Discover the books we’re telling all of our friends to read this season.
At Fifty-Four magazine, we love a good book. We read it all – from fiction to biography. And we read in many ways and many places – by candlelight, with a highlighter in hand, on the train, or in waiting rooms. In each issue, we’ll feature a few of our favourites. Meet the authors and find out which books we soaked up this season.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
An internationally acclaimed author whose work has been translated into over 30 languages, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie knows just how to create the kind of inspiring characters and write the honest words that find us equal parts relentlessly eager to reach the last page and desperately trying to savour every last second of the story at hand. Here are two inspiring works of hers that we lose – and find – ourselves in, time and time again.
Notes on Grief
We would be hard-pressed to shine a spotlight on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and not mention Notes on Grief. Split into a total of 29 short sections, this work is as raw and relentless as it is full of the brand of beauty that bubbles to the surface when you least expect it and the kind of comfort that comes only from horrific shared experiences – from knowing another human being on the planet has felt what you felt, has lost what you lost, has clawed their ways up the wall of grief you know so well.
There are African rarities (a mother who must shave her head to honour her dead husband) and universal truths (Adichie documents how grief brings about not just the expected emotional pain, but the surprising physical, whole-body pain). There are passages so poignant they hurt, (“My four-year-old daughter says I scared her. She gets down on her knees to demonstrate, her small clenched fist rising and falling, and her mimicry makes me see myself as I was, utterly unravelling, screaming and pounding the floor.”), comparisons so accurate you wonder how they’ve never been uttered before (“Is this what shock means, that the air turns to glue?”), and anecdotes that manage to encompass an entire world in a few short words (“‘I have eight cars,’ my sister’s wealthy suitor once boasted, and my father replied, ‘Why?’”). It is a collection of the anger, denial, uprooting, shock, sadness, and – most of
Our advice for navigating the nuanced journey of grief? Keep a copy of Notes on Grief on your shelf – and reach for it like your favourite blanket when your heart writhes and wrenches. It may not make you feel better, but it will certainly make you feel less alone, which is the best gift we can hope for when it comes down to it.
The first black editor-in-chief of British Vogue and the European editorial director for Conde Nast, Ghanaian Edward Enninful gives us a candid look at his upbringing and rise to the top of the fashion world. His debut book left us fascinated and filled with hope for the future of fashion. Our dog-eared copy is full of highlights and held close, which means we want to give it to every single person we meet, but won’t let go of ours. It’s a must-buy and a must-borrow – just don’t take our copy.
A Visible Man: a memoir
As a black, gay, working-class refugee, Edward’s rise to the top of one of the most exclusive and competitive industries in the world is one of the most worthwhile stories we can read today. In this debut memoir, Edward details both heartwarming moments of success and heartbreaking encounters with racism along his journey to change the fashion industry from within and redefine what beauty means to all of us.
From growing up in Ghana to London, Edward courageously unpacks his internal and external battles, daring to take on tricky topics and tough conversations. We learn of his courage and appreciate his candor as he scales setbacks and sets new standards. A Visible Man is both eye-opening and endlessly entertaining as Edward dares to “tell it as it is.” We get a front-row seat to the career journey of one of the most creative geniuses and generous changemakers the fashion industry has ever seen.