Book Review

Quarantine reading

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From left: Jonathan Mueke, Agatha Juma and Moses Kajwang'. BDLife engaged them on the books they are nestling with mentally while in quarantine. FILE PHOTOS | NMG

American jazz legend Miles Davis said time is the only thing. Suddenly, it is in abundance for those working from home and are quarantined, following the government’s directive to tame the spread of coronavirus. Twenty-four hours is a lot of time to fill.

BDLife engaged some of our readers on the books they are nestling with mentally while in quarantine.


Moses Kajwang'

Senator, Homa Bay; Senate Public Accounts and Investments Committee Chairman

What book(s) are you currently reading?

I am reading It’s Our Time to Eat by Michela Wrong, Kenya: A History Since Independence by Charles Hornsby and listening to an audiobook, The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan.

Have you bought new books? (Either in the store, during past travels, are you in a book club or online?)

Whenever I travel always buy a book. This comes with serious challenges, such as trying to find an English book in Moscow, Paris or Madrid. Locally, I buy books from a city store. I am also subscribed to Audible as well as LibriVox for my audio books.

Which is your favourite genre, and why?

I am the type who reads anything and everything. It is nourishing. Specifically, I love to read about real events and stories of real people. Examples of great, recent reads include: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance, Dictatorland by Paul Kenyon and My Story by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. However, my all-time favourite author is Leo Tolstoy, and I have read his books, War and Peace and Anna Karenina severally.

Why do you keep rereading Leo Tolstoy's work?

Leo Tolstoy tells beautiful tales. War and Peace is a story about life in all its phases, joy, sadness, war, peace, youth, age and love.

It also tells the story of the world and the political power games in the Napoleonic age.

Anna Karenina is also a deep story about life... the book boldly tackles adultery, the elephant in many homes!

Someone new to Tolstoy should start with his Twenty Three Tales, and I recommend the story about The Imp and the Crust and How Much Land Does a Man Need?

Is reading for leisure only or to add to your work?

I read mostly for leisure and mix audio books, digital ones and the traditional paperbacks. This adds value to my professional life.

As a political leader, I am expected to know something about everything. You can never live up to this expectation if you do not read.

What do you make of reading and mental health during this Covid-19 pandemic?

Things that are keeping me sane during this period are family, reading and exercise.

I recommend these as basic ingredients to maintain sanity during this period.

 

Agatha Juma

Story Curator and Director, Engage Kenya

What book(s) are you currently reading?

I am reading The Hit by David Baldacci, The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates, Steal the Show by Michael Port and numerous children's story books that I am rereading to my daughter.

Have you bought new books specifically for this quarantine period?

I normally buy books when I travel and in local bookshops.

I’m also part of a book club that meets once a month. It’s called Becoming, because it’s the first book we read.

Which is your favourite genre, and why?

I don’t think I have a general favourite genre. Different genres appeal to me at different times, but I love a well-written work of fiction.

Is reading for leisure only or to add to your work?

Both. Mostly for leisure and edutainment.

What do you make of reading and mental health during this global pandemic period?

Fiction is good for me to get my mind away from all the news and expert opinion of impending doomsday.  I think depending on what one is reading, it can either relieve real world pressure, provide an alternative worldview or heighten stress and pressure.

 

Jonathan Mueke

Executive Director, Spartan Group and former Nairobi Deputy Governor

What book(s) are you currently reading?

I am reading simultaneously: Powerful by Patty McCord and Eat that Frog! by Brian Tracy. I am also reading a compilation of speeches given by world leaders, compiled into a publication titled Speeches that Changed the World.

 

Have you bought new books?

Yes, I usually buy books from bookstores or soft copies from Amazon Kindle. I subscribe to a book app called Blinkist that summarises books which enables me to get important content from a book in 15 minutes—without having to read the entire book. The App has an audio feature which allows me to listen to the book when I am in the gym or out for a run.

I try to read one book a month and listen to Blinkist two or three times a week.

Which is your favourite genre, and why?

I read leadership books as well as memoirs so as to grow in my leadership journey.

Memoirs help me gain knowledge from the world’s greatest political and business leaders.

Is reading for leisure only or to add to your work?

I read mainly to learn. Reading enables me to borrow someone else brains (the authors).

What do you make of reading and mental health during this period?

Reading in this global pandemic crisis will distract people from all the negative news which has the potential to create anxiety, panic and depression.