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Book Review

Quarantine reading

Sharon Chakava-Banda.
Sharon Chakava-Banda. PHOTO | COURTESY 

Sharon Chakava-Banda,

Operations director, East Africa Educational Publishers (EAEP)

What book(s) are on your reading list?

• An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

• My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

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• The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

• I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

• The Wayward Vagabond by Max Kahende.

I am part of a book club that reads books by African authors. It has helped me be consistent with my reading.

Any specific one on your bedside table that you must read before calling it a day?

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi. It is a sequel from Children of Blood and Bone. It is an amazing book.

Do you bulk buy books say during past travels for future reading, or did you specifically buy new books to read during this stay at home period?

When travelling, I bulk buy especially if it's a long airport layover. I carry at least two to three books every flight. It helps in case I don't like a certain book. During this Covid-19 period, I bought five books. I am almost done with them so I will be going back to the bookshop soon.

Do you have a favourite genre?

I am a fan of thriller, crime books. Authors like John Grisham, Lee Child (Jack Reacher fame), or Karen Rose are easy reads especially when you do not want to think too much.

Why do you read?

I have always read for leisure since I was a little girl. My father is a publisher and we had this big library in the house when growing up and he inculcated in me an appetite for leisure reading. At EAEP, we are promoting Lifelong Learning. We want to remind students that reading is something they will need to do beyond their exams and university.

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

Reading can help us stay informed about Covid-19 so that we can know how best to stay safe and it also acts as an escape from reality. Many of us are struggling to cope with the loss of jobs, social isolation from loved ones and friends. At EAEP, we have made our books available in digital formats. For Sh100, one can buy a book.

Valerie Lwile

Valerie Lwile. PHOTO | COURTESY

Valerie Lwile, Blogger

What book(s) are on your reading list?

I'm reading I Love Capri by Belinda Jones. I first discovered the author in 2015 when I also discovered the second-hand book vendors who sell a book for Sh100. I picked 10 books from one vendor that day and one of them was a Belinda Jones novel that I bought solely because it had a beautiful cover. I ended up loving the book and the author.

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

Nope. I prefer to read one book at a time, so whatever I am reading during the day is also what I read at night before I sleep.

Do you bulk buy books in advance say during past travels, for future reading, or did you buy new books to read now?

Whenever I am in the Central Business District I must check out the second-hand book vendors to see what they have. Since they cost Sh100, I buy books mostly on a whim e.g. if they have a beautiful cover, an interesting title, or if they have "Oprah's Book Club" written on the cover.

I have 55 books on my bookshelf that I am yet to read. I am building my library one book at a time, and I hope that if I have children they will be readers as well so they can enjoy my collection.

Do you have a favourite genre?

Romance, young adult, and mystery and thriller are my favourite genres. But if I had to pick just one it would be romance because I am a hopeless romantic!

Why do you read?

Definitely for leisure. There are fewer things more enchanting than losing myself in a good story. Judith Butler says "we lose ourselves in what we read, only to return to ourselves, transformed and part of a more expansive world." Reading is my passport to other countries. I have been to Manhattan, Rome, Nigeria, London, Paris, etc. all from the comfort of my bed.

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

Books don't offer real escape, but they can stop a mind scratching itself raw, wrote David Mitchell, the author of Cloud Atlas. This quote succinctly captures my thoughts about reading and mental health. Stephen King describes books as uniquely portable magic. Books are the perfect form of escape because for the few minutes or hours that you read you get to leave your worries behind in the "real world" as you lose yourself in the author's world.

This is different from watching a movie/series because with TV the images are already created for you, but with books, you get to choose the visuals for yourself and that is where the magic of books comes alive. The mental stimulation and engagement that comes with visualising an author's world for yourself as you lose yourself in a story is the reason I believe books offer a mental reprieve in a way that no other medium can.

Nelly Maguta

Nelly Maguta. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Nelly Nanai Maguta,

Marketing & Client Relations Manager City Mall, Nyali- Mombasa

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

I'm re-reading Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson and Permission Marketing by Seth Godin. I buy my books from Text Book Centre or Paper Connections. I am also in a book club whereby we exchange books. Pre-Covid we would meet once a month and share our reads.

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

The Bible, which helps keep me wise and grounded. I also have Ikigai by Albert Liebermann and Hector Garcia. I highly recommend Ikigai and Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert if looking for random picks.

Do you bulk buy books in advance say during past travels, for future reading, or did you specifically buy new books for this stay-at-home homestay period?

No, I don't bulk buy because I will either be unmotivated due to a busy schedule or hurriedly go through the pile out of curiosity. I have always been a reader and a writer. In my first and second jobs, I was a writer and editor.

Do you have a favourite genre?

I prefer thrillers, intellectual reads that mentally stimulates me. I'm looking to gain knowledge and skills not only for work but also for life hacks, DIYs, etc. Intellectual books help in vocabulary expansion and stronger analytical skills.

Why do you read?

For leisure, word, and education. For leisure, I prefer general life hacks, health DIYs, parenthood particularly single parenting and blended families. Reading has improved my concentration levels, writing skills, and vocabulary. Whenever I read, there is a dictionary next to me.

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

I am a multitasker but books help me sit still and stop watching TV. It's like yoga for my mind.

Covid-19 has affected many of us. Books entertain us, helping ease stress, we can annotate them and dog-ear pages for future reference.

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