Book Review: Hey, Stupidity Saved My Life!

Title: How Stupidity Saved My Life
Author: Okechukwu Ofili
ISBN: 978-0-9845725-1-9
Pages: 162
Category: Non-fiction

It was love at first sight. And I was not disappointed. The title of Okechukwu Ofili’s debut book is as fascinating and attractive as the cover design. In twenty-one short chapters, Ofili deftly captivates the reader’s mind and embraces you into his world – one filled with bouts of stupidity that have helped transformed him into an award-winning international public speaker and success coach.

It chronicles Ofili’s incredible journey from being rejected by his first high school of choice, battling the stigma of stupidity in high school and ranking 27 of 30 in class, to graduating from the University of Houston as one of the five most outstanding students in his class. The same year, he won the University of Houston’s Homecoming king award for academic excellence, outstanding leadership and exemplary service to the community, the college’s highest award. Written off by many friends and branded as a failure by many instructors, Ofili s resilience and self-belief floated him past the inhibitions of failures into resounding success. This echoes the words of the late French-Cuban author, Anais Nin, whom he quotes in almost every chapter; that “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

“How Stupidity Saved My Life” is a worthwhile investment of time and money because it educates, entertains, inspires and motivates you to rise above your failures. The central theme is that Life is about the choices we make, and it is never too late to make the right choice. We are all human and therefore, make mistakes – regardless of status or upbringing – but the true key to success is to learn from our blunders and those of other people and most importantly, grow by applying the valuable lessons learnt. This reinforces the anonymous quote, “A smart man learns from his mistakes; a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

Ofili combines the power of quotes, anecdotes, and creative, illustrative sketches to turn his personal mess-ups into a resounding message of hope: “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly”. In a Malcolm Gladwell-esque way, he transitions from one story to another, skillfully inserting well-researched historical analyses to lend credence to his points. The simplicity of his writing style also reminds one of Paul Coelho, the South American author of “The Alchemist” who is a master at painting vivid pictures with words. Ofili would you keep you in suspense, transition to another story, then return to seal his points perfectly. He tells you that success in life does not come from bragging about how much you know, but by understanding and accepting how much you don’t know. “Admit your stupidity and you’ll be a success,” he writes.

This book is a quick and witty read I would recommend for everyone who has ever been slowed down in life because of over-analysis. Too much analysis, they say, leads to paralysis of the mind. The author’s experiences easily resonate with the readers. Every teenager, and lover of teenagers, who enjoyed reading Dr. Ben Carson’s “Gifted Hands” should read this too, and pass on to loved ones. I am so hooked on Ofili and will probably queue up for his next book, just like the Apple faithful did for iPhone 4S.

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P.S: You can take a look at Ofili’s second book here: First copies of [How Laziness Saved My Life] Revealed. I can’t wait to grab my own copy!

Guest Post: Two Quick Book Reviews! by Lanre Shonoiki

It’s been almost a week since I made a post. My few final weeks in the University are already filled with several deadlines and my examination time table is out! But I’ll ensure there’s at least one new post every week.  For the first post this week, I share two quick book reviews by Lanre Shonoiki my witty friend and classmate. The Thing Around Your neck and Eko Dialogue are two of my favourite books read so far (this year)… Enjoy!

THE THING AROUND YOUR NECK (written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

Here, Chimamanda transitions from the novels, Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun, into a collection of short stories, told in the effective, simple language she is highly reputed for. Skepticism on the minds of her fans about her ability to rightly tell bits of narrative doesn’t make it beyond “Cell One.” Characters practically walk out of the pages and lead you through experiences so real that you sometimes fear you turned the last leaf over yourself. The exuberant youth who learns from the shattered to value life (Cell One); the retired lecturer whose life resonates with wraiths of friends and lovers past (Ghosts); the faraway wife on the verge of “adopting” a “younger sister” (Imitation); the as-like-as-chalk-and-cheese writers on Jumping Monkey Hill; the re-dejected Kamara with autistic lesbian tendencies and a handful of others all resound the depth of Adichie’s knowledge of the situations, challenges and psyches of Nigerians. Accounts presented are rich, personal, convincing, seamless and above all beautiful in all their circumstantial imperfection. By the end, readers would find themselves culturally and essentially educated, critics would be rendered speechless, publishers and editors would have found a new standard of reference and writers would have found a higher level of story-telling to aspire to. Thumbs up Ngozi! The hat trick is complete.

EKO DIALOGUE (written by Joy Isi Bewaji)

Simply hilarious!

Some would describe this book that’s barely twice this whole review as ‘small’. ‘Effective’ should be the word. Joy manages to share the true Lagos experience in a hundred and twelve twenty-line pages. (A handful of BBC’s best reporters have tried in over a million words and the thesis is still on the drawing board.) Eko Dialogue is a collection of broken “gossips” on the lives of unrepentant survivors as they rive through the Lagos city cum hive, tricking and treating barely living bodies and semi-nobodies in a bid to make it back home at night… for the next day’s dose of the city’s travails. A fine broth spiced with slangs, grammar-murdering bus conductors, unforgivable vanity junkies and people who haven’t the faintest idea who they are, Eko Dialogue is a book you will keep not just for reference (I bet some of the stories bring personal experiences to mind), but for the occasional laugh you need to fix a broken day.  A few typos make the read slightly bumpy, but be rest assured that you would get good value for your money… or the minutes of cajoling it would cost you to borrow a friend’s copy (no one would let this book out easily). You’ll be through with the book in a few hours, but the book will linger a little longer… to punctuate the next time you haggle the fare with the conductor or listen to the pastor bid you sow “special seeds”.