If I told you to start your year with a book in hand, which one would it be? Better yet, have you just made a resolution to read 52 books in 2018? Good on you! I have every intention of keeping up my own reading. If you have not yet started reading, or dropped reading a while ago, welcome back.
As an adult reader, I started looking at writers who put black and African diaspora protagonists at the forefront of their stories.When I was at school, my primary and secondary schools each had a well stocked library and the curriculum had us in the library for the national radio weekly lesson. Even now, I marvel at how a public school in Kenya in the 1990s had such foresight. One of the most popular collections was the African Writers’ Series. At that time, I knew little about writers from other parts of Africa, and I was especially taken by the stories of adventures in West Africa and South Africa through writers like Achebe, and Gordimer. These short books, often 100-200 pages long planted a connection with the rest of Africa, and the idea that the lives we lived were ordinary and yet extraordinary enough for someone to write about. I am still looking for stories like these.
The Peculiar Kenyan by @sunnysunwords ; One Day I Will Write About This Place by @BinyavangaW ; Red Soil and Roasted Maize by @RasnaWarah ;Halfway Between Dundori and Nairobi by @MuthoniGarland I have bought (i have the receipts!!!) and read.
— JosephineK (@sunnykay) December 10, 2017
Never having been much of a sci-fi reader, I have now finished Octavia Butler”s Parable of the Sower, and I have just started Parable of the Talents. Last year, I had the pleasure of picking up a couple of her books at a terrific price, on Kindle Day. Butler, a MacArthur Genius Fellowship awardee (1995) was until her passing on in 2006 a brilliant writer of science fiction. She used to affirm herself, writing famously : ” I am a bestselling writer, I write bestselling books”, noted by NPR in 2017 as one way that she writes herself into her story. I am enjoying reading her rendering of life in 2026, which startlingly captures a few too-close-to-real events we have already seen in 2018, yet she wrote this in 1993. She writes a future much like the world we live in, where there is racial and gender diversity and everyone has to do their part to make each dystopian future liveable. If I find myself in Southern California, I will surely visit the Huntington, where her papers have resided since 2008
Free books! What? A book at no cost to you – especially after you compile a book list at least 100 titles long? (Looking at myself as I write this to you!) While in Kenya this past Christmas, I captured my very own free e-reader. Well, actually, I learned about World Reader, which boasts a library of over 40,000 books in 43 Languages at no cost, and in partnership with authors, publishers and other friends. How cool. I cannot wait to put some titles on a smart device and hit the year reading everywhere.
I hope you can start on your own list of books to read this year, whether you start with just a few pages, a favourite poem, or even just finishing the local newspaper cover to cover,
Please let me know in the comments section what you suggest I read this year. And your go-to books.
Happy new year,