Book Review

The books they’ve read

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Anne Kariuki. PHOTO | POOL

Anne Kariuki, Group Reservations and Revenue Manager Hemingways

We’re in the second quarter of the year, have you achieved the reading goals you had set so far??

I started slow but a friend nudged me back into rhythm. I am well into the pace I like to achieve, one book or two a month. Books offer a safe escape from constant worry and uncertainty, especially in this pandemic.

Which book(s) are you currently obsessed with?

Self-help, motivational, and career development books. I will also read a good mystery read that is intriguing. From ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale to Johnson Spencer’s ‘Out of the Maze’. I also enjoy books like ‘Sabrina’ by Nick Drnaso and ‘25 Ways to Win With People’ by John C.

Maxwell which is a great career book on interpersonal relationships. I do read the Bible from time to time for spiritual nourishment.

What do you make of the Kenyan reading culture?

There is a lot of avid readers in Kenya, maybe not so many as we would desire. The fact that newspapers are still in business is proof that society still reads for information, for entertainment etc.

However, it is evident that with little use of libraries, now frequented by university students doing research and want to complete a thesis, reading for leisure is not a number one choice for many people. Digital growth and awareness have also changed us.

What was your first interaction with a book?

Lady Bird book series that my father brought home before I started school. Later, I read out loud Margaret Ogola’s ‘The River and the Source.’ In high school, I read lots of Mills & Boon novels.

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

Louise Hay’s ‘The Power is Within You'. While life piles and throws a lot at us, it is only us that can detangle ourselves from past trauma, live our today happily without fear, stress, or guilt. We are responsible for our tomorrow by what we do today. This book is a true definition of 'going within'.

Do you have a philosophy on books?

If it explores progress or change or touches on behaviourism, if it is uplifting and inspiring, then I read it.

How do you encourage young readers to read more?

I encourage young people to bring along a book for road trips, or train rides. When the calm is on and the mind wanders, feed it with a good read. There is so much information in books, some creations have come from people who read ideas in books and put them into use.

Young people do not need to feel the pressure to do all things new and recreate the wheel, they can bring the ideas in books to life. For the little ones, writing a composition in school need not be a daunting task because the teacher wants to check on their creativity.

Give them books while on holidays, ask them how the story goes. It will also make them start having ideas and can use the skills.

Which is the one book that you’d recommend to our readers to read at least once in their lifetime?

‘Stay Alive All Your Life’ by Norman Vincent Peale.

Laura Kenyani, Compliance Manager at SportPesa

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We’re in the second quarter of the year, have you achieved the reading goals you had set so far?

I set out to read 30 books this year. I have read 10 so far. I just started on the 11th. I believe I will reach my goal.

Which book(s) are you currently obsessed with?

African fiction and poetry from the Middle East. I find them very relatable. Given the similarities of the stories, Africa is a country. Some that I can not put down are: Elnathan John’s ‘Be(coming) Nigerian’ has satirical scenarios that resonate across most of Africa concerning the abusive relationships with politicians, religion, love, law enforcement and even mechanics among others.

In ‘The Other Woman,’ Grace Ogot writes a short story titled ‘The Professor’; about how a Kenyan extended family looks upon the ‘one that made it’ and how it becomes their place to lift the rest of the family, sometimes at a great personal cost. Jackson Biko has, in ‘Drunk’, given a story about that very promising family member, who loses himself to addiction.

What do you make of the Kenyan reading culture?

I believe it is understated. Several people read. The blanket statement that “Kenyans don’t read is untrue.”

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

Not one specific book. I do not believe that there can be one book that would speak to an entire personality…people are different things and books largely stick to specific themes.

Do you have a philosophy on books?

Oh Yes! My philosophy has always been “Read whatever makes you happy.”

How do books make you emotionally intelligent, and not just raise your IQ?

Books open your eyes to people, places and situations that you may never encounter even in three lifetimes. Books will take you on a mental journey; of joy and laughter, of hope, of sadness, mystery, sometimes of despair and may unravel something in you that you may otherwise never have known existed. The exposure you find in books, regardless of genre is priceless.

In what ways can the younger ones be encouraged to explore their intellectual capabilities in this digital era?

Start them early with digital reading apps/audiobooks, private and public libraries. Allow reading to be fun for children by encouraging them to read beyond set books and organising fun activities like acting out the characters between themselves.

Read and discuss books objectively and not just to cram for the exams. Do not punish children for wanting to read more fiction. Also, parents/guardians should recognise that knowledge is not just constrained to typical books, more ways of imparting knowledge and entertainment have emerged like podcasts and blogs.

Which is the one book that you’d recommend to our readers to read at least once in their lifetime?

‘I Do Not Come to You by Chance’ by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. The book is hilarious and it is always good to find a reason to laugh.