Are Lupita Nyong’o and I compatible (readers)?

Disclaimer: I do NOT know Lupita Nyong’o. All the information is taken from various social media posts and interviews and could potentially be outdated.


Here we are once again with a new installment of the reader compatibility feature or celeb book club, as I like to call it! In case you missed the previous ones, don’t hesitate to check out the following posts:
Are Tom Hiddleston and I compatible (readers)?
Are Chris Evans and I compatible (readers)?
Are Sebastian Stan and I compatible (readers)?
Are Pedro Pascal and I compatible (readers)?

And here comes once again the reminder that this is done with the sole intention of it being fun and not taken too seriously. I’m comparing my taste in books with that of actors and actresses to see if we would be “compatible” on the basis of those reading taste alone. How could you ever take that seriously?


This is the first time I’m doing the reading experiment with a woman and I couldn’t be more excited about it being Lupita Nyong’o. Initially, I was looking for more people in the Marvel universe for these posts, because it’s such a heavy focus on this blog in general, but it’s tricky finding extensive book recommendations for most of them. That’s alright! Not everyone is a reader, but when I found this interview with for One Grand Books, I knew I had struck gold. I hadn’t just stumbled upon a great reading list, but also knew there’d be so much more to discover about her life and career.

The Kenyan actress hasn’t just graced our screen in everything from horror to historical dramas and mainstream blockbusters, but has worked behind the camera as well and even wrote her own children’s book (Sulwe)!

There have been some great developments in publishing for that age range, but I was hesitant to include kid lit in this post. Ultimately, I decided to focus on more adult fiction for my experiment. While I want to read books that aren’t necessarily in my comfort zone, I hope you’ll all forgive me, but I wouldn’t even know how to review a children’s book to do it justice. So, without further ado, here are my final picks from the above mentioned interview:

  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton (with Lara Love Hardin)
  • A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
  • Saga by Brian K. Vaughan/Fiona Staples

Initial Thoughts

Genuinely, this is the reading experiment I’ve been the most excited about ever since I’ve started this series. I just glimpsed at what was ahead and had this feeling inside me that this was going to be good. Do I know that for sure? Of course not! But just look at the selection yourself. There’s a graphic novel, fiction and non-fiction alike and the majority of the authors aren’t white men either. There’s definitely cause for celebration here on my part.

Nevertheless, there’s a small voice at the back of my mind that’s telling me to tone it down a little bit. I’ve been burned with previous candidates and I didn’t even have any real expectations with those. Still, I’m (not so cautiously) optimistic! What could go wrong?

The Books

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan/Fiona Staples

“A friend of mine recommended it as a good introduction to comic book reading for adults, and I latched onto it.”

Luptia Nyong’o in her interview with One Grand Books

Starting with the graphic novel was an easy choice. First of all, I just love reading graphic novels and comic books between heavier reads, because they feel like a such a good palette cleanser, while (mostly) being incredibly fun and intriguing on top of things. Secondly, I own a couple of comics, but I’m not a huge connoisseur by any means and love to explore new stories.
I had obviously heard about Saga before, but knowing that people enjoyed it was about the height of my knowledge. Just imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when I was absolutely sucked into this world!

“It’s Romeo and Juliet passion meets Star Wars epic and Game of Thrones provocativeness but with sharp and witty dialogue and incredibly imaginative illustration.”

Luptia Nyong’o in her interview with One Grand Books

I truly couldn’t agree more with Lupita Nyong’o! I love the art style, which isn’t always easy for me, because apparently I’m a snob, but I was also immediately fascinated by the characters and the world-building. It took me a hot minute to get who did what and how everyone was connected, but I just as quickly realized, I was fully invested. Without spoiling anything, I was especially curious after I learned who the narrator was – but my lips are sealed!

Something that also helped me in loving this is that I just kept picturing Daniel Henney as Marko, because I know that man can wield a sword after Wheel of Time! If they make this into a live action show, I’d love to see him in the role! I mean, just add some horns …

One thing I wasn’t entirely prepared for was the fact that this really was made for adults! There is loads of violence, explicit nudity and other adult themes. I suppose it was just a bit too much for me at times, but I still enjoyed myself in the end and that’s all that matters.

As a closing statement, I should probably clarify that I have only read Volume 1 so far! I do intend to read more, but these things aren’t cheap and I like my comics as physical copies.

Click here for more information on Goodreads or Storygraph.

The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton (with Lara Love Hardin)

The full title of this book is actually The Sun Does Shine: How I found life and freedom on Death Row and let me tell you, this memoir made me break out in tears SEVERAL times.

It’s not the first time I read about racial profiling, wrongful incarceration or other failures of the judicial system, however, this is the first time I read a full length account from a person who actually went through it. The emotions Mr. Hinton’s story provoked ranged from frustration to anger to deep sorrow to relief and so much more. I think it’s impossible for anyone who hasn’t actually lived through this to comprehend how it must have felt to be confronted with potential death every day for so many years, but Mr. Hinton manages to create such a bond with the readers that easily conveys the heavy load of emotions.

There’s a deep-seated doubt in me that I would have been as gracious and forgiving as Mr. Hinton, had I ever found myself in a situation like that. But I was so glad that his faith, his imagination and the relationships he managed to forge throughout his life, even in the most unlikely of places, carried him through. Especially the way he talked about his mother and childhood friend made my heart warm, it was so precious! And yet, I’m also angry that he had to be gracious in the first place. Anger and unkind thoughts should not be surprising when you find yourself accused and convicted of crimes you could not possibly have committed. Sometimes I genuinely don’t know how the people that refused to listen or actively worked against him could sleep at night …

“It’s a real downer to read about something as dark and unfortunate as wrongful incarceration, but Mr. 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.”

Luptia Nyong’o in her interview with One Grand Books

I genuinely don’t believe I’ve ever cried this much reading a non-fiction book. This man was incarcerated longer than I have been alive on this planet – I still can’t wrap my head around that fact! But this is now definitely one of my go to recommendations for non-fiction! A kind of must-read!

Click here for more information on Goodreads or Storygraph.

P.S. For those interested, there is also a book by and a movie about Mr. Hinton’s lawyer, Bryan Stevenson, called Just Mercy! (I’m talking about the capable and very kind man that helped Mr. Hinton and not the lazy and indifferent one that was originally assigned to him.)

A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson

Treat people with kindness” isn’t just a Harry Styles song (yes, we are in the talks of me doing a reading experiment with him as well at some point), but something I like to live by. And yet, I really struggled with this book. And when I say “struggled”, I mean I would have liked to throw this book against a wall in frustration, but couldn’t do so, because I was reading it as an ebook …

“I come to this book again and again to remind myself what the practice of love is.”

Luptia Nyong’o in her interview with One Grand Books

After Lupita said that, I thought I would go into this book and find solace in it the way I did with No Death, No Fear, but instead I found myself more confused and frustrated than anything else.

A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles is basically author Marianne Williamson’s findings and thoughts on A Course of Miracles. I have not read A Course of Miracles or “taken the course” and neither do I intend to, but A Return to Love is more or less her interpretation of it and how she lives her life based on principles she has learned from it. That’s all perfectly okay, I suppose. It has this one really popular quote that I think a lot of people can relate to and that usually reels people in:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”

from A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson

Now, where it gets tricky is when you say a book if for everyone, no matter if they have a religious affinity or not and then make it very, very Christian. I’m talking constant mention of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and even Virgin Mary at times. You all know from previous posts that I wouldn’t call myself a person of faith. It’s not that I don’t believe in anything at all, but I definitely wouldn’t say I’m religious and I just sort of felt a wall go up inside of me.

As I said in the opening statement, I’m a proponent of being kind to people. I also strongly believe that fear can be a real hindrance in life and should not be the basis upon which you make decisions, but that’s about where my understanding for this book ends. I felt especially uncomfortable with some of the messaging in regards to relationships and health.
Maybe that was not the intent, but the way I read it, the author mostly recommended to pray on everything and not do much. Someone treats you bad? You don’t know their story, just forgive them. Stick with them. And people with mental health issues need not see a therapist, we must not confront our trauma from the past, just forget about it. There’s no point in talking about the negative. But worst of all was the insinuation that health issues (mental, chronic, terminal or otherwise) were based on a lack of love within the person or surrounding the person. The phrasing of those things still worries me to this day.

Ultimately, I’m glad Lupita Nyong’o finds comfort in this book, but I wish I had never read it.

Click here for more information on Goodreads or Storygraph.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah was a book that had been on my radar for the longest time. With all the praise surrounding it, I think I went into it with a bit too high expectations. It was bound to disappoint me, but it was still a good read.

My previous experience with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s writing was through We Should All Be Feminists (another must-read!) and I think essays are really her strong suit. In a way, Americanah felt like a series of essays strengthened with the addition of characters. When you read this book, it definitely has the effect as if you were reading authentic accounts from immigrants, which just proves that Adichie captured the experience well. It therefore doesn’t surprise me that Lupita Nyong’o could relate.

“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.”

Luptia Nyong’o in her interview with One Grand Books

Generally, I thought that a lot of the topics and important themes that were covered in the book should be something a lot more people need to hear and/or read about. Adichie is earnest and unflinching in her commentary on race, class, education and more. It doesn’t just feel insightful but also engaging. However, I still struggled with the pacing a lot, which made the reading itself go dreadfully slow.

According to the blurb, it was supposed to be about young lovers reuniting after 15 years and two very different paths taken in life, but this book was 80% “flashbacks”. There’s nothing wrong with having good backstory, I’d even say so much as having necessary information, but the blurb created a different expectation of the story for me. So, I was constantly waiting for something to happen that wouldn’t come until the final part of the story, even though there was a rich tale told anyway.

Click here for more information on Goodreads or Storygraph.

Conclusion

Finding a common theme or trend within all the books was a little harder this time around. I think Lupita Nyong’o likes to read about people who have strong convictions and a point of view on life that is truly theirs. Most of the characters and real life people I got to “meet” through these books had more faith in their personal causes than anyone I know. It’s definitely a draw and I can see how that is enticing.
As an actress, director, writer, etc., I can also see her scan the material for what could potentially work on the screen (she mentioned that for Americanah, for example). I wonder if that’s something that always kind of plays in the back of her mind. It would make sense to me considering her profession!

Now, as far as our compatibility goes … well, I set myself up for failure with how excited I was, didn’t I? It started out so well too and I really loved the first two picks, but then it kind of soured. I wouldn’t say Americanah is a bad book at all, please don’t get me wrong, but I definitely did not vibe with A Return to Love. When someone is trying to define God and preach to me, I just want to nope out of there.

Generally, I think Lupita Nyong’o has a varied palette and good taste. I could see myself potentially reading another book that was recommended by her in the future, but considering I thought we might be bookish soulmates, that did not pan out.


What did you think of my reading experiment and the result this time around? I don’t think this will remain a monthly feature, but I’d like to continue with it semi-regularly. Who would YOU like to see me compare reading tastes with next? Should I branch out to musicians as well?

32 thoughts on “Are Lupita Nyong’o and I compatible (readers)?

  1. This was definitely a great one! I felt the same way about Saga and Americanah. I will definitely not be reading A Return to Love, but The Sun Does Shine sounds really good! But I do think Lupita’s taste in books differs a lot from mine after seeing some of these books.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another great post in this series and I absolutely love it (the post and series both)! 😍 I’m a huge fan of Saga and after your mention of Daniel Henney is Marko I won’t be able to read the series without thinking the same (thankyou, haha)! I probably won’t be checking out A Return to Love and I actually ended up putting Americanah aside several years ago (and have yet to pick it back up & don’t have plans to so I guess it’s a DNF now lol) but The Sun Does Shine sounds great. I’m an emotional reader so it’ll probably definitely make me cry!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! Haha Daniel Henney just fits the role so well!? And there cannot ever be too much Daniel Henney on my screen. I’m now really hoping someone will make that happen.
      I get why you DNFed Americanah. I’m not exactly sure I would have stuck with it, if it hadn’t been for the reading challenge.
      I hope you’ll enjoy The Sun Does Shine if you end up reading it!!

      Like

  3. She’s in Black Panther, by the way! So your streak of Marvel-centric actors/actresses continues! 😛 And wow, it’s so fascinating to read about her reading tastes and how much it fits with you too. I’m always overly hyped by the idea of famous people enjoying things that I’ve enjoyed and, here, seeing Saga just made me give her 10 extra points!!! Thanks for sharing, Kat! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Marvel streak broke (in fact I would go so far as to say that I betrayed it) when I did a post on Pedro Pascal, since he was in the enemy DC franchise hahaha But I knew I’d find my way back to my MCU roots. Lupita Nyong’o is such a great actress and even though there were some hiccups, I was SO happy to have such a varied list of books to chose from.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Should you branch out to musicians as well, my answer is YES! I always find it so much fun to see who you’ll pick, what their kind of books will be and how you’ll enjoy them, so if you enjoy doing this, please continue always. ❤
    I loved reading your thoughts on all of these books and hey, a 50/50 is a pretty good score! I’m glad you enjoyed the first two reads, as well. Honestly, I don’t think I’d personally be compatible with Lupita. Those books sound interesting, but not the kind of book I’d fall for. The Sun Does Shine stands out to me, from the way you talk about it, though! It sounds like such a powerful read, but I know I wouldn’t be able to handle it, at all ahah.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Harry Styles will probably be the first actor/musician I do, but it’s not happening soon. There’s a couple people up first 🙂
      The Sund Does Shine was indeed very powerful. I’m so glad I read it, but I understand what you mean. It’s a lot to handle.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Loooove this post!! It’s a bit sad that your experience seemed to go downhill after the first two books, but at least you had some good success!! I loved the way you discussed each of the books and clearly articulated your feelings on them – you’ve definitely got me to add The Sun Does Shine to my TBR!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly, I’m used to these reading experiments kinda going awry halfway through at this point haha all of them had some disaster element too it, which I suppose, fits the blog quite well haha
      Thank you so much for checking out the post and I hope you will enjoy the reading experience of The Sun Does Shine should you end up picking it up 🙂

      Like

  6. i loved reading this post! i also enjoyed saga when i read it a while ago, and i’m glad you did too. it’s definitely such an engaging and interesting world/story! and i’ve been wanting to read more nonfic lately and i’m definitely interested in the sun does shine based on your strong recommendation. it sounds heartbreaking, but so good!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not usually a non-fiction person, but that book really won me over. I’m very aware that there is a huge problem of injustice in many systems, but it gets so much more heartbreaking when you highlight it with one specific case.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I was laughing so hard at your hype at the beginning… so sad that you weren’t as happy with the reads as you expected, but those first two books?!!?! I’ve been trying to add more nonfiction to my reading, so I am going to try to pick up The Sun Does Shine.

    Great post, as always!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was so confident this was going to be a great match … oh well, at least I really enjoyed half of it haha
      The Sun Does Shine is really great! It has a couple repetitive phrases in it, but I always imagine that makes sense if you think about the same thing and are alone with those thoughts for 30 years.

      Like

  8. This is awesome!! Love reading these experiments! I adore Saga! And I really want to read the sun does shine. I don’t know a return to love would be for me either. And Americanah is the only book on this list I’ve read and I agree about the pacing/structure. It wasn’t what I was expecting either. I had mixed feelings about it.

    Like

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