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This week’s guest: His Royal Highness Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II

As a Nigerian he needs very little introduction. In an interview he granted a year before he ascended the throne of his forefathers, the Emir’s…

As a Nigerian he needs very little introduction. In an interview he granted a year before he ascended the throne of his forefathers, the Emir’s interdisciplinary prowess and cerebral nature shone through.
Here are his five favorite books at the time. There may be a few tweaks here and there to this collection, additional books, maybe a slight shift, but overall this is the fulcrum of his brilliance, the foundation of his personality domiciled in what he read in the past, what he reads now and the books that bring him joy. We now republish that column for your delight unedited.
Enjoy the collection of a royal and an intellectual, as previously published!

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is my friend and brother. He has always been cutting edge, even while we were at school, but his life’s work places him among one of very few Nigerians, who is interdisciplinary, yet cerebral in each area he has chosen. He speaks about issues with knowledge base and conviction and his oratorical skills are exceptional. A class act, I leave you with his five favourite books, which are clearly those of a man with an incredibly engaging mind.

CURRENTLY READING:

 Dostoyevsky, a book written by the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The book threatens to implode all my conceptions of the Russian genius. Ninety-nine percent of those who read Dostoyevsky’s books, especially The Brothers Karamazov end up with the view that he is Agnostic, or at best Atheist. Williams argues however that this is partial reading and that when read within a broader narrative of all of Dostoyevsky’s writings, indeed the Russian was a man of faith. So the view I have always held that Ivan in the novel who gave the most powerful argument ever about the non-existence of God-was created in Dostoyevsky’s image appears to be wrong, if Williams is right.
BOOK YOU WISH YOU HAD WRITTEN:
 Shakespeare’s Books: What strikes me about him is his ability to just take the world and the concept of the world from earthly to the ideal. Romeo and Juliet is perfect love and in the real world, it’s really almost impossible. Othello is about jealousy in its extreme and King Lear is about foolishness and ego at its zenith. He also shows the logical consequences of extreme foolishness and love without limits. In Merchant of Venice, you see greed at its height. I have not quite seen anyone that does this kind of writing as well as Shakespeare.

WHAT BOOKS DO YOU RETURN TO AGAIN AND AGAIN?
 Books by the Stoic philosophers. The Letters and Essays of Seneca, Selected works of Cicero among others. When you are faced with betrayal, and a lot of negatives of human nature, you must be the first to understand it. I love books that have implications for practice and action.

FIVE FAVOURITE BOOKS:
 The Name of the Rose, a historical murder mystery, set in an Italian Monastery in 1327. Written by Umberto Eco. It’s pure enjoyment.

 The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Thriller, Drama, Mystery.

 Niccolo Machiavelli’s La Mandragola, a Play. Because of his famous work, The Prince, not many people pay attention to his other works. This play is a comedy, really hilarious, essentially about a man’s devious means of acquiring the love of a woman.  

 Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. You not only get submerged in Igbo tradition, you also deal with issues of the clash of civilizations, the dignity of man, which is a universal and practical theme. It also deals with Colonization and how one should react to change.

 Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. Considered a supreme achievement in Literature, a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt and reason.

WHAT MAKES YOU BUY A BOOK IN A BOOKSHOP?
I have a sickness. I think that is what it is for want of a better description. I buy books because I would like to read it one day and I don’t want to miss it. I also pick up books based on reviews, if I have heard about it and books that deal with contemporary issues.

WHAT BOOK DID YOU NEVER FINISH?
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, I hope to finish it someday.

WHAT TIME OF DAY DO YOU READ?
Mostly in the night. Although in my undergraduate days, I used to read about something I have never read before every day. The Qur’an is not inclusive, because its routine except its commentary about the Holy Book.
 
BONUS BOOKS
 Russian classics to include War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I love Tolstoy for his style and the biographical value compass he operates, Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, and Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.
 If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller, by Italo Calvino, a really interesting and well-crafted book about writing and readers.
 Great Economists and Their Times.

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