Bookkeeping

Cleaning out my bookshelf has been an emotional event.

I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in the generation who love and adore Toy Story, or because humans pack-bond with just about anything, or even if it’s just because I was probably a busy, heavily scheduled child and spent a lot of time with my belongings as opposed to people- but what happened is… I became very much attached to all of my belongings.

Sometimes its sentimental, other times… I spent money and I didn’t want to confirm that this money has been wastefully spent or misused.

Books have been… very important my whole life, and I’m blessed now that I get to work in this industry. My home has two bookshelves, one upstairs, one downstairs, both of which were previously housed in my room, but are now out in the communal areas of my home. On these many shelves, often double-stacked. Lay 90% of the books in the house… of these books, again, 90% of them were mine. The other 10% comprised of my brother’s small collection of teen horror, fantasy and spy books, and my mum’s holiday reads that she never quite got around to.

The first thing I noticed was that I had had some of these books for…. Years and had probably never touched them since the first time I read them cover to cover. There were books I have had since primary school…. Chronicles of Narnia, Rhol Dahl box collection, a whole lot of Enid Blyton… Stories I remembered fondly, but didn’t really want to revisit. I had and will continue to carry the memories and feelings but I don’t need the item myself. I can pass it on and give this experience to someone else.

The second thing I noticed, was how many multiples I had collected. Mostly given as gifts, or maybe I forgot that I had the same book at home and bought it again. No, they were not signed, no they were not different, no they were no more special than the other copies. They were exactly the same. It’s a bit mad to see all of my books spread out in front of me. Like… I truly didn’t realise the extent of books that I was holding onto because as a self-labelled “book worm” I felt that to give them away or throw them out would damage my imaginary cred.

Sorting through the books there were originally three categories:

1 Books I’m going to keep.

2 Books that are going to my cousin’s school (primary school) in Trinidad.

3 Books that are going to charity.

When I was finished sorting the books, I then damp dusted all of the shelves and some of the books. Before putting the Keepers back on the shelves. That left me with seven boxes full of things that I was letting go. One huge book (more like a mini-crate) for my cousin’s school and six books that were going to get donated. My local Cancer Research charity shop had asked for donations… boy I had a lot of them.

Only my mum asked me to put some thought into it. Six boxes of books are a lot to donate to one place. What else could I do with these books to spread out the joy?

The first thing- one of my Work Aunties TM from Sierra Leonne was fundraising for her former secondary school to get a library. Yes, I had to look through all of these boxes again, but I found that there were enough books for tweens and teens to fill two boxes.

Next, what about my cousins back home? About all the family who visit the house and would maybe like a way to pass the time? Again, another huge box full of things that I thought they would enjoy, that I wouldn’t mind revisiting on the holidays I take but wouldn’t want to keep for myself.

Which left three boxes for my local. Something a bit more understanding that as the new year starts people start throwing out and donating things or dumping them on these charity shops. We dropped them off today. Tomorrow my Work Auntie TM is going to collect the books for her school. The books that are going to the house in Trinidad and my cousin’s school will be sent along with the next set of barrels.

The way I felt at the end of that three-day deep cleaning of my books made me feel so good.

I always thought that I’d feel pained to remove books from myself, which was one of the reasons that I was so hesitant to finally tackle my bookshelves. Also thought I’d be one of those minimalists who had one thing that they would continue to splurge on, this thing being books and stories.

I always love collecting a good series, and I imagine I will continue to do so… most likely in an e-book format (though to be honest I am particularly weak when presented with a beautiful hardback or paperback).

Bookgiving 2017

In this 2017 all my kids getting books and pyjamas because we want to encourage them to (what?) READ and get enough SLEEP (and give their parents a break in this coming 2018th year of our Lord). Some of my kids’ families don’t celebrate Christmas- which is why this is about book-giving.

I try my best to find brown protagonists for my brown babies, introduce them to familiar folklore or re-imaginings of things they may have heard sitting in Grandma’s lap. Because that’s what Book Aunties DO!

I got 9 kids to shop for aged 2 to 13 years.


Afia is my little Ghana princess, my baby ghel. My dolly-child. She loves Disney princesses, legos and taking care of her two big brothers, even when they are mean. A serious petite madam who is always excited to read to me.

What they got: Ada Twist, Scientist Andrea Beatley, With Love from Anna Hibiscus Atinuke

Why I bought it: With Love from Anna Hibiscus was a request, lads, when you get that premier book from a series you are SET. Here is proof- the next book in the Anna Hibiscus series was a request. Like Pokémon- Afia’s trying to catch ’em all! Ada Twist, Scientist is a fun book about a little girl who’s smart as HELL and has a supportive family who encourage her all through her life- just like my girl! Plus it’s cute AF!

Kwasi has been through a lot in his short 13 years. Sometimes I know I spoil and indulge him because I know I want him to feel loved and supported, and now I’m seeing the teen angst and anger sweep through him. I try to find him books that are a bit more mature now so he doesn’t feel like he’s being talked down to.

What they got: Pigeon English Stephen Kelman, The Spider Weaver Margaret Musgrove

Why I bought it: Pidgin English, I wanted to give my boy some more male protagonists who are also black because Mallory Blackman’s Boys Don’t Cry was such a success. The Spider Weaver because well… his mum is always telling me about how  her brothers weave Kente and I didn’t know this story that comes with a mini-history lesson on the fabric. I assume he had too, but I always remember loving having physical copies of Trini folk-tales, not just memories of the oral and thought he’d enjoy the same.

Lizzie is the sweetest little thing! She’s such a nice big sister and is learning how to read for herself, though she still needs help. Her mum was doing my hair and Lizzie came to keep me company all day and read Jack and the Beanstalk with me (her favourite part, that she can recite by heart- little actress in the making: FEE FI FO FUM I SMELL THE PONG OF AN ENGLISHMAN (the publisher changed it from “blood” I guess to make it more child-friendly? don’t @ me)

What they got: Lila and the Secret of the Rain David Conway

Why I bought it: I wanted a cute picture book! Also… like, do y’all know how deep picture books are getting nowadays? I literally love it. This is a cute story about trying to do your best for your community… and the joy when it prevails.

Hannah is my baby sister (who’s 13)! If not in blood, then by face. When we are out together, especially at weddings people are always saying how nice it is to see sisters with our age gap (lol) get on so well. She’s bi-lingual! My girl speaks Twi, cause her daddy taught her, she’s a lil mix of the islands and the motherland, sweetest thing.

What they got: Pigeon English Stephen Kelman

Why I bought it: Honestly I heard bits about this book for the longest while and yes, I bought it TWICE. My girl’s dad is Jamaican and Ghanaian, like I said, she speak Twi! I don’t come across books for kids this age with African protagonists, and even then, harder still for me to find a Ghanaian protagonist? Plus this book is doing bits on the english secondary school curriculum I heard?

Ramalah I’m dying with all these Tweens. Ramalah is a bright girl, she can bake cakes, brownies and doughnuts as well as her professional baker mum. One problem…. she don’t like to read all that much.  Book shopping for Ramalah is like a science experiment, I’m still on the look out for that book that will let her see reading can be fun.

What they got: Zahrah the Windseeker Nnedi Okorafor

Why I bought it: I had so much fun reading Zahrah the Windseeker. It was the first Nnedi Okorafor book that I ever read and it spurred me into reading as much of her work as I could. It feels like Sci-fi and Fantasy all based in Nigerian cultures. The setting is very mystical and feels very solar punk (the people live in interactive house trees, you can GROW computers from seeds!) and the cultures of the characters are vivid af.

Sam is the most serious six year-old you ever met. Despite thanking me for his gift, he let me known that he mostly reads non-fiction and would like a book about science, space, dinosaurs, history or archeology. Yes, in that order. So yes, I have work to do.

What they got: Anna Hibiscus Atinuke

Why I bought it: I’ve had great success buying Anna Hibiscus titles. All the kids I’ve previously bought it for love it. I especially buy these books for my little Naija babies because they’re books their parents love reading these short stories to them as well, as the characters go through situations that the parents may’ve had in Nigeria and tell their kids about when parents go into one of those “back in my day” times.

Shamfa My sweet angel, the love of my life, the light in my heart. My little clone! Who was also born in December. The Terrible Twos are here, and even though she can’t read- she will remind her big, big sisters that what they’ve got in their hands are “[her] book!”

What they got: Twelve Dancing Princesses, Rapunzel, The Princess and the Pea Rachel Isadora

Why I bought it: It was my baby’s birthday. She loves being read to. I love reading books to her! So does her mum and dad. The main pull of purchasing these Rachel Isadora versions of classic fairy tales- my uncle and his partner are very afrocentric and loved that these stories were being given a different cultural setting than the ones we grew up on.

Taymiyah is easy to shop for. My girl will read any and everything under the sun. She’s bendy so I was gonna look into some kid-yoga books, but then I remember just how much she loves reading a book where she and the protagonist are the exact same age.

What they got: President of the Whole Fifth Grade Sherri Winston

Why I bought it: Like I said- easy buy. Taymiyah just went into year six. Last year, I got my girl a book with a protagonist of the similar age- her mum reported that she did not put down that book at all (and is still revisiting it). The cover art of this novel looked cute, and it’s a series! So if she loves it… thats a few gifting opportunities sorted (who doesn’t love a complete set?).

Yaw– Recently bespectacled, my tiny professor. He whinges often, but loves to ask questions. My boy’s first words were chiding Oscar Pistorius for the crocodile tears at the sentencing hearing- he pays more attention to the news than I did… and he was also the easiest to shop for as he’d been asking for one particular book since it came out.

What they got: Jaden Toussaint- The Greatest Episode 1 Marti Dumas , The Getaway Jeff Kinney

Why I bought it: Yaw been asking for The Getaway since it’s pub-date. I promised him I’d get it for his birthday, but it wasn’t published until well after. He lives for this series. Because this birthday he just got the promise of the Getaway and some legos- Jaden Toussaint was a fun extra- this was the best choice, my boy is smart and inquisitive and I thought he’d enjoy a book with a child genius protagonist.


That’s it all folks.

Bookgiving 2017, all done.

Book Auntie antics- over!