You Are Dope by Ovie Soko is an inspirational guide to living your best life. The book explains how we can all achieve dopeness by following our intuition and owning our individuality.
In a recent online conversation with The Guardian reporter Lanre Bakare, Ovie Soko defined dopeness as “the ability to live life listening to your internal compass and being guided by what you agree with and what agrees with you.”
I feel like this book arrived at a great time for me, and I’m sure lots of people will love it as much as I do. You Are Dope is divided into four chapters: Family, Basketball, Love and How to Achieve Dopeness. In the first chapter, we meet his family. He shares his experiences of growing up in a Nigerian household in North London and attending a school where many pupils were of a different socio-economic background to himself. It’s lovely to see the respect and admiration he has for his parents and brother and the things he loves about them. That first chapter discusses the desire to fit in and feeling like you have to live up to other people’s expectations of you, even when your heart isn’t 100% leaning in that direction. So many of us can relate to this. It was great to see how Soko dealt with these challenges at a young age.
* * *
The Basketball section is the longest section of the four and probably the one I found the most fascinating. When reading it, I realised that Soko’s journey to becoming a professional basketball player wasn’t as straightforward as I imagined. There is plenty of wisdom in this chapter. I think I like it so much because Soko talks about his travels and how he ended up playing professional basketball in Europe. I enjoyed reading about the people Soko encountered in the United States, what he learned from them and what it was like going to school over there. This chapter touches on the importance of being open-minded, safe spaces and dealing with obstacles when pursuing your ambitions. Soko is honest about the ups and downs he experienced on his journey and reassures readers that everyone is on a unique path to dopeness.
The Basketball and Love sections contain several ‘Dope Lessons’ for readers to take away. The entire book is full of pearls of wisdom that Soko has gained throughout his life. Some of my favourites include ‘Love Lessons I’ve Learned’, ‘Advice for my Younger Self’ and ‘Ovie’s Guide to Positive Masculinity’.
* * *
Practicality is another reason why this book bangs. You Are Dope features numerous pages that readers can write in. I LOVE this element because it makes the book feel like a personal journal and encourages honest reflection among readers. These writable pages begin with prompts and questions from Soko, for example, ‘THE KEY TO HAPPINESS: Make a list of your emotional goals, rather than material ones’.
I think I’ve made it clear how fond I am of this book. You Are Dope feels like a good chat with a friend and Soko knows how to keep readers engaged. It’s not a biography or a “here’s my life story” type of book. Soko shares with us the experiences, events and people that have impacted his life and what he’s learned from them. His humour and earnestness shine through in his writing, which makes the book a pleasure to read. I also appreciate how Soko embraces the entirety and complexity of the human emotional experience. You Are Dope doesn’t push an unhealthy and toxic “positive vibes only!” mindset. Instead, You Are Dope gives us range and balance while never coming across as patronising or insincere.
You Are Dope is an uplifting book with lots of valuable advice on authenticity, self-love and self-belief. Everyone should read this gem, plus it would make a dope gift.
My rating: 9.5/10
You Are Dope by Ovie Soko is out now and published by Quadrille.