When was the last time you fell in love with the storyline of a book? The narrator’s voice or even the mindset of a specific character?
When you lose that passion for reading, delving into fiction or non-fiction writing can feel like a mental and emotional tug-of-war. One that exists between your reluctance and a longing to feel what felt like an immersive experience. What began as a hobby in my childhood years, soon started to feel like a chore in my teenage years until I made a conscious decision to maintain my reading momentum. It hasn’t always been easy to keep that momentum going, in fact its been a bit of a bumpy road. But the fascinating work of Joseph G. Schloss, Alain De Botton, Naomi Klein and several other authors are keeping me inspired. That’s why I want to share my thoughts on four specific books I’m reading and the important role they are playing in my life.
As a journalist, I often feel on the outside looking in, which is why I’m always thinking about ways to better understand the mindset of an interviewee. This is a skill that not only informs the questions you ask, but the way you frame a piece of writing. Prior to the global pandemic, I regularly attended jam sessions held by NT’s Loft and Unit31. I also enjoyed intimate music gatherings at the Jazz Cafe. Alongside large concerts, workshops and panel discussions by Creative Debuts and other platforms in venues all around London.
Most of the time, I chose to go to these events on my own. Though, there were times that I went with friends who I made in the music industry. Rappers, producers, songwriters, singers and so forth. Using social media to stay informed, I discovered these events, bought tickets and went purely for the love of music and the allure of being in the more “underground” spaces. I also went because I felt driven by a sense of duty to do so. My interest in these events really peaked when I started my undergraduate degree in 2015 and continued through my postgraduate degree in 2018 and beyond.
It often felt like a conflict of interest, attending lectures that taught why journalists shouldn’t get “too close” to the subject and a story. I knew my writing draws from a personal attachment to music and a desire to be involved in the process of making music. So, I began to question this notion and that’s when I came across Making Beats: The Art of Sample-based Hip-hop by Joseph G. Schloss. I bought this book in 2018. What I first remember is reading the new foreword by Jeff Chang and forming an immediate connection with the book. I went onto read the anecdotes, analysis and critique by Schloss. But as university assignments got more intense, I stopped reading this book and all the other books I was reading at the time, because I simply struggled to read at the pace I used to.
Last year, I began thinking about legacy in music again. I decided to return to Schloss’ book starting from the very beginning. Though two years had passed since I last read it, I found myself resonating with each profound argument that explores hip-hop scholarship and the intricate process of making beats. This book has been a driving force in helping me to understand technical jargon, learning what it takes to put yourself in the shoes of an interviewee and why that is crucial. Despite still reading and understanding the message of Schloss’ work in its entirety, I thought it necessary to share what I already feel working through this book and what I am gaining from it.
I always find myself thinking about the longevity of INTHEWRITERSMIND and what I hope it could one day become. I studied digital brands like i-D and media publications like New York Magazine upon creating this website. Before I designed the logo, I was intent on creating something that is both professional yet adaptable. Black and white were the house colours I knew I wanted to stick to even before I began experimenting with logo designs in Adobe Spark.
As INTHEWRITERMIND grew, so did my thoughts. I started thinking more intently about what makes authentic visual storytelling and how this makes a brand stand out. Quite conveniently, I was gifted Naomi Klein’s No Logo. I feel like I was given this book as a reminder that there is more to a brand than it’s branding. The person who gifted it to me, told me that it holds the keys to building a successful brand with an original story and a personal connection with your audience.
Despite being at the very early stages of this book, I’m already enjoying the hidden gems in the first chapter. I’m definitely looking forward to finishing this book this year and I hope I’m able to use what I learn to continue building INTHEWRITERSMIND from the ground up.
I’ve realised that a lot of the books I’m reading at the moment are quite career focused and purpose driven I think that speaks to where my mindset is right now. But also, this determination to understand the career I’m venturing into. I do think that’s important, but I also accept that I won’t be able to know and learn everything.
Another book that is reigniting my love for reading is The News: A User’s Manual by Alain de Botton. I got this book in my second year of university during my undergraduate degree in history. I remember buying it because I was preparing to write a dissertation on the media’s portrayal of Ray Honeyford. I was reading the work of Teun A. van Dijk at the time, specifically Racism and the Press. I wanted a book that examined different areas of interest within journalism and the power of the language used in news stories. At the time, I hadn’t decided that I was going to pursue a master’s in international journalism and I was grappling with news and current affairs and music and popular culture. What I love about this book is Botton’s attention to detail, the way he offers a psychological analysis of our emotional response to the news and his boldness in questioning reader’s “impulse to admire” celebrities. I set myself a personal goal to read more this year, so making the decision to read this book again is fitting. I still feel that I have so much to learn from it.
The final book I’m reading at the moment is Roberto’s Rio written by Elli Stuhler. This book was gifted to me in November last year. Though not as long as the other books I’ve listed, it is helping me to explore parts of my Brazilian heritage. From learning about architecture in Rio de Janeiro to the historical importance of Roberto Burle Marx this book is providing a colourful, engaging and universal read. It’s encouraging me to look into Nigeria’s Afro-Brazilian legacy, which is something I’ve been meaning to explore since I discovered my Brazilian roots.
I’m looking forward to writing a follow up piece that compares my thoughts now, to my final conclusions after finishing all of these books.