Book Review

Quarantine Reading


Daisy Nyaga, Author | 'Beyond 8 to 5 - Critical Lessons by a Retrenchee'. PHOTO | COURTESY



What type of reader are you?

I am a non–fiction lover and a book polygamist. I love biographies, personal development, and entrepreneurial books.

Which books are reading now?

I am reading two books, ‘From Third World to First: The Singapore Story’ by Lee Kuan Yew, and ‘The Total Money Makeover’ by Dave Ramsey. Both books show the power of the human will. Lee Kuan Yew had a strong drive to transform Singapore’s economy, and today we all marvel at the results. ‘The Total Money Makeover’ is a good book for those determined to live debt-free, peaceful lives.

Do you buy books in advance for future reading?

A big chunk of my library is made up of books I bought on travels for future reading, particularly in India. When you travel you’ll always identify unique interesting books of diverse topics and new authors. With reduced travelling over the last three years, I have bought all my books locally. I shop from bookstores as well as from street vendors. You’ll often catch a couple of gems off the street vendors. During this Covid-19 pandemic, I’ve been reading books that were recommended by the Readers & Leaders Book Club, an arm of the League of Young Professionals. So every month, the club members would identify an area of interest and two books on that subject matter, which then becomes our reading list for that particular month.

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

Paperback is my all-time favourite. The feel of paper between my fingers as I turn pages is akin to counting wads of currency notes. It’s a kind of a high, it gives me a sense of joy, fulfilment, only book lovers understand. I scribble my thoughts, newly inspired ideas on a book as I read.

However, I have recently started listening to audiobooks while commuting. Being stuck in traffic no longer irks me, with a good audiobook playing.

Are there books you would say speak to the person you are becoming? Do you believe books change people?

Books change people and I am a testament to that. When you read, wisdom is imparted into you, and it influences your thought process, your subconscious mind, and that ultimately shows in your behavioural tendencies over time. You just can’t remain the same when you read and take to heart the content you are reading. In my case, I can quote so many books and their influence on me. ‘Becoming’ by Mitchelle Obama, is one book that speaks into who I am becoming. I have gained an extra ‘bold voice’ on any platform I am accorded, when I recall her rallying call on the power of using one’s voice. I have also learned how to use my retrenchment story to impact others’ lives positively. The book brings that deep realisation that ‘becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion; a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.’

Which are your earliest reading moments?

Besides the many storybooks dad bought me while in my lower primary, and the action-packed James Hadley Chase novels or the romantic Mills and Boon novels I savoured as a teenager, I treasure the special newspaper-reading ritual with my dad. He is a retired tutor, and brought home a newspaper every single evening. I would pick the newspaper the following day and read it back to back. So every evening when dad came home, our chit chat would be on the previous day’s issues as covered in the newspaper. I’d say that’s where I developed a keen interest in reading a wide array of subjects.

How else have you pass time due this Covid-19 times?

I finally set up my vertical kitchen garden with vegetables and strawberries. It’s been a joy tending to them and enjoying farm-fresh vegetables right off my garden. It's therapeutic. I have also started writing my second book.

Did you discover new hobbies or rekindle past passions?

My daughters cajoled me to join in their endless spontaneous Tik Tok dance routines for fun.

Any book recommendations you can share with readers?

For a beautiful emotional read, start with ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini.

For a real-life experience on how one can overcome job cut, income cut, read ‘Beyond 8 to 5 – Critical Lessons By a Retrenchee’ by Daisy Nyaga.


Norman Mudibo Senior Communication Consultant & Corporate MC. PHOTO | COURTESY



How did you manage to follow the stay-at-home orders for over 100 days?

Every cloud has a silver lining. I have had time to reflect and rectify aspects of my life in line with my five-year personal development plan. I have penned some poems and love letters to my children. I have dedicated time to things that I have not had time to work on in the past. I have developed a great interest in TikTok fun videos where I occasionally join my daughter in fun dances. I also do evening runs and walk with the children just to keep fit and declutter the mind.

Which books are reading?

'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen Covey has become an exceptionally favourite read. It is simply written and the message is crystal-clear as well as practical. It is a masterpiece of the simple yet profound activities that would make one positively impactful to self and others. It gives one the insights on the seven simple habits one should consistently uphold if you are to excel in whatever you do - in the family, with friends, colleagues, all the way to national leadership. It explains how the world's highest achievers in politics, business, academia, sports did make it. That "we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit - a quote by Aristotle.

The second one is 'The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership' by John C. Maxwell. This book explains how one's level of effectiveness is determined by their leadership ability when presented with situations. It provides the foundation and the pillars critical to curating skills necessary in one's leadership journey - whether in the community, church, office, and the country. That leadership prowess does not just come because of the position one holds, privileges one enjoys, or power that one may yield. I have had a mind shift and I deliberately do things in service to others and showing others the how and the way as that is the hallmark of successful leadership. Achieving my dreams as I add value to other people.

The third one is 'Success Through the Storms' by Jayne Stephen and Martin Muteti.

With family staying home too, how are you managing your reading with homeschooling for the children?

I have found a balance as I am also working from home. I have kept my work routine but sparing some time to guide the children in their studies.

Which book has changed you?

'7 Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen Covey

What do you remember most about creating the reading culture growing up?

My mother was a teacher and she would come with several textbooks hence developed that interest. It is a habit that I continue with to-date - to always nourish my knowledge, thinking, and perspectives in life.

Besides reading, have you found more time to perhaps learn new skills or rekindle past passions?

Apart from reading, I now have developed a Netflix addiction. I have been watching Dirty Money, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, and many others. All these are about folks who excelled in making others miserable instead of using their leadership capabilities to do well and add value to humanity.

What do you look forward to most now that Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted?

I like outdoor activities like hiking, playing table tennis, going to game drives, and generally socialising. I look forward to doing an extensive road trip across places I haven't been in a while.