads.  

Year of Less by Cait Flanders

My first ever read this quarantine was The Year of Less. After having volunteered 13 months of my life to serve in the US living on a minimal stipend what no better time to learn the utmost financial discipline. In this book, Cait Flander shows us life’s best moments are those we experience when we have less and we get to appreciate life’s little things. Many times during life’s low moments we want to overcome those through costly habits, like drinking, eating out, buying clothes justifying it as shopping therapy. Cait Flanders takes us through her life how she managed to go on a 2-year shopping ban and how it became a habit and went on to live the happiest of lives. In this book, I was left questioning my purpose and wanting to carve a path and purpose for my life. As I am already living a year less through volunteering, instead of being miserable because the money isn’t enough for the extravagant things I desire, this book challenged me to seek life’s pleasures that give me meaning and purpose. 

The Path Made Clear – Oprah Winfrey

My second read was Oprah Winfrey’s Path Made Clear. As a single 29-year-old woman I am at a stage in my life where I questioned many things that happened in my life. I would compare my achievements to my mates, many at times I have felt like I haven’t accomplished enough. In this book, I found the much-needed motivation to carry on and concentrate on Concillia’s path and be fully acquainted with the person I want to be. Oprah says when we align our personalities and purpose we become “untouchable”. We become the best versions of ourselves. We should just continue telling God our dreams because he’s the ultimate dreamer. I totally agree with her when she says,

“The most amazing thing in life is catching a glimpse of what God has been dreaming for you.”

Oprah Winfrey.

The moment of witnessing your dream come true is so blissful, seeing everything unfold and falling into place. I am even having goosebumps reminiscing on those moments when I have seen my dreams come true. The moments are unexplainable and so surreal, you want to scream, you’re overjoyed, it’s overwhelming. I could go on and on. Final thoughts from this book which is something I really wanted to hear, at that moment the universe conspired to send me the message at the right time, in her parting words she says “Your life is always speaking to you. Quite nudge from deep within. This is no longer your place of belonging.” It takes a special person to accept that their purpose in a place is over and surely I need to learn this special discernment.

The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo – Amy Schumer

My third read was Amy Schumer’s, The girl with the lower back tattoo memoir, I must admit she earned herself a new fan in me. This was a reminder that in life nothing comes easy, it’s all sweat and hard work. Not forgetting that it’s even harder when you’re a woman. The playing field is not level for women. Let me not even get started with this. Did you know that in every 50% effort men put, a woman may need double even triple the effort to be at par with the male counterpart. But this is a very light-hearted funny read taking us through all her highs and lows. My main takeaway was learning to fight impulses. Many times I have failed myself because I couldn’t fight my impulses. Lesson from this book is we should never give up on our dreams we should approach them with the tenacity they deserve and one day everything will pay off. Greatest advice is fake it till you make it. You find yourself in situations where you feel, you are undeserving to be there, just remember, claim it, seize the moment and make the best of it. “Fake it till you make it babe”.  

I have always wondered how it feels like being a female politician worse off in a country like the US, in my fourth read Hillary’s Clinton What Happened didn’t disappoint. Such an exhilarating read about her race with Trump, and her journey as a politician and a first lady. At some point during this book, I aspired to work in a political campaign. The briefing meetings, the chartered plans, pulling together every single detail of a campaign. The adrenaline rush was too much, as she told her story, every move needed to be carefully calculated especially because she’s a woman. It’s painful how the world suddenly becomes extra careful because it’s a woman. From how she would dress up in the same clothes so as to get full attention and not distract her audience because of what she was wearing. The world is certainly not fair for women. However, the greatest lesson from this book is how to concede failure graciously. In my life, I have been in situations where I have been extremely disappointed by certain outcomes, and in those moments I have acted in an emotionally unintelligent way. Conceding defeat graciously is very important to clear the path for moving on. I have been in situations where I have been stuck because I didn’t graciously accept defeat, instead unnecessarily fought back wasting time. Hillary says in her book she had to learn to fight back the waves of sadness. She says we should not allow anger and disappointment to consume us nor make us cynical or cruel. My favorite quotable quotes from this book, “I prayed for help to put the sadness and disappointment of my defeat behind me, to stay hopeful and open-hearted rather than becoming cynical and bitter and to find a new purpose and start a new chapter.” When life doesn’t go according to our expectations we should always remember these kinds of prayers.  When faced with hard choices we should always remember that life is all about choices. She says “Life is full of Fridays but Sunday’s coming” Friday is referenced as the day everything fell apart in her life. 

What Happened – Hillary Rodham Clinton

“I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hate and resentment. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty even when my inner eyes still look for someone to accuse or something to call ugly. I can choose to listen to voices that forgive and to look at the faces that smile even while I still hear words of revenge and see grimaces of hatred. It’s up to us to make the choice to be grateful even when things are not going well. Not being grateful for the good things but grateful for the hard things too. To be grateful even for our flaws because, in the end, they make us stronger by giving us a chance to reach beyond our grasp”

Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Lean In , Sheryl Sandberg

As a young woman with great aspirations and ambitions and Sherly Sandburg’s, Lean In fell into my shelf as I want to learn how to balance work and life. I may not have a family but it’s important to learn how to lead effectively and still have time to yourself as a leader. As a young black African woman, by default for a long time, we have been delegated to the kitchen and all the house chores. It is still a huge task to break free from those duties even as a simple daughter because you are delegated the carer of the family, but at the same time, we have ambitions to excel like the male counterparts. Sheryl points out in her book that one of the major letdowns for women in excelling in their careers is fear. In my case, I have the fear of being a bad daughter and sister to my family. I would rather put them first before my ambitions to prove to them that I am a good daughter. She says; 

“Fear is at the root of so many barriers that women face. Fear of not being liked.Fear of making the wrong choice. Fear of drawing negative attention. Fear of overreaching. Fear of being judged. Fear of failure. And the holy trinity of fear. Fear of being a bad mother/ wife/ sister/ daughter 

Sheryl Sandberg

Without fear, women can pursue professional success and personal fulfillment and freely choose one or the other or both. She says women suffer from a “Tiara syndrome”, the most common way people give up their power is thinking they don’t have any. Do not wait for power to be offered like that tiara it might never materialize, anyway who wears a tiara in a jungle gym. Again just like Amy Schumer she says we women should learn to fake it till they feel it. It’s a jungle out here we should be bold and break the glass ceiling besides, “Fortune favors the bold, Proceed and be bold” 

For the love of money, my sixth read just needed to be how I can make money right. Money makes the world go round. Jen Sincero You are a badass at making money is a good guide on how to start out of nothing and be the greatest you can ever be. We should go after our dreams with the tenacity they deserve. I always wished to develop that passion that makes me force my way into achieving my dreams, trust me in this book I really got armed with how to go about realizing my dreams and most importantly make money. Jan Sincero says we shouldn’t wait till we hit rock bottom to start crawling out of your hole and turn things around instead all we have to do is make the decision. We should focus on that which makes us feel good and that we shall attract. She goes on to say that coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous. The universe will match whatever frequency you are vibrating at, so if you feel low all the time, the universe will detect that but if you are happy and have a positive outlook, good outcome you will get. One thing I love about this book, as a woman of faith, it takes into consideration faith, thoughts, and beliefs and their role is our success. Again we are faking it till we make it. She says love yourself be grateful for who you are becoming and believe what you desire is here and available to you. 

You are a Badass at Making Money, Jen Sincero

Sharing is caring, here are a few nuggets from this gold mine by Jen Sincero,  

  • Radically change your reality
  • Be on the lookout for an opportunity 
  • Ask and it shall be given,
  • Get quite and get in the zone and clear the clatter in your brain
  • Act as if – fake it till you make it
  • Upgrade your environment 
  • Make a vision board
  • Surround yourself with people who think the way you want to think.
  • Demand of the universe to connect you with them
  • Love yourself unless you have a better idea
  • Just see what you can get away with, life is ridiculous. Life is but a game. 
  • Lose track of time. Figure out things that you get lost in. Make doing things you love a priority
  • Love yourself and the bluebirds of happiness will be your backup singers
  • Thoughts and beliefs detect your reality 
Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, Lois P. Frankel

When they said “Nice Girls don’t get the corner office” I got scared, because I believe I am extremely nice, in fact at times I am unnecessarily nice. I need to unlearn most of the mistakes that girls make as described by Lois P Frankel in her book Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. While reading this book I realized how much of our upbringing, especially as black African women become our saboteurs as we try to advance our careers. We are taught to be caring, meek, and never talk back and we apologize unnecessarily. I  am guilty of always apologizing even if I have no business apologizing. I am also guilty of overemphasizing my femininity, apparently, that diminishes your credibility, so ladies the love of these lipsticks in boardrooms must fall. While putting your lipstick decisions will be made that relegate you to the backseat.  As we climb up the ladder, we should not allow people to call us by our first names as it relegates you to a child-like status, it should be a combination of first and last names so that you are moved to adulthood. Lois again warns us against always volunteering to make coffee, I know most of you just like me are guilty of this. If invited to sit at the table Lois says we should graciously accept the opportunity and accept the compliments without relegating the efforts of other colleagues. As uncomfortable as it is, this book recommends women to tackle patriarchal society head-on and secure seats for women. 

In order to move on in life and be successful in whatever we do, we need to learn how to forgive. I never knew how to forgive till the day I got deeply hurt and needed to learn how to forgive. I always told myself that i knew how to forgive but when the time came for me to forgive I discovered it is a difficult process that requires a lot of effort. Without forgiving you can never function, the burden becomes heavy by the day such that overshadows all your perspectives in life. You may run and try and avoid whatever that hurt but without facing it head on you can never move on. I almost destroyed myself because I couldn’t forgive.   The Power of Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping became my go to guide on how to forgive. It was the most uncomfortable book to read, because you work through your situation throughout the book using the worksheet. You are literally face to face with your beast.

The Power of Radical Forgiveness, Colin Tipping

Throughout the book, I was a moment of self-introspection, at times I would put it down just to catch a breath, cry, and almost put it aside because it was hard to work through all the activities. But I needed to release my burden was my priority as it was getting heavier by the day so quitting was not an option. Indeed this book re-framed my perception of the world and my place in it, unburdened me from the past, filled with peace, and liberated my energy, unfolding my highest purpose. Through using this book, I realized there are actually some things that also needed to be released from my life so that I get the peace of mind that I needed to progress. I had become so vindictive that I even forgot to count my blessings. I highly recommend this book when you struggle with forgiving and in need of your spiritual healing. Life is more than carrying heavy burdens. It takes time but when the burden becomes so heavy you want to release it immediately. 

Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama

My inquisitive and curious nature would not let me scroll past memoirs, especially from politicians. I just had to sneak in “ Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama just so I know how this American with African roots ended up on the throne of the best of the world. So I would recommend this to anyone who wants to know about Obama’s upbringing and his quest to finding self -belonging. In describing his different worlds he had to learn to adjust in both worlds he says “I learned to slip back and forth between my black and white worlds, understanding that each possessed its own language and customs and structures of meaning.” The book has another perspective of race, especially now as America grapples with systematic racism and inequality which was a problem since time immemorial. Obama also brings to light the inheritance dynamics in the African context. 

We Need New Names, NoViolet Bulawayo

My last recommendation for today is “ We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo, an interesting fiction about a girl who traveled to America from Zimbabwe. I could relate Darling’s story as I am that girl who had traveled after growing up in the township eating all kinds of fruits from our neighbor’s trees. I was lucky I didn’t need to steal because our compound had all kinds of fruits from mangoes to guavas, you name them. One of the quotes in this book, is the reality of Zimbabwe, a country that has turned against its children as narrated in this quote,

“Look at the children of the land leaving in droves, leaving their own land with bleeding wounds on their bodies and shock on their faces and blood in their hearts and hunger in their stomachs and grief in their footsteps. Leaving their mothers and fathers and children behind, leaving their umbilical cords underneath the soil, leaving the bones of their ancestors in the earth, leaving everything that makes them who and what they are, leaving because it is no longer possible to stay. They will never be the same again because you cannot be the same once you leave behind who and what you are, you just cannot be the same.”

This list of books that i have read goes on and on some that i have found interesting that i would recommend are as follows, 

  • Untamed by Glennon Doyle – to be successful you need to find yourself, be BRAVE, hard choices and success go hand in hand. 
  • Girl Stop Apologising by Rachel Hollis – at times embracing yourself is hard, a great self-help book on how to be the best version of yourself “sis”. 
  • Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton – a journey of Hillary Clinton’s days as the Secretary of State and all the world’s politics with the US
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by  Ijeoma Oluo- a good read if you want to understand what racism and LGBTs how it affects black people, including the subtle tones of racism that some may not even realize is racist. 
  • First We Make the Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wilson – a journey of how to deal with anxiety. Anxious people are special people. This book is about learning to leave with your anxiety.