Book Review

Quarantine Reading


Patricia Kiwanuka and Prisca Aroko (right). PHOTOS | COURTESY

William Faulkner, a writer and Nobel Prize laureate said "Read, read, read. Read everything." BDLife spoke to our readers on their best book picks this season.


PATRICIA KIWANUKA, Managing Director, Revenu Stream

What book(s) are on your current reading list?

Twin Ambitions, My Autobiography’ by Mo Farah, ‘Our Iceberg is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions’ by Holger Rathgeber and John Kotter, ‘The Three Laws of Performance: Rewriting the Future of Your Organisation and Your Life’ by Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan and ‘Dinner with Mugabe’ by Heidi Holland.

Any specific one(s) that you must read before calling it a day?

Daily Reflections’ a spiritual reflection followed by a journal on the gratitude list.

Do you bulk buy books in advance for future reading, or did you specifically buy new books recently for this period?

I buy in advance, which has worked wonders during this lockdown period, here at mum’s place in Embu. I also enjoy going back to the previous reading which I find on the bookshelves here at home.

It is like reacquainting myself with old stories and friends. I also find that I buy books at the local supermarket and bookstore especially fiction novels which are an easy read. Right now, I have copies of James Patterson, Greg Iles, and Sandra Brown waiting to start on.

What book(s) fit or match your personality?

Our Iceberg is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions’ and ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ — both are simple, funny, and direct stories that help one pause and reflect.

I enjoy learning through stories and the simplicity of these themes keep them memorable and applicable in the different situations of life. The second one is ‘Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time’ by Brian Tracy. The imagery in this book is clear, there is no room for procrastination! Each day is a fresh opportunity to be of service and make a difference— even if it means starting with the worst activity if anything the rest of the day becomes bearable. It reminds me that it is the small consistent steps that add up to the final picture of success, it not about doing only what I enjoy! Life happens, and I don’t always know the end, but I so far I haven’t been disappointed.

Which books shaped your life and career?

The Bible. I love the stories, they are great for leadership tips and the Proverbs never get stale. I try to go through the whole Bible like a novel, and the best part now is I no longer try to find the hidden meaning. Then there is ‘The Secret Letters of the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ by Robin Sharma. It helped me put into perspective many things and find the right balance for what matters. I am enjoying life each day – fully – and plan to die empty with no regrets.

How did you develop a reading culture? And how do you fight to maintain it given the intensity of your work?

Reading was part of life growing up with a mother who was a tutor. It is a way to wind down the day before sleep which included Bible stories read out aloud, detective stories in my teens, and later on fiction reading. As a rule, I don’t work after hours (unless necessary) which allows enough time to get home unwind and find a good book. Travelling also made reading even more possible, there is nothing like a good book at the airport lounge, and between movies on a flight.

What are your top recommendations?

Who Moved My Cheese?’ by Spencer Johnson. This remains my go-to book whenever I find myself resisting change or taking a new turn in life. It takes less than two hours to read it and immediately I laugh at myself for stagnating!

My Native Roots: A Family Story', by John Barrage Wanjui’ is the second book.

I worked with Dr Wanjui, he was my chairman. When we spoke, he found it interesting that I had a dual heritage and that I hadn’t explored fully. I’m Baganda.

The third book is ‘The Billionaire Within’ by Wale Akinyemi. The book is an easy read, African, and it resonates with my values – the billionaire is within me and I need to appreciate me first, for the world to see my value.


PRISCA AROKO, Voracious reader

What type of reader are you?

I’d say I am a voracious reader. I am always reading things that I find interesting or things that I would like to know and understand better. Every beginning of the year, I set my reading goals of 52 books, which translates to one book per week. Then I pick books from lists shared by global leaders. But I also have three book clubs and a YouTube channel where I review books once in a while.

Which book(s) are on your current reading list?

I set a theme of the books I read. So this year, I’m reading books authored by CEOs and books on business and money. I’m reading ‘Modern Etiquette’ by Myka Mier, ‘David and Goliath’ by Malcolm Gladwell, ‘I Love Capitalism’ by Ken Langone, and ‘More Than Enough’ by Elaine Welteroth.

Do you bulk buy books in advance for future reading?

I’m a bookaholic. I can be walking on the street and a title catches my attention, I will pause, read the synopsis and buy it, even if I will not be reading it at that particular time. I buy books in bulk sometimes. I have books unread at home.

Between the traditional hard copy books and digital/audiobooks, which are your go-to, and why?

I am yet to fall in love with audiobooks. I can do a podcast but I cannot listen to an audiobook. Because I love reading it at my pace and get to go through the emotions the book evokes in me. I hardly get that with an audiobook. But, I love soft copy versions that I can read on apps like Any Books as well as in hard copy.

Are there books you would say speak to the person you are becoming?

I have so many books that gave me the ‘aha’ moment and got me questioning things, wanting more, unlearning things, understanding people better and just creating and building my own company as well.

Books changed me, how I see life, how I see myself to some extent, and how creative I can be. I know people who have struggled with self-esteem issues and ended up picking a couple of books and blossomed. I know people who have struggled with managing money and read a few books and they are not only managing their finances but are experts in the industry.

What are your favourite genres?

read everything except romance and thrillers. I like political, business, memoirs, and inspirational books written by people who’ve battled things in life and came out unscathed and bold enough to share their stories. I also love comic books, they balance out the serious things that I read.

Which are your earliest reading memories?

Well, I started reading pretty early in life back in primary school. My mother had a friend who used to make my hair. I would enter her house, say hello to the people I’d find and she would tell me to go to the library to wait for her. Each time I got there, I would pick a book, and since she never gave out her books, I would read so fast. I still remember those memories to date. That’s how I fell in love with books.

Have you been binge-watching anything?

Yes, most shows I used to watch a long time ago, I have re-watched all episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’ from the first season, I have also re-watched ‘Suits’, ‘Hart of Dixie’, ‘If Loving You is Wrong’, ‘Queen of the South’, ‘Prison Break’ and ‘Claws.’ I am still trying to summon all the energy within me to watch ‘Breaking Bad’, everyone thinks that it is a good show. I have a contrary opinion, but I will try to watch it before normalcy returns, because that means I will never watch it, unfortunately.

Have you found new hobbies or rekindled past passions during this season?

Yes, I have gone back to learning how to bake and roast. I have also found a passion for dancing too. I have built a company based on my passion. I’m taking time each dayto nourish it, learn from mentors, and e-connect with people in the same industry.

Any books you can recommend?

I Think Therefore I Play’ by Andrea Pirlo. I also loved Oprah Winfrey’s ‘What I Know for Sure’ which makes you question the things you sure should know about who you are.

I highly recommend ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ by Mitch Albom, a very interesting book that shows how we chase after things that are all vanity while forgetting and neglecting the important things that we should be focusing on and from the perspective of someone who has few days left on earth.

Other books include ‘Men Explaining Things to Me’ by Rebecca Sonlit, ‘The Dip’ by Seth Godin, ‘5AM Club’ by Robin Sharma, ‘The Sun and Her Flowers’ by Rupi Kaur, ‘Right People, Right Place, Right Plan’ by Jentezen Franklin, ‘The Water Dancer’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates, ‘Of Pawns and Players’ by Kinyanjui Kombani.