Tomi Adeyemi Hates Assigned Reading

Tomi Adeyemi Hates Assigned Reading

Who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine? Your favorite antihero or villain?

Antiheroes: Zuko, from “Avatar: The Last Airbender”; Logan, from “X-Men”; Kaz Brekker, from “Six of Crows.” Villains: Light Yagami, from “Death Note,” and Magneto, from “X-Men.” I guess my Slytherin is showing, because I love my antiheroes and my villains more than my heroes.

What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

I was a voracious reader when I was young. I lived for the summer reading challenges where I could read 50 books and get like three Airheads at the end of August. The authors and books that worked themselves into my heart were Mary Pope Osborne and her Magic Tree House series, J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter, Masashi Kishimoto and “Naruto.” I consider myself a creative child of fantasy and anime.

How have your reading tastes changed over time?

My Kindle is loaded up with several of the stories I wrote as a girl and as a teenager. It’s wild reading them now because I vaguely remember the nights and weekends I stayed up writing these tales, and I see the plots and character types that I’ve loved reading about and imagining since I was young.

I’ve always loved sweeping romances and magical fantasies. I’ve loved headstrong, determined female protagonists and epic battles. I still like to read the same things. I think the difference now is that I get to read all the things I like with characters who look like me. My childhood stories didn’t give me that. Even in the stories I wrote myself, I was only writing white characters and biracial characters. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that erasure was painful and damaging to my sense of self. So getting to create and read stories that fight that erasure and build on my sense of self is the only significant change in my reading tastes.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

Oprah Winfrey, Octavia E. Butler and Toni Morrison. I would be extremely uncomfortable in the midst of all that greatness, and I probably wouldn’t speak. But while stuffing my face with little lobster rolls, I would get to learn from and be inspired by those three incredible women.

Whom would you want to write your life story?

Honestly, me, because I’m a perfectionist. But I don’t think I’m the best person to write my story because while I have a unique take on my story, I also lack a lot of necessary perspectives that would be needed to write an accurate life story. I’m going to cheat this one and say I would like Shonda Rhimes to do a highly dramatized mini-series of my life story.

What do you plan to read next?

“Blood Heir,” by Amélie Wen Zhao. I’ve heard really great things. I’m excited to check it out!

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