Book Review

A peek into their bookshelves


Catherine Mamwa, Family Bank Senior Manager- Digital Financial Services. PHOTO | POOL


  • There is the temptation to get into social media than reading a book. It is therefore important for young readers to pick the right content.
  • Books can be a window into the mind of the mentorship parties.

Catherine Mamwa

Family Bank Senior Manager- Digital Financial Services

What kind of reader are you?

I am more of a situational reader. Now I’m into non-fiction books.

What is your current favourite book/author?

Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell because it has scenarios of successful people and focuses on where they are from, not what they are like. It’s about software billionaires and their breakthroughs. What is fascinating is that culture, family, generation, and idiosyncratic experiences matter in what you become.

What do you think about the reading culture of young readers?

The current generation reads the most.

But what content are they reading?

The culture of young readers is one of convenience. Now they can read whenever and wherever because they have access to the books on their gadgets. This, therefore, makes it easier to read when a moment arises without the bulkiness and inconvenience of carrying a physical book. However, on the downside, there are many distractions. There is the temptation to get into social media than reading a book. It is therefore important for young readers to pick the right content, set goals on how to read more which should match both their passion and career path.

What was your first interaction with a book?

The Moses series by Barbara Kimenye. I attended Fr Kuhn Academy-Chepterit which had a small library. It had all the series. They were around 11. They improved my vocabulary, and it was the beginning of my reading journey.

Is there a book that speaks to your personality, either who you are or the person you aspire to be?

Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg. It speaks greatly to who I am, how, and what I should do to take charge of my career. It speaks about the need to balance career and parenting. The book also elevates my confidence allowing me not to lower expectations of what I can achieve.

How can the youth be inspired to read more, not just peruse through the internet?

With the younger generation preferring to watch film adaptations instead of reading a hardcopy book, writing and recommending interesting books and having brief book videos and movies on the same will be a great way to captivate them and encourage reading culture.

Do you have a desire to build a library in your rural home or write a book?

I have been thinking about this. I have already conceptualised the idea and I am now working on location identification for the library. I would write a book about animals and my love for cats and what dogs see. ‘The secrets of a dog.’

How do you carve off time to read?

I schedule a specific reading time and utilise unplanned free times such as waiting to commute or waiting to be served in an office. I also give myself targets on books to read in a year, to how many pages per day/week.

Which books would you recommend to our readers?

· ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ by Robert Kiyosaki

· ‘The Richest Man in Babylon’ by George Samuel Clason

· ‘How to Fail’ by Elizabeth Day

· ‘Eat, Pray and Love’ by Elizabeth Gibert

· ‘What the Dog Saw’ by Malcolm Gladwell

· ‘It Starts With a Why’ by Simon Sinek

· ‘A New Earth’ by Eckhart Tolle

· ‘Who’s in the Room?’ by Bob Frisch

Mercy Randa

Managing Partner, P&L Consulting


Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) CEO Geoffrey Odundo with P&L Consulting's managing partner Mercy Randa (C) and Fred Corner, managing partner, head of investor relations, Middle East and Africa, Instictif Partners (R) during the P&L Consulting and Instinctif Partners investors forum with the Nairobi Securities Exchange at the Nairobi Serena Hotel on September 24, 2021. The in-person session provided an overview of investor relations as a critical communications function and highlight principal elements required to secure a shared advantage between the investor and issuing companies. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NAIROBI

What is your current favourite book/author to read?

I love crime, legal drama literature, both fiction and non-fiction. I have been a John Grisham fan for years. I am also up to date with Greg Iles’s work. His books are brilliant.

What was your first interaction with reading a book?

My mother was a literature teacher, so my reading culture was instilled in us pretty early. She brought her books home and she would allow us to read some of them. I accidentally stumbled upon my mum’s or her friend’s Danielle Steel, Sydney Sheldon and Robert Ludlum when I was 14 years old.

Are you a book hoarder?

A little bit. I buy books deliberately. Some I read immediately; some I keep for when the time is right. I am also a bargain hunter so I will be at the discount or used shelves. I don’t think buying books at airports is any cheaper but I often buy as much as I can carry when I travel.

Would you start a library in your home village?

I would but I would possibly run it like a proper national library. Sh20 per day to read on-site and leave the book behind.

Do you re-gift books?

I keep the books I am gifted. When I need to gift books, I’ll make a deliberate purchase.

What’s so hard about letting go of books?

For someone who is building a library slowly, when you give out books, they seldom return and when they do, they will not be in the condition you gave them out. Sometimes you want to refer to something you read in a book during dinner with friends and the book isn’t home. It’s like a joke without a punchline.

Do you find being gifted literature off-putting?

I find it endearing. Everything from poetry to magazines to comic and puzzle books is welcome. I am pointing this out because Christmas is nigh!

Is writing a book something that appeals to you?

I am a bit too critical of myself to write a book but I consider myself a resourceful storyteller.

How can literature aid in the mentorship process?

Primarily as a point of reference but also as good conversation starters as the parties learn each other’s interests. I think when one takes up a mentoring role, understanding your mentee is important. Books can be a window into the mind of the mentorship parties.

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

I have travelled the world through my books. My worldview is broadened, and I am more accommodative of arguments of subjects I would not subscribe to.

How do you carve off time to read?

I find early mornings and late nights are the best for reading.

What does your bookshelf say about you?

That I have a range and love hardbacks.

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

I have a long list, but ‘The Fifth Risk’ by Michael Lewis is a must-read. In as much as the book is set in the US, it is from this book that I fully appreciated civil servants especially those who work in nondescript departments that unbeknownst to us, contribute greatly to the running of the government. I just wish ours was running more efficiently than it is now.

The second one is ‘Havoc of Choice’ by Wanjiru Koinange which is also a good read as we head into the general elections.