Book Review

‘Our enviable book collection’

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Dr Franz Owano, an avid book reader and author at the Prestige Booksellers, Mama Ngina Street on February 14, 2022. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Franz Owano, a doctor

Do you have a reading plan?

Indira Gandhi {ex- India Prime Minister} believed that demanding tasks can easily be accomplished by dividing them into modest bits. The same could be said about having a reading schedule.

I select books, the order to read them and the logical number of pages to read per day. You can also catalogue your progress. I have fallen into the habit of dog-earring the pages.

What books and authors do you most look forward to reading to?

I like self-development books. ‘Dopamine Nation’, a book by Ana Lembke sparked my curiosity. Dopamine is a feel-good hormone linked to pleasure, reward, and in some cases addiction.

In an age where desires are indulged regardless of consequences, the contents of this book give room for pause. I look forward to discovering the benefits of delayed gratification as opposed to intemperance.

The One Thing’ by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan is another book that discusses the effects of multi-tasking on productivity. It champions the advantages of focusing on a given task at a time rather than juggling one’s self into inefficiency.

Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius in which through private notes, the book serves as an exposition of a man’s quest to live a moral life.

The Untethered Soul’ by Michael Singer in which he describes the mind as a journey within itself; dogged by a negative shadow and self-doubt. The author advises on how to bypass this dissenting voice to create positive affirmations.

How has reading helped you achieve your goals in the past year?

Like most readers, I had long flirted with the notion of writing books one day. To leave my mark in the manner most authors I admired had.

I stumbled upon Jim Rohn’s ‘Guide to Time Management.’ It enabled me to prioritise my artistic pursuits while balancing my career and literary interests. I managed to publish ‘Banda’s War’ and ‘The Chief Must Die’.

How do you avoid a reading slump?

A reading slump is an unsettling period where books held in reverence no longer trigger the same emotion. The beauty and poetry of prose fail to stroke the embers of passion they once kindled.

To tackle this quandary, we must first pose a pertinent question. Why do readers read? The urge to fill a certain void is evident. Be it to assuage curiosity, improve competency in a particular field or seek distraction from an uncongenial reality.

If you reach a point where books don’t excite you, take a break. When ready approach it with a child-like curiosity and your zest for reading may be revitalised.

Any book/author you have read that reminds you of your youth you’d recommend to someone trying to find their way through life?

The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand comes to mind. The author weaves into the tapestry of our conscience the desperate battle of a man trying to remain true to himself. The right to pursue one’s path on their term.

As a young man on a path to self-discovery, I identified with it.

All men should dare to confront this: Is it nobler to toe the line at the expense of your soul or is a man’s ego the fountainhead of human progress?

Thatcher Mweu, Sendy Fulfillment Project Manager

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Thatcher Mweu, Fulfillment Project Manager at Sendy, an e-commerce tech company in Kenya. PHOTO | POOL

What is your current favourite book/author?

Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire’ by Brad Stone. I enjoy reading “hardship books”, where a character’s journey is detailed in such a captivating way. I, of course, like it when the books have happy endings.

What was your first interaction with reading a book?

In Class 4. The first English book I read was 'The Vicious Circle'. I forget the author’s name. {Vicious Circle by Wilbur Smith)

Are you a book hoarder?

No, I read every book I buy or otherwise acquire. Some books may take me longer to finish than others, but I eventually get through them.

Do you re-gift books?

I do, but only to family members. I find re-gifting books to be an intimate act because you have to understand someone to gift them a book that they would either enjoy or one that would be beneficial.

What’s so hard about letting go of books?

It has to do with the characters. There are some books whose characters’ lives are quite similar to mine, and it is usually hard to finish the book and move on to the next. I sometimes slow down my pace of reading so I have the book for a little longer. It doesn’t work well for books I read in book clubs though; I have to keep up with discussions!

Do you find being gifted literature off-putting?

No, I find it thoughtful; all the books I have received as gifts have been based on passionate conversations I have had and someone thought to get me a book based on that conversation. Others have been from my managers who I have been close to, hence why I find being gifted in literature a kind and thoughtful act.

Is writing a book something that appeals to you?

Absolutely! I am toying with writing children’s books and/or poetry books.

How can literature aid in the mentorship process?

Mentorship entails guidance provided by someone who has experience in a particular space (professionally or personally), and one who can pass on some skills and knowledge.

Well, these skills and knowledge can be passed down through books and other forms of literature, enhancing a mentee’s thought process and general outlook on life.

How do books influence your belief in the world as we know it?

Some books I have read have strengthened my core values— either by challenging or endorsing them. I believe that we are what we read, just as we are what we eat. Thus, books have swayed some of the beliefs I have not been passionate about.

How do you carve off time to read?

The Nairobi traffic is quite great for this! I tend to read on my phone when stuck in traffic. I also read during the weekends, especially on Saturdays.

What does your bookshelf say about you?

My bookshelf will tell you that I am an adventurous professional who thrives in creating structure in general and carving out alone time for hobbies.

Which books would you recommend to our readers to read at least once in their lifetime?

Pachinko’ by Min Jin Lee and the ‘Story of Edgar Sawtelle’ by David Wroblewski. Both books highlight the relationships between family members, and how these ties could make or break a human being.