Ijeoma Kola shares her favorite books of all time

My Favorite Books of All Time

I used to read ALL THE TIME. Although my poor eyesight is partly genetic, I didn’t do myself any favors by reading books under the covers with a flashlight when I was a kid. I was that nerd who would check out 10 books from the library (there were so many Babysitter’s Club books to get through!) and chuckle when the librarian said see you next month, knowing full well I’d be back in a week. Having to read so much for school definitely calmed my voracity for reading, but I still love to read and try to finish at least two books a month (usually one print and one digital, aided by Amazon First Reads). Someone asked me recently what my favorite books were, so here are 8 of my favorite books of all time!

Stack of my favorite books - Americanah, Le Petit Prince, medical Apartheid, Milk and Honey



Michelle Obama

I’m actually not big into memoirs, but I HAD to read Michelle Obama’s memoir when it came out a year and a half ago. I especially loved her candidness about the struggles to get pregnant and the transition to motherhood while still pursuing her professional goals – it was exactly what I needed to hear as I was in that same boat. I actually spent 30 minutes just now looking for my copy, and will ransack the house until I find it!

Historical Fiction


Yaa Gyasi

This is one of those books that I read and could. not. put. down. The storytelling is incredibly captivating, and the weaving of the two arcs is absolutely wonderful. This was especially poignant for me as a cross-culture kid, who identifies (depending on my mood & current events) as both African and American. Gyasi’s book helps reconcile the two identities and unites them in a historically accurate and poignant tale.

Public Health

Medical Apartheid

Harriet A. Washington

This book was assigned in an undergrad course and was instrumental in shaping my public health research interests. It explores the history of medical experimentation on Black Americans and though reading just a few pages will make you angry, it also may inspire you to think more critically about the inequalities of the healthcare system and other institutions that are meant to serve us all.

Foreign Language

Le Petit Prince

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I can’t fully articulate why this book holds so much meaning for me, except that we read it in my high school French class, and being able to understand and discuss its complexity was the indication that I’d mastered French. Of course I’ve forgotten most of the language but it’s the book that I’ve owned the longest, so seeing my hand written translations warms my heart.

Coffee Table

Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present

Deborah Willis

Though we don’t display books on our coffee table (we’ve gotten into a bad habit of eating dinner on the couch), I do like to flip through this book and look at images of Black people just living their best lives, especially since our mere existence has threatened others for centuries.


Milk and Honey

Rupi Kaur

There are so many great millennial poets so this was hard to choose, but the sleek cover design makes this a great book to keep on your bedside and refer to any time you’re feeling a bit down and need a gentle reminder that you are beautiful and enough and no one and nothing can tell you otherwise.


In the Company of Women

Grace Bonney

Though this could double as a coffee table book, I like keeping this one on my desk whenever I’m feeling like my professional goals are unachievable. Reading the stories of other female entrepreneurs – doing the most interesting and sometimes random work – always gives me just enough motivation to keep pushing.



Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I saved my absolute favorite book of all time for last, because this one holds a lot of sentimental value for me. I met Chimamanda while she was working on this book as a visiting fellow at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard. She invited me and a few other Nigerian girls on campus over to her place, and we had dinner and talked about our lives and upbringing. There are so many parts of myself that I identify with in the book, that it literally feels like it was written for ME. Plus, I was able to get my copy signed while Chimamanda was on tour in NYC. When it was my turn, I asked her if she remembered me from Harvard and she said of course – then she asked me about my long-distance boyfriend (who had gone to one of her readings in Lagos a few weeks prior), and gave me advice that I heeded, and cherish until this day: follow love. ❤️

What are your favorite books of all time?

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  1. I love you Ijeoma Kola.My name is Joan Ndindi,a 28 years kenyan who is passionate about your work.You inspire me dearly.

    Thank you and keep doing the amazing works you are doing.

  2. Wow..we share a couple favourites. Homegoing and Americanah are definitely on my list and as a African diasporan I felt Americanah was written for me too! Highly relatable. d Have had becoming a little while now but have not got around to reading it.

  3. I love the books ,I just bought Becoming and am reading Americhana
    Do you mind sharing about of the advice from her as regards relationship

  4. I did the same thing as a kid! My eyesight is horrible now! Becoming is one of my favorites. Milk and Honey is one of those I go back to all the time and will just open up a random page to read. Americanah is on my TBR list.

  5. Thanks for the suggested. Sadly, I’ve only read “Milk and Honey.” Can’t wait to pick up Chimanda’s book, I added to my list while watching your youtube channel. Might read Michelle’s Memoir via audio book, I heard that her voices adds so much.

  6. Aren’t books the best!? I can totally relate to the flashlight under the covers as a kid. I really enjoyed Becoming as well- incredible that our forever First Lady is able to remain so relatable and humble even as she shines so bright in our eyes. And Rupi Kaur… so good. I look forward to checking out the others you mention, particularly Medical Apartheid.

    A few of my faves- The Phantom Tollbooth, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, The Red Tent, and Trick Mirror.