Hauwa Shaffii Nuhu On The Books That Shaped Her Writing

Today Hauwa Shaffii Nuhu shares with us her reflection on the books that shaped her as a writer.
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash
“When I'm asked about my mentors, or people who have shaped my evolution and growth as a writer and even as a human being, the first thing that comes to mind is books
Books have held my hand through lifethrough long nights filled with so much darkness I can't find my own hand, and through days filled with so much light I do not know what to do with itWithout books, I'd have been completely lost
I still remember the day I discovered the magic that is Safia Elhillo. That day after I read a particular poem of hers onlineI was wild with an intense kind of gratitude. I call it gratitude because I was grateful for the gift. Before thendidn't know that I was allowed to write poems like that. Safia Elhillo's poetry held me softly by the heart and said "child, you can write whatever you want to write. If that happens to include poems about your identity as a Muslim, the better for your readers". And so I have come to hold her book, The January Children, as some sort of holy book. It lies beside me even as I write thisflanked by Fatimah Asghar's If They Come for Us, and Danez Smith's Don't Call Us DeadIt's one of my most valuable possessions. 
Another book I hold so dearly is The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes. In that bookJulian Barnes handles sentences with a sort of delicateness and mastery that borders on sorcery. I return to it on nights I need to be pampered by beauty, but also by genius
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green should have been the first on this list. But these things happen. It is the dearest thing to me. It makes me feelAlways. I have read it more than I have read any other book. Isuspect might have the whole book memorizedHis latest work, "Turtles All The Way Down" is also a lesson in excavation of the soul
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez is another masterpiece that opened my mind to the worlds present in the possibility of language. It reveals writing as a mood, but also as a lullaby to the heartThat writing moves, and that narration can employ a craft that overwhelms youin a way that simply eludes youThat bookscan be described as gorgeous.
Yiyun Li in her memoir "Dear Friend, from my life I write to you in your lifetells us what a beautiful thing a sad thing can be
What a beautiful thing language is.”