Eugene Yiga
(Photo: Richard Keppel-Smith – GQ)

Every time I have to introduce myself, I take a deep breath before launching into what often leaves many confused. Even though I’m told I sound British (or American, depending on who you ask), I was born and raised in South Africa. And even though I studied finance, accounting, and classical piano at the University of Cape Town, I worked as a copywriter, journalist, and blogger with occasional television and voice acting, not to mention two and a half years of full-time experience in branding, communications, and market research. Perhaps it’s complicated. And perhaps it’s why I somehow love the music of both Billy Joel and Johannes Brahms!

So, who am I? Even though there are a lot of ways to answer that question, I can sum it up in two words: reading and writing. (Okay, that was three, but you get the idea!) Without a doubt, these have always been my greatest passions in life. Back when I was in first grade, I always loved reading homework with my dad every night. My best friend and I wanted to be the top performers in our class, which is why I always insisted on reading one more chapter or even one more page.

It wasn’t long before my love for reading took an interesting turn. To realise I could inspire and entertain people all over the world as much as I felt inspired and entertained by the books I read was an incredible discovery. Ever since then, I’ve felt driven to write. As a child, I’d write short stories and poems that my brother would type up and print out for all my friends at school. In fact, I still have some first edition classics like The Hungry Chef and The Spooky Pound, complete with what could be my first attempt at using a semi-colon. Not quite right, but a good effort nonetheless!

Eugene Yiga
(Photo: Richard Keppel-Smith – GQ)

As I grew up, my love for writing didn’t stop. I started a journal at fourteen and decided to pass the time over a university summer break by reading through all the entries I’d ever written. Who knew my random ramblings would contain some powerful lessons? And so, over the next winter vacation, I decided to put some of those thoughts into a book. It was quite a challenging process, but thanks to a good friend who kept me accountable, it didn’t take too long.

It was another year before I finally had the courage to publish such a personal story, but it was something I knew I had to do. I knew that the challenges I experienced in life were challenges other people experienced too. I knew they would find comfort in my writing by knowing they weren’t alone. After all the emails I received from readers around the world, it was clear I’d done the right thing by publishing this book:

  • “A joy to read.”
  • “I could relate to many of the things you talked about. All-in-all very genuine.”
  • “It points at a lot of things that I think about and never had the chance to explore.”
  • “It’s amazing how I needed to read your book to actually realise how much I needed to change in my life. I think in a way the book is an inspiration to me.”
  • “It’s beautiful, honest and inspiring.”
  • “It’s refreshing to read the work of someone who transfers their views so effectively.”
  • “Thanks very much for your labour of love.”
  • “These insights are priceless! I also have the utmost respect for you and your writings.”
  • “This is a mini BEST SELLER… These words will help so many people.”
  • “Well written and very interesting.”
  • “While reading the book, it felt as though I was reading my own journal of my destiny so far.”
  • “You are a super star! Thank you!”
  • “You bare your soul in this one. You might as well have been describing me.”
  • “You have a beautiful mind and you deserve just the best.”
  • “You’re doing good things. Good things will happen for you.”

So, where to from here? Well, I set the goal to read the 100 greatest books of all time in the 100 months from November 2007 to my 30th birthday in March 2016. I was having so much fun that I decided to expand the list. I’ve also had a great time writing about travel, leisure, food, drinks, marketing, media, TV, film, music, theatre, personal development, books, and more.

More recently, I’ve made a major switch by pursuing a career in the exciting field of data science. Oh, and just because that change clearly wasn’t big enough, I also moved to Barcelona in 2022 and already feel like it’s become my new home. Despite all this, I know that reading and writing are here to stay. And as long as I can keep exploring and keep creating, I know I’ll be happy. What more could anyone want?

-Eugene Yiga