New York Times “By the Book” Tag : Insights on My Reading Habits

Yesterday,  I enjoyed watching  Max of WellDone Books do the New York Times  “By the Book ” tag and I was dying stationery envy when he flashed his beautiful journal. The tag was originally created by Danish Booktuber Marie Berg based on By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York Times Book Review.  

You can watch Max’s  video here and Marie’s here.

But without much further ado,  here are my thoughts:

NYT Tag Collage

What book is on your nightstand now?

The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley and The State of Africa by Martin Meredith. More on these in upcoming posts.

What was the last truly great book that you read?

I was drawn to The Invention of Wings  By Sue Monk Kidd because I  caught  The Secret of  Lives of Bees midway on TV sometime in 2015.   Part historical fiction,  part biography showed the relationship between  Handful, a Coloured slave to  Sarah  Grimke who was her owner but later became an abolitionist.  The book is well-researched and eye-opening.

So Long a  Letter by  Mariama Ba proves that dynamite comes in small packages. I  did a full review here. But I have to say  I was underlining every other line because of the numerous lines that were packed with punch.  I loved this missive between best friends and I ended up wishing that someone also write me one.

If you could meet any writer – dead or alive – who would it be? And what would you want to know?

Ruta Sepetys.  I am a History junkie because I  believe that History is cyclical so it’s better to get to learn them. I also resonated with Ruta Sepetys’ motivation for writing for Salt to the Sea.  (See my review here).  She says that one of the ways that we can honour  the victims of the atrocities is  by sharing their stories.I watched her in a couple of videos and she seems to be a down to earth person that I could hang out with. I would love to hear about her travels  and her career.

What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

I recently unhauled  some books so at the moment, there’s no “weird” book. But I  have to admit that I had Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Rodrick Rules and Cabin Fever.The author made stickmen look pretty good and it was pretty funny. I guess I am a  kid at heart.  Plus, at  myI got them for KES 100  (less £1) at mylocal Inama Bookshops. Though, I am open to  reading  books outside my comfort zone, so please leave some recommendations below…

How do you organize your personal library?

I have divided my shelves between non-fiction and fiction. Due to limited space, I have put my  read books at the back and the TBR ones at the forefront.  I have put  series together e.g. Dear America and Christy Miller

What book have you always meant to read and haven’t gotten around to yet? Anything you feel embarrassed never to have read?

Ahem! Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy. I  have never picked up any of  their  works. Well I have  Hardy’s  Mayor of Casterbridge and  Tess of the D’Urbervilles  on my shelf and every time I have picked them up,  I was restless and perhaps I was not  ready for them. But I really  enjoyed  Far from the Madding Crowd  movie  and I have heard so many good things about Hardy so I am determined to get  through my  first Hardy  over the next six months.

I am also embarrassed that I have not read a lot of Kenyan literature  written  by Kenyans. I have  Dust on my shelf for a few years (*cringe*)  and hope that I will get to it soon enough. This was also the  motivation behind my #2016KEBookworm reading challenge

Disappointing, overrated, just not good: what book did you feel you were supposed to like but didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?

Rising Strong by Brene Brown and Yes, Please by Amy Poehler.  I think that I  heard about these books  from every single  corner of the  internet so that by the  time I finally  got to read  them, I felt that they were lacklustre and that  I was not  learning  anything  new.   In the case of Rising Strong, I would like to read her earlier books, Gifts of Imperfection or Daring Greatly.  As for  books written by  comedians, next time I will go for audiobooks read by the actual  author  for that extra time

What kinds of stories are you drawn to? Any you stay clear of?

Coming of age, self-discovery, the-struggle-is-real with witty dialogue kinda stories and  a bit of  romance never  hurt anyone.

I stay  clear of stories with a  strong language  because I believe that  you can be authentic without having to cuss everybody out.

If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?  

Les Misérables.  This should not be a shocker.. I have  written about this  book in a previous post and mentioned it severally here. In short, its talks about class struggle, the law and redemption.

What do you plan to read next?

Between Shades of Grey, Tess of the D’Urbervilles and maybe Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.  This is all part of my conquering my  plan to read  books that I have on my shelves.

You might also enjoy Marie Berg’s video on Nordic Literature

 Note: All book pictures were from Goodreads and  edited in Pic Monkey. This post does not contain affiliate links.

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3 Responses to New York Times “By the Book” Tag : Insights on My Reading Habits

  1. I feel you on the Dickens and Hardy. Haven’t read either and I’m a classics junkie! Hoping to get Les Miserables this month 🙂


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