In 2020 I am choosing to practise contentment. It is safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic played a major role in helping me hunker down and use a lot of the things that I had put off for the future including reading books. Since we are at the half-year mark, I thought, let’s see how far, I exercised contentment in my reading:
- Goodreads goal to 52 books: Thanks to being indoors for the last three months, I to hit this goal by mid-June. Going forward, this is one metric that I don’t think I will give much importance.
- Go on a book-buying ban for at least one month: While I was not able to resist buying books in the first three months, I did not purchase as many books I would have; partly due to the pandemic. From Textbook Centre, I grabbed Eugenia Kim’s The Calligrapher’s Daughter (on sale) and Kim Scott’s Radical Candor because I have heard a lot of buzz around it. Wangari Maathai’s The Challenge for Africa caught my eye at Carrefour and I grabbed Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend when I saw them at Half-Priced Books on IG just before we went into self-isolation in March.
- Read the unread books that I have on my bookshelves (physical and digital): I am happy to report that I am making significant progress on my TBR. I realised that I don’t have like every book that has appeared on NYT and WSJ bestseller lists. My bookshelves should reflect issues I care about and not invoke feelings of guilt and shame. So, I have been quick to DNF and/or to purge books that no longer sparked joy. Though I am yet to find new homes for some of them so I have a carton and a shopping bag in a corner awaiting disposal.
Plans for July -December 2020
- Reaching 90 per cent on NetGalley by the end of the year. I am currently at 77 per cent so that means I need to read around 27 books from my online shelf.
- Still, in the spirit of reading books from my shelves, I am picking out books that have been on multiple TBRs and giving them last chances before disposing of them.
- My biggest challenge going forward will be reading more books in Swahili. The untimely demise of Prof. Ken Walibora earlier in April was a blow to Swahiliphone authors in the country. It was also a stark reminder of how underappreciated Swahili literature is in Kenya. Kenyan book blogger Muthoni is currently reading Walibora’s Kidagaa Kimemwozea along with the BookishPipo bookclub throughout June. While I will not be participating in this readathon because I do not have this book, I will be reading his other book Ndoto ya Almasi that one of my sisters read in high school. Unfortunately, Prof. Walibora’s books are not available in English.
- Reading own voices especially from the African continent: As I mentioned before learning French opened my world to Western African literature. I have tried out, Mariama Ba, Gael Faye and Alain Mabanckou. But I am curious about other francophone authors. Angola fascinates me and would like to learn about Equatorial Guinea. Muthoni compiled a list of books from all around Africa that does not include Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa. David Evans, a development economist also has been reading books across the continent and has interesting reviews.
How are you doing with your reading goals and intentions? As businesses continue to re-open across the county, have you been book shopping at your usual inama bookshop haunts? What safety and precautionary measures are you taking while buying physical books? Let me know.
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