Book Review

If only every home had a mini-library

rhimes

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. FILE PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Summary

  • We should invest in the ambience needed for reading, while tapping into the digital age which has lots of content.
  • Methinks the motivation for the youth shall be the content they interact with and encouragement from their mentors.
  • Local content creators should take advantage of people's love for smartphones and roll out as much content as possible, that would encourage reading.

WILSON MUGAMBI

Architectural Association of Kenya President.

What was your first interaction with reading a book?

It was in my early primary school days, from the age of about 6 or 7 years. My late dad was a Swahili literature and linguistics lecturer, and challenged me to read a lot. By the time I was 10 years old, my neighbour and I, who was also my classmate, would each borrow a "Hardy Boys" novel from the school library on Fridays (we were studying in Lavington Primary), and exchange after three days. That meant that we each read two books per week.

What is your favorite book/author?

My favourite author has always been Jeffrey Archer, though I am also a fan of Paulo Coelho and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. My dad was into African literature, so I have also read books by Chinua Achebe, Ayi Kwei Armah and Sembene Ousmane. Dad had had a mini library at home comprising English and Swahili books. That is where I picked up the books from the aforementioned authors. His love for literature saw him be part of plays such as Burdens, which was a high school set book; he also wrote several books such as a guide to the famous "Amezidi", a set book which I coincidentally studied in my high school days.

Are libraries a thing of the past or we can invest in a hybrid solution, not just the traditional brick and mortar?

I don't think libraries are a thing of the past. If anything, we need more of them. We should invest in the ambience needed for reading, while tapping into the digital age which has lots of content. I would challenge all 47 counties to set up libraries and encourage everyone to utilise them. Local content creators should take advantage of people's love for smartphones and roll out as much content as possible, that would encourage reading.

How has reading gotten you to this place in your life?

Reading has made me appreciate the diversity that's in this world and enabled me to see things from varying perspectives. It has also made me a critical thinker while improving my vocabulary. Suffice to say, one of my strengths is communication/public speaking and it has played a major role in moulding me into the person I am today. I attribute this to the reading culture I had from an early age. My dad would ask me to read newspaper articles to him. He would gauge my grammar from this and help me polish my pronunciation and diction. I am eternally grateful for this.

In what ways do you think the youth could be inspired to read more, not just peruse through brief articles on the internet?

The youth need a conducive environment to read for starters. They also need to interact with stories that they can relate to. Methinks the motivation for the youth shall be the content they interact with and encouragement from their mentors. The content needs to be relatable to them and be a means to make them reflect on their own lives or aspire for more. Reading transports us to a different world and this should challenge the youth positively. I would advocate for a garden/outdoor setup. We have amazing weather here and in the pursuit of sustainable design and construction, having spaces that are awash with natural light and ventilation is easily attainable.

Would you start a library in your home village or improve on your alma mater?

As for starting a library, I could definitely be a part of the team doing so in my village and also in my alma mater. I would go for a collaborative approach bringing together public and private stakeholders. A focus on a digital section is key for such an endeavor.

Would you pen a book? If so, what would it be about?

I am not sure I'd write a book, but I have written a few articles within the built environment circles. Maybe that's a step in that direction...haha!

Architecture is primarily sensory and highly visual, books are theoretical, In what ways do books aid in the transform the client’s or architect’s vision to life size scale?

Books in the architectural realm are definitely more visual than theoretical. Presentation is key in this profession, so clarity in images and details is paramount for any concept to be understood. Books help in keeping a record of information or ideas, but in this age of the internet, I dare say that sites like Pinterest have presented a platform for generating or researching ideas.


Nekesa Wafula,Communications and Knowledge Management Specialist.


Which book are you currently obsessed with?

I am into self-care and self-improvement books. The content in this genre of books acts as life–saving drug. They help me see things from a different perspective. For instance, the dark shades of life suddenly appear grey and, when probed further, begin to reveal hidden colours.

My current read is "After the Rain: Gentle Reminders for Healing, Courage, and Self-Love" by Alexandra Elle. After the Rain is a soulful collection that will have you prepared for everything, no matter what life throws your way. The author delivers 15 lessons on how to overcome obstacles, build confidence, and cultivate abundance, lessons and self-discovery.

I am also obsessed with Shonda Rhimes’ "Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person". The book talks about the power of yes and how you can use it to impact the world by shedding off your fears, standing up for what’s right and speaking it out in love. The book sheds light on how difficult conversations are sometimes necessary for personal growth and the health of your relationships.

In this book, Shonda Rhimes teaches you how to learn to say ‘no’ to things and people that are sucking the life out of you. When you understand that you deserve good things, saying ‘no’ to toxicity becomes so much easier. In addition, Shonda Rhimes encourages people to say yes to love and genuine friendships, say ‘yes’ to help when it is offered to you because you no longer judge yourself for not being a superhero who can do everything. When you open yourself up to love, the universe responds in kind, and you’ll be “standing in the sun” in no time.

What do you make of the Kenyan reading culture?

It has greatly improved. There are currently many book clubs spaces (physically and online) where readers choose a book to read every month, ranging from memoirs, biographies, historical and fiction, thrillers and dystopia, and politics. When they meet, they review books, exchange books, talk about the latest books and where to find them, etc.

What was your first interaction with a book?

At age 6, my dad introduced me to books. He would buy us storybooks and give us deadlines to read and talk about the book. To date, even in his retirement, he still reads and is obsessed with historical books.

Do you have a philosophy with books?

I love self-improvement and relationship building books. Personal and business relationships thrive and die based on who you know—and how well you connect with those people. Strong relationships can get you in front of a key investor and win the bet. Therefore, you have to know how to relate with people, be it in business, family or friendships.

Is there a book that speaks to your personality?

"Winning Words, Winning Life: Fast Track to Life Success" by Victoria Draper. I have learnt the art of speaking life to myself, not judging myself harshly, letting go and just living. Those who know me say I have positively influenced their lives by encouraging, uplifting, and inspiring them. I aspire to live a winning life!

How do books make you emotionally intelligent?

What you read has a significant impact on your personality. Reading helps me to see things from other’s points of view, which makes it easy to understand and relate to them. In a nutshell, reading opens up your worldview!

Which book would recommend to readers?

"Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person", by Shonda Rhimes. This book is something!