Navigating life as a woman in the world today is interesting. From Nigeria to Timbuktu, it’ll amaze you how similar all our experiences are. Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their experiences on everything from sex to politics right here.

Photo by Samson Okeniyi

Where are you getting all this money to invest in books, please?

I started small, in 2010, when I was in secondary school. Thrift books here; cheap romance novels there. Now, I add “buy a book or two” to my monthly budget. I usually spend about ₦10 – 20k, depending on other expenses for that month.

But when I was younger, I used to steal library books. My secondary school library suffered in particular. I stole Shakespeare’s complete works and Hamlet from there, among other titles. They still have the blue library stamp on their title pages to remind me God is watching. I’m sorry.

Ah. But how did your love for books start?

I can’t tell. I’ve always loved books. My mum invested in beautiful books like Pocahontas and those Ladybird fairy tale books when I was just learning to read. She’d read me to sleep every other night. 

I also spent my entire childhood reading every Enid Blyton book ever. I loved her special book series the most: Famous Five, Secret Seven, Naughtiest Girl, and my favourite, Malory Towers. Those stories made me love fiction and world-building so much that I spent a long time daydreaming about people and stories I’d made up, especially on long car rides.

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Photo credit:  Etsy and IndiaMart

Tell me you’re a writer now

Nope. At least, not professionally.

When I told my parents I wanted to write for a living, they made me study law. I did and hated it at first, but as I became more mature, I thought about it. What would I have studied instead? Mass communications, journalism? English and literature didn’t seem practical for finding work in Nigeria. And it’s not like Nigerian schools offer creative writing as a course. It’s still new in western countries. 

Getting to know mass comm students in my level, I wasn’t excited by what they were doing. So I didn’t think I would’ve preferred to study that. Now that I’ve graduated, I wish I’d considered a course like theatre arts. But I never thought about it in school.

Why theatre arts?

It’s the only course (in Nigerian schools) I’m aware of that deals with fiction. It focuses on acting it out, but somewhere in the coursework, there’s writing too. It would’ve been easier to get into Nollywood as a screenwriter, or any other industry-related job, with a theatre arts degree. At least, based on my inexperienced calculations. 

Now, I know you don’t need a specific degree to be a writer or part of the creative industry. But it would’ve been great to study something I’m passionate about.

Got it. You said you don’t write professionally. Do you write for yourself?

Yes. I have so many unfinished manuscripts. My dream is that I’ll finally finish my current manuscript, get it published in the US or UK and blow so I can finally quit my day job. From then, I’ll write more and more stories because I have so many in my head.

What stories do you have in your head?

What I’m working on right now is a complex murder mystery, set in Unilag, that’ll be short and sweet. My research shows it’s easier to get publishers to buy into a standard-length story for your debut novel. That’s about 80k words. 

But once that’s out of the way — and hopefully, successful — I’ll hit them with a book series that’ll cover Nigeria’s speculative past, imagining that colonisation never happened. I don’t want to give too much away. It’s a bit Game of Thrones-ish but also very original, I promise. I’ve also written an outline for a sci-fi story set in a race-less, state-less, pre-Tower of Babel world. I won’t lie, it’s such an intimidating storyline I don’t know if I have the range to write.

I’m in awe of these ideas, TBH. Now curious about your day job

I work in a marketing role for a popular music streaming platform. They pay moderately well, but the work is uninspiring, and the hours are crazy. However, I’m grateful for it. 

My first job was as an associate in a law firm that was as toxic as you can imagine. Everyone thought I was crazy to leave because it was a good place for “upwardly mobile” lawyers. But after a year, I couldn’t accept that my boss would scream at me at the slightest provocation, make me feel like I could never do anything right and I was undeserving of a salary. 

She’d even say I should be paying her instead, for having to spoon feed me. A part of me believed her, even though I also knew I was doing my very best. The emotional struggle was a lot, and I could never find the inspiration to daydream or write.

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I’m glad you stepped back from that. Do you remember when you bought your first book?

Yes. Sometime in 2010, when I was in SS 1. I was so proud of myself. 

By then, I’d graduated from Enid Blyton books to Harlequin romance, which I got into when I found one coverless book at my family friend’s house when I was in JSS 2. Now, I know why the cover was torn off; those covers were racy. 

I read at least 20 Harlequin books before my best friend introduced me to more solid romance books by Nora Roberts and Catherine Coulter, and I’d borrow them from her. I can’t remember how she had so many. She had an elder sister who’d just started uni so maybe it was through her. 

Anyway, guess what the first book I bought in SS 1 was? The Duke and I by Julia Quinn.

Sounds familiar

The book inspired the entire Bridgerton series. I remember when everyone was talking about the new show Netflix was doing, the name and plotlines sounded so familiar. When I put two and two together, I went to my carton of old books to dig out my copy. Lo and behold, rats had eaten several pages. My copy now starts at page 165 and ends at 256.

Hot tears

I saved up for a whole week to buy that book when I found out a supermarket on my street had decided to stock romance novels. They never did after that. I bought at least half of them, about five books, over the course of the year. 

Romance novels formed my worldview when I was growing up. I loved everything about the stories: the loves at first sight, “I can’t survive if you’re not with me” trope, annoying conflicts that somehow led to happily ever afters. I loved the historical, contemporary, fantasy, all the sub-genres. I especially loved it when the author created a series that told the children, grandchildren and other family members’ love stories. 

I’m still a hopeless romantic, which is probably why I’ve never had a boyfriend. I’m waiting for “hearts and flowers”, millionaires with grand gestures, passion and devotion. LOL.

You speak in the past tense. Do you not love romance novels anymore?

I still do, but I’ve outgrown novels that are strictly romance. I now appreciate books that are deeper and more realistic. It helps when they have a romantic subplot sha. 

Over time, I went from romance novels to YA fiction like the Twilight Saga and Divergent Series in SS 3. I read them all. I couldn’t stand John Grisham’s books, but I absolutely loved Dan Brown and Mario Puzo because of how skilled they are at weaving intrigues that keep you reading. 

But in uni, I got into literary fiction — Chimamanda, Kazuo Ishiguro, Donna Tartt, Hanya Yanagihara — and that’s when the obsession really started.

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These books took me into the world of real fiction. I saw how writers could weave magic out of words. Apart from the plot, these writers write commentary about the human condition so well, it makes you think deeply about different experiences. 

Reading books became less about escaping reality and more about educating myself about human psychology. It’s fascinating. In uni, I mostly read e-books I got for free, but around my final year, I started thinking about owning copies of these books I considered masterpieces.

How many books do you have now?

324. And counting.

Wow. How?

First, I got the popular books by the authors I mentioned above. Then I thought of having a collection. I wanted copies of all the book series I loved, so I found this vendor on IG that sold good quality thrift books. 

I ordered the Fifty Shades books just before I started law school in 2017, and the joy of having them in my hands was so pure I wanted to recreate it. I got the Twilight books next.  

During NYSC orientation camp in 2018, I got four of Dan Brown’s books — The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, Inferno and The Lost Symbol — from mammy market. My mum already had Digital Fortress, so I obtained that for my growing library. Now, I’m looking to get Origin and the boring Deception Point to complete the collection.

Crazy. But I still don’t see how you have over 300 books 

Well, notice how I want to get Dan Brown’s Deception Point even though I think it’s boring. I’m obsessed with the idea of buying every single book published by the authors I love. I currently have all of Chimamanda’s books, but I only like Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus. Yet when I saw the cute ankara book set she released for Nigeria in 2019, I simply couldn’t look away. And everything went for ₦10k. Can you imagine? 

Photo source: Roving Heights

No. Sounds like a great bargain

Another example: even though I’ve only read The Godfather and The Last Don, I’ve been slowly collecting all Mario Puzo’s books. And I got the A Song of Ice and Fire book set when I got into Game of Thrones during COVID. 

Because my collection has to be perfect, I want to add the classics. I started with Chinua Achebe’s trilogy, which cost me serious money when I first started working in 2019. Then the book behind my favourite movie of all time, Gone With The Wind. Next, I got the book the heroine in Fifty Shades Trilogy references a lot: Tess of the D’urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. I remember when my thrift books plug stocked a copy. I almost fainted. 

Roving Heights also stocks beautiful vintage classics. From them, I got Anna Karenina as a 2022 Christmas present to myself because I loved the 2012 movie adaptation a lot. This reminds me, some years ago, a friend gifted me an old but well-kept copy of Pride and Prejudice, so now, I want the remaining Austens. 

Collecting these books and seeing them together on my bedroom shelf makes me happy like nothing else does.

What’s your current favourite book?

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. But it’s not for the faint of heart. I highly do not recommend. This book will take you to hell and never bring you back, but I loved the ride the way one loves getting tattoos after the first one, despite the pain. Since then, of course, I’ve bought her next book, To Paradise, and her previous book, The People in the Trees. But guess what.


I hardly read these hard copies.

What? Why?

I almost always read them online before I even decide to buy a physical copy, and when I want to reread, I just go back to these sites — or e-books, if I’m able to download them. I also never lend anyone my books. It’s important to me that they stay immaculate on the shelf.

Besides Chimamanda and Chinua, you haven’t mentioned any Nigerian books. Do you read African fiction?

I do. But it was something I got into during the COVID era. I now have copies of almost all the newer writers. To be honest, even though I have the Chinua trilogy, I’ve never read them. I hope to, someday soon, though, if my day job will let me. 

I’m doing more collecting these days, but the last time I sat through a book from beginning to end, it was actually an African fiction book — Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro, in January 2023. It took me weeks to read because I never have more than an hour or two straight to read in a week.

I can relate, TBH. What do your parents and friends think of all the collecting?

If they think something of it, they haven’t let me know. No one’s ever commented about my collection so far. My parents have always known I’m a booklover, so I guess they’ve grown to expect it. I don’t let my younger siblings near my books because they used to destroy or misplace my books in the past, and I still haven’t forgiven them for that.

Only those closest to me get to enter my room. And the few friends that get to see my collection don’t think it’s crazy, thank God.

Do you think you’ll ever regret spending so much money on books?

Except by an act of God — like rain falls and somehow enters my room to drench everything or fire burns it all down or rats or moths attack my pages — I don’t see how I’d regret it. Wow, I feel like I’ve given the universe some ideas.


Anyway, waking up to see spines of book titles and authors’ names makes me so happy. If I don’t buy books, I’d use all my money for food and transport. That’s all I can afford anyway. I also make sure to save, but books are an investment in my present happiness. 

I hope that when I publish my books one day, someone somewhere will invest as heavily into copies and look upon them with awe.

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