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Book Review

Quarantine reading

Bryan Muindi -FCIArb. Partner Corporate &
Bryan Muindi -FCIArb. Partner Corporate & Commercial Law, TripleOKlaw. PHOTO | COURTESY 

American children’s book series author Mary Pope Osborne once said “Reading is a passport to countless adventures”.

Now that we’re all localised, and can’t really travel, reading opens up a whole world when we can’t leave where we are, it’s dreaming with our eyes open, confirming Rick Hollands words “The world belongs to those who read.”

Let’s delve into the worlds of our readers this week.

Bryan Muindi

FCIArb. Partner Corporate & Commercial Law, TripleOKlaw

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What book(s) are you currently reading?

I am currently reading these three books: Martin Meredith’s The State of Africa, Arundhathi Subramamaniam’s Sadhguru: More than a Life and Benjamin Graham’s The intelligent investor.

Have you bought new books, in the store, online or during past travels?

I recently got Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow from a colleague and The State of Africa from one of my partners at the law firm.

Does that mean you have a book club?

Well, we have an informal book club in that the frequent readers (not nerds) know each other and swap good books every so often.

Do you have a favourite genre? If so, why?

I love narrative-driven spirituality books whether they are based on fictional characters like the shepherd boy in Paulo Coehlo’s Alchemist or accounts of Sadhguru’s awakening.

I have always been a fan of Coelho. I’d spend part of my university holidays in the bookstore reading his books. Couldn’t afford to keep buying them so I’d go in and ask them to open a new book for me and I’d read it to the end then back the next day and so on until I’d read all the books they had that he’s written. Tried that with comic books but they wouldn’t even open one for free.

Wait. So what is narrative-driven spirituality?

These are books on spirituality but told through a story so not like self-help books that give you prescriptions to follow.

Does reading add to your work or it’s for leisure?

Well, all knowledge is power; leisure reading often makes its way into work-related conversations so it’s a bit of both.

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

We certainly have time to pick up a new skill, acquire more knowledge and exercise our brains during this period. There are several universities offering online courses for free at the moment so this is the time to get that additional certification. If one is not academically inclined, leisurely reading can stimulate your brain and help relieve stress for the duration of this global pandemic.

Priscilla Muhiu - Head of Marketing and Growth, Africa, Glovo

Priscilla Muhiu - Head of Marketing and Growth, Africa, Glovo. PHOTO | COURTESY

Priscilla Muhiu

Head of Marketing and Growth, Africa, Glovo

What books are you currently reading?

I am currently reading two books; Zero to One by Peter Thiel and What You Do is Who You Are by Ben Horowitz. These books talk about looking at consumer problems as jobs to be done. The consumer hires or fires a product to do a particular job, .

Have you bought any books recently?

Yes, I bought Zero to One from Textbook Centre.

Which is your favourite genre and why?

I like self-improvement and tech business books. This is because they are useful to my career development. In my industry, keeping up with the trends is a necessity. Understanding how tech is changing or disrupting the current business models is important.

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

Naturally, I am not a reader. I have worked hard to enhance my intellectual curiosity. I started by reading a chapter a day and this has enabled me to grow a reading culture. I also listen to audiobooks while travelling.

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

Reading books keeps your mind occupied, reduces anxiety and therefore, maintaining good mental health. During this season, it’s important to find your favourite, buy a couple of books/audiobooks and listen away. Reading is also a form of relaxation which can be handy during this crisis.

What books would you recommend?

I would recommend Innovators DNA by Clay Christensen. This is because it opened my mind on how to go about solving problems.

Armand Houahu — Managing Director, Text Book Centre.

Armand Houahu, Managing Director, Text Book Centre. PHOTO | COURTESY

Armand Houahu

Managing Director, Text Book Centre.

You work in the book world; how do you stay interested in them?

I believe in the power of information and opinion; an informed and educated citizen contributes highly to society. Can you imagine what 47 million informed and educated citizens can accomplish?

This is the reason why I don’t think of myself as “working in the book world” but more being one of the many contributors to the promotion of education, culture and lifelong learning. Books, of course, are one of my favourite tools to make education and culture accessible to all Kenyans.

Lastly, as the late Jim Rohn famously put it, reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary. I love reading a good book and challenging my family and friends to debate their opinion of the book.

What book(s) are you currently reading?

Dreams of my Father by Barrack Obama, Interventions by Kofi Annan and Quiet: The Power of Introverts, by Susan Cain.

Which is your favourite genre, and why?

I love reading books by African authors, as well as motivational books by some of the greatest minds of our time.

While I always dreamt of becoming a human rights lawyer before being encouraged by my father to go to a business school, the initial dream pushes me to read more about the great Pan African leaders as well as global leaders who made a huge impact on society and their communities.

Secondly, motivational books by standout entrepreneurs and businessmen help any leader to continuously evolve and strive for excellence. From Warren Buffet to Jack Ma and the late Bob Collymore, there is always something unique to learn from and be inspired by each of them.

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

Reading is both for leisure and self-improvement. As a team leader at the largest bookstore in the region, I must continuously read to keep abreast with global trends and stay a step ahead in the industry. While I am traveling, I read for leisure by grabbing a book from the country I have made a stop-over at so I can learn about their culture and ways of doing things.

From a work perspective, I’m fortunate to be able to interact with our young local writers who often send me their books to review and help them be promoted and sometimes published. This is a sign of budding talent which the TBC team highly encourages and will keep supporting.

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

As the internet and the media channels keep giving us the statistics on Covid-19, one needs to find an outlet for the anxiety created. Social distancing makes it impossible to engage in some of my favourite activities such as sports and jazz concerts, which have been known as outlets to stabilise anxiety. To achieve emotional balance and enhance mental health, reading your favourite book helps to keep your mental health in check. Most importantly now than ever before, we need to stay connected, so don’t forget to call your loved ones regularly.

Any book recommendations you can make?

As I’m very curious, my library has a collection that fits all genres. However, my top five recommendations are books that have taught me something that will remain engraved in my memory: Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela Dance of the Jacaranda, by Peter Kimani, Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight, My First Time, by Janet Mbugua Born A Crime, by Trevor Noah.

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