I get this question a lot; let me just address it here: “which books influenced you?”, “share your all-time great books”, “which books can you recommend to me”, or things in that line.
This is my expanded answer: Largely, I cannot say any book influenced me except of course the Bible. I do not have time to read books these days. I prefer magazines (Forbes U.S., Economist, Fortune and Bloomberg Businessweek). I have maintained their subscriptions for years; typically, I read them when I am traveling if time will not permit.
But on books, except The Richest Man in Babylon which Diamond Bank gave me as a gift in training school, nothing really that much. My biggest exposition was reading more than 50% of African Writers Series, from Things Fall Apart to as many as I could lay my hands while in secondary school.
In short, Things Fall Apart was used to rig our minds to go to secondary school in my village: those days the teacher will tell you the story of Nwoye’s mother and a little bit of Ikemefuna. You would like to know more … but he would stop, telling you that if you want to know the rest of the story, you must sign-up for common entrance to go to secondary school. The next day, sales of common entrance forms will begin and because of the quest of knowing what happened in the remaining part of the story, everyone will buy the form.
Then, once you get to secondary school, you will get a copy of Things Fall Apart from a local merchant. Abia State has 94% literacy rate (NBS data); Ovim, my village has 99% because everyone goes to school. I am not sure if anything motivated me going to secondary school than knowing the concluding part of the story in Day By Day Book 6 where they told the half story of Nwonye’s mother and Ikemefuna.
That said, I cannot lay hands on any book as being influential but I must note that the Richest Man in Babylon and Acres of Diamonds were impactful along with life cases of the African Writers Series. While in the university, I enjoyed Chinua Achebe’s Okike – an African journal of new writing – and proceedings of Ahiajoku lectures. An in-law had packed many editions of Okike, and I indulged on them. Achebe’s Okike was impactful as I began university education reading the series.
More so, I did read “A Woman’s Temptation” and “Beyond Pardon” by Bertha M. Clay; I consider those among great foreign novels that I enjoyed in secondary school.