Reader Recommendations with Afoma Umesi / by Madeleine Riley

It's the last Wednesday of the month, which means we have another Reader Recommendations guest here on Top Shelf Text! Today I'm welcoming Afoma Umesi to the blog. Afoma and I met through Instagram and although we have totally different reading preferences, we love following along with each other! You may even remember that I was recently featured on Afoma's blog in her BOOK'D series (which, by the way, is one of my favorite blog series to keep up with!). Afoma is here to share six of her favorite titles!


Hi! My name is Afoma Umesi. I'm a twenty something year old Nigerian currently living in the Caribbean. I've just completed medical school and I'm in that awkward post university phase. These days I'm spending most of my free time reading and blogging about books and reading on I'm also a contributor to (another book loving site!). As a photographer, I'm also hugely into pictures of books.


Diamond Head by Cecily Wong

Diamond Head is the story of a powerful Chinese family that moves to Hawaii told through the women in the family. There are so many secrets in this family! My favorite thing about this book is the writing. I was mesmerized by the author's portrayal of this family and her description of Chinese culture and tradition. If you like family sagas (like I do) and enjoy learning about cultures in other parts of the world, this book is fantastic for you.


Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

You'd have to have been under a rock not to have heard of this book! It is the adventure that is the life of South African comedian Trevor Noah and this memoir is brilliant! I listened to the audiobook and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it. Trevor is hilarious and his stories of growing up is South Africa are delightful and inspiring. He also shares a lot about his mother's life and his love for her is just the sweetest thing. If you never read any memoirs, try this one. It's a joy!


The Boat People by Sharon Bala

The Boat People was my first read of 2018 and it was such an eye opener regarding matters of immigration and refugees. Bala writes about a fictional Sri Lankan family who flee their country during the civil war to Canada. Instead of the peaceful refuge they anticipate, they are detained and families are separated as the Canadian government believes that some of the refugees are terrorists. This novel is highly insightful and Bala's storytelling is top notch. It's a great debut.


The Windfall by Diksha Basu

The Windfall is a HILARIOUS novel about a middle class Indian family who suddenly come into (A LOT) of money. They decide to move to a high brow neighborhood and begin to upgrade their lives basically. The husband is eager to impress his new neighbors while his wife is sad and nervous about such a drastic change in their middle age. Meanwhile their son who is in business school in America is struggling and also secretly dating an American girl. I cannot believe this book is not popular because it is so good! I enjoyed getting a feel of what the real India is and not some poverty stricken or resort depiction.


Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

Salt Houses was one of my favorite books last year. And oh my word, what beautiful writing! Hala Alyan writes of the Yacoub family in this sprawling saga. Forced to flee after war breaks out in their home in the Middle East, the family essentially lives all around the world from Kuwait to Boston. She writes about the struggles in families so beautifully, love, loss, happiness and all the things that are part of a full existence. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.


And After Many Days by Jowhor Ile

And After Many Days is a debut novel about a Nigerian family whose oldest son goes missing. Heartbreaking and so tenderly written, this family is unforgettable. I enjoyed the nostalgia of a book set in my hometown and the author's ability to clearly describe the pain, hope and heartbreak of losing a child without closure.

Readers, you can find Afoma on her blog at, on Instagram @afomaumesi, on Twitter @AfomaUmesi, and on Goodreads.

If you also loved any of these titles or have something to recommend to Afoma based on her picks, let us know in the comments below!