Bookseller One Grand Books has asked celebrities to name the ten titles they’d take to a desert island, and it’s shared the results with Vulture. Below is actor and children’s book author Lupita Nyong’o’s list.
The book I have read the most times. I love the decadent melancholy of it. I also love the delicate relationship between Gatsby and his unrequited love, Daisy. My favorite sentence from the book is when Daisy says, “What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon? And the day after that, and the next thirty years?” Now that is restlessness and privilege if I ever heard it!
Americanah is a dramatic romance and a coming-of-age story, a class narrative, and a comedy of manners. I first read it in 2013, and I was struck with how exactly I related to Adichie’s depiction of the contemporary African immigrant experience. She captures it, expresses it, analyzes it, and celebrates it. It’s a story begging to be experienced visually.
A shatteringly beautiful memoir about Hinton’s life on death row for 28 years for a crime he did not commit. It’s a real downer to read about something as dark and unfortunate as wrongful incarceration, but Hinton expresses himself with a heart incomprehensibly swollen with love and gives meaningful insight into his alienating experience. And he does so with a disarming sense of humor. His message is ultimately like a cold shower that sobers you up to the reality of injustice in the legal system, while also lifting you up as you consider the resilience of the human spirit.
I was stunned by how relevant the themes of the book are to today. I did not imagine that sci-fi would be an enjoyable genre to get into for me, but Butler writes with such a familiarity that the alien is welcome and intriguing. She really artfully exposes our human impulse to self-destruct.
A friend recommended Saga as a good introduction to comic-book reading for adults, and I latched on to it. It’s Romeo and Juliet passion meets Star Wars epic and Game of Thrones provocativeness, all with sharp and witty dialogue and incredibly imaginative illustration. My favorite character: Lying Cat, a cat that, instead of meowing, says “lying” every time someone lies in its presence. Now that’s a superpower I would want!