Tag Archives: Books reading

Bookish Sunday Reads

When do you get time to read?

Photo by Godisable Jacob on Pexels.com
  • Post baby, I have not been able to get back to sleeping through the night consistently so when I get up, I fire up my kindle and read and then if it’s an interesting book, I might read for another 90 – 120 minutes
  • As I wait in a queue, or for an appointment. While I wait for someone.
  • If the book is really good, I also will read over lunch hour.
  • Certain TV shows don’t really require a lot of attention so I might read or read during the commercials or in between two episodes.
  • Obviously before I sleep.

55 Books in 2021

I began the year with no reading goal and I hoped that along the way I would read some good books and boy did I. Also, I read some duds along the way and by about September, I figured that I might hit a book a week target – this I did and surpassed slightly. Previous year lists are available here: 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Some overall thoughts, I got into audio books for the first time and since I also read ebooks, I don’t really care how the material is presented, books are books. I got into some new Australian authors (and podcasts but that’s another post altogether). I tried to read the Women’s Prize shortlist and got through 4.25 out of 6 of them. I also read some non-fiction, sometimes for work and others just out of interest.

Key: *** Highly Recommend ** Yeah, why not read it *Nah, only read if you have nothing else (No star) I have no feelings on the book

See the chronological list below and some thoughts I had as I finished the books.

  1. Sex and Vanity – Kevin Kwan *
  2. Destination Wedding – Diksha Basu – **
  3. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows: A novel – Balli Kaur Jaswal ***
  4. The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters – Balli Kaur Jaswal **
  5. Dreamland – Sam Quinones ***
  6. A Bollywood Affair – Sonali Dev
  7. Pride and Prejudice, and other flavours – Sonali Dev **
  8. The Wedding Party – Jasmine Guillory *** LOVE ALL HER WORK
  9. Recipe for Persuasion- Sonali Dev **
  10. The Prenup: A Love Story – Lauren Layne
  11. The Windfall – Diksha Basu. HARD PASS. The book did not start, get better or finish. The only interesting side note is that she is the daughter of a superstar Economist, Kaushik Basu.
  12. Talking to Strangers – Malcolm Gladwell. Look I love Malcom’s books, all of them but this is THE WORST of his books. Wouldn’t recommend it.
  13. Nothing Ventured – Jeffrey Archer
  14. Hidden in Plain sight – Jeffrey Archer
  15. The Family Gift – Cathy Kelly
  16. The Fifth Letter – Nicola Moriarty ***
  17. Those Other Women – Nicola Moriarty ***
  18. Becoming Men – Malose Langa ***. Possibly one of the best non-fiction reads for 2021.
  19. The Perfect Mother – Aimee Molloy **
  20. The Hundred Wells of Salaga – Aysha Harun Atta **
  21. Grown Ups – Marian Keyes ***. LOVED IT. Therapeutic.
  22. Manchester Happened – Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. *** Best Short Stories.
  23. Eating from one Pot: dynamics of survival in poor households in South Africa – Sarah Mosoetsa ***.
  24. How The One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House – Cherie Jones*. Didn’t like or get the story. I also think it could have been a short story.
  25. The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman ***. Lovely little read.
  26. Yellow Means Stay: An Anthology of Love Stores from Africa. DO NOT READ. Problematic collection that included a paedophile’s “love” as one of these love stories. Yuck, yuck and yuck. Reached out to the editors and their response was lukewarm at best.
  27. Transcendent Kingdom – Yaa Gyasi ***
  28. Unsettled Ground – Claire Fuller ***. Loved it! Finished it and immediately smiled. The book starts so slowly and there is build up but you can’t quite see it. I was rooting for Jeanie all along and it was nice seeing her develop through the course of the book.
  29. The Wives – Tarryn Fisher *. It’s like two books in one. First half great! The second, confused, hurried. Still not sure what actually happened at the end there.
  30. That Summer – Jennifer Weiner ***. It really got under my skin in a good way.
  31. Here Comes the Sun – Nicole Dennis-Benn *** This book sat in my heart really painfully. It was tragic, it felt like poverty porn, relentlessly painful.
  32. Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at Saint Paul’s School – Shamus Rahman Khan *** . A serious contender for Best Non-Fiction.
  33. The Weekend – Charlotte Wood ***. WOW. I did not expect to be enchanted by this book as much as I was. Please read it.
  34. Good Company – Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney ***
  35. The Nest – Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney *
  36. Risen Motherhood: Gospel Hope for Everyday Moments – Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler ***
  37. Love in Colour – Bolu Babalola *. This was one of those Bookstagram made me read this and it was honestly CRAP.
  38. People we meet on vacation – Emily Henry ***
  39. The Other Black Girl – Zakiya Dalila Harris *. I wanted to love this book but nah, I don’t get the hype.
  40. The Kindest Lie – Nancy Johnson *** READ IT, JUST READ IT.
  41. 491 Days – Winnie Madikizela Mandela. Another non-fiction read that was a total education for me, I realised I never understood or made up my own mind about Winnie Mandela.
  42. The Rose Code – Kate Quinn ***
  43. Snapped – Alexa Martin **
  44. The Huntress – Kate Quinn *
  45. Other Women – Cathy Kelly
  46. All Gomorrahs are the Same – Thenjiwe Mswane **
  47. How we get free – Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor *
  48. Apples Never Fall – Liane Moriarty *** (Definitely a top read contender)
  49. Party of Two – Jasmine Guillory ***
  50. The Mother In Law – Sally Hepworth ***
  51. The Secrets of Midwives – Sally Hepworth *
  52. The Man who Died Twice – Richard Osman
  53. The Family Next Door – Sally Hepworth **
  54. The Alice Network – Kate Quinn ***
  55. The Evening and the Morning – Ken Follet *** WOW

TL:DR version

Top five fiction:

Still being read

  1. No one succeeds alone – Robert Refkin
  2. The sum of small things – Elizabeth Currid-Halkett
  3. Long Bright River – Liz Moore
  4. Disappearing Church – Mark Sayers 

Couldn’t finish

  1. No one is talking about this – Patricia Lockwood. I do not get the writing style of this book and DO NOT UNDERSTAND how it made it onto so many long and short lists. AVOID.
  2. Black Buck – Mateo Askaripour. I HATED the narrator’s voice and could not get past the first ten pages.

Any books you read last year that stood out to you?

A Friday in July

From my favourite spot in the internet:

* a TV show, movie or book you’re into right now
* what you’re looking forward to
* something that’s worrying you
* a dessert you’ll never refuse
* would you rather have flight vs. invisibility?

Right now I am reading some awesome books: The Weekend, Good Company, Unsettled Ground. Nothing really good on TV right now.

I am looking forward to taking my daughter for a visit to my parents later next month.

Worried about whether we will ever get to herd immunity with such varied responses to the COVID-19 vaccine.

I will never say NO to ice cream. Nope!

I would rather have invisibility. All the conversations I will be able to listen to and places I can hang out and not worry about being seen.

What is your response to this pop quiz?

A Bookclub of Two

The little Miss is “reading”:

I am reading this book, struggling to get into it but I really loved Beneath the Lion’s Gaze so I am sure it will be good too.

The Shadow King - LONGLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE 2020 (Paperback, Main): Maaza Mengiste

Of all the things I want to pass onto my daughter, I want her to love to read, read widely.

21 books in 2019

photo of woman holding book

Photo by Ree on Pexels.com

I read 38 books in 2018 but with the birth of my daughter I only made it to 21 last year which I am very proud of.

See the full list below.

Key: *** Highly Recommend ** Yeah, why not read it *Nah, only read if you have nothing else (No star) I have no feelings on the book

  1. The Believers – Rebecca Makkai ***
  2. Becoming – Michelle Obama *** I initially feared that the hype would be larger than the content of the book so I read it much later and I loved it. My only regret was by then all the book clubs had already met and discussed it.
  3. The Year that Changed Everything- Cathy Kelly. First of her reads and I loved it.
  4. It Started with Paris – Cathy Kelly.
  5. The Storyteller- Jodi Piccoult **Do terrible deeds define us or can we be someone else with time?
  6. Secrets of a happy marriage – Cathy Kelly
  7. Homecoming – Cathy Kelly.
  8. Dead to Me – Lesley Pearse. Love that it was about strong female friendships and personal endurance.
  9. Without a Trace – Lesley Pearse
  10. Just Mercy- Bryan Stevenson *** There is now a movie being made on this book, check it out.
  11. A River of Stars – Vanessa Hua. What a dud, don’t bother.
  12. Me and my Sisters – Sinead Moriarty
  13. The Secrets Sisters Keep – Sinead Moriarty
  14. Between Sisters – Cathy Kelly
  15. This Child of Mine – Sinead Moriarty. Skip it at all costs, this could have been a short story or a novella at best.
  16. Our Secrets and Lies – Sinead Moriarty
  17. Unnatural Causes – Richard Shepherd. This helped with my morbid fascination with dead bodies.
  18. The House on Willow Street – Cathy Kelly
  19. I owe you one – Sophie Kinsella
  20. Washington Black – Esi Edugyan. This was certainly an over hyped book, I wouldn’t recommend it.
  21. Home Fire – Kamila Shamsie ***  I simply loved it, check it out.

My book of the year was The Great Believers. This book deals with the burden of being left behind to confront the memories of a sad time. Also, just how far we have come since the first days of the AIDS scourge. Please do yourself a favour and also read it.

Notable mentions were: Home Fire: A Novel and Becoming.

Books I wanted to like but just.did.not: Washington Black

How many books did you get through last year?

Sunday Reads

Source

Recipes

 

Sunday Reads

Book Recommendations for the Holidays

Quote

TED’s winter reading list: 78 feel-good books — ideas.ted.com

Enthusiastic recommendations for reads that will provide you with abundant reasons to rejoice, reflect or recharge, as suggested by TED speakers and TED-Ed educators. If you’re searching for some calm The Peace of Wild Things: And Other Poems by Wendell Berry This little book of poetry is my current morning dose of calm, and I use…

via TED’s winter reading list: 78 feel-good books — ideas.ted.com

In case you are looking for some great reading recommendations and some great TED talks to listen to.

My current to-read list

adult blur books close up

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have read a couple of great books but recently I just hit a brick wall and can’t seem to get into anything. So I have a couple of books that I am trying to get into:

Have you read any of these books and if so, in what order would you recommend them?

My tried and couldn’t finish book list

woman reading book leaning near wall

Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

You know those books that everyone raves about and then try as you might you just can’t get into them and then when you do it just feels like they will neither start nor end? Well, these are mine, now I just stop and move onto the next book

  1. My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante
  2. How to Read the Air – Dinaw Mengistu
  3. All the Light we cannot see – Anthony Doerr
  4. Their Eyes were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
  5. Rachel’s Blue – Zakes Mda (South Africa)

And then there is Open City by Teju Cole that I hated but had to finish so I could hate on it 🙂

Books on Letters between Friends

Image resultImage result for dear ijeawele

About So Long a Letter

About Dear Ijeawele

In March and April I read these two letters between female friends. Both of them touch of womanhood and issues of feminism which although books are written almost four decades apart, are still so relevant and applicable to the plight of women. All in all, they are both great books so I will talk about the common themes that struck a note with me.

  1. Maintain your identity that is separate from your role as a mother, a wife, a sister-in-law. Maintain that single identity and I would even venture to say, keep pursuing those interests you have and love to do.
  2. Make your partner a full partner. From Dear Ijeawele, this is quite obvious and self-explanatory. From So Long …. it’s not quite obvious but I like Aissatou (the friend)’s response when her husband married a second wife, she held him immediately accountable and  left the marriage. Many called her names and wished something else of her but she held him accountable and did what she had to do.
  3. Both authors talk about centering marriage in the right place as a nice to have/do but not the penultimate accomplishment. Marriage is neither good nor bad, but how we aspire to it could be.
  4. Both writers caution each other against assigning certain roles to male or female children and the assumptions we make or impute. The future is not one where boys (girls) can do certain things that girls (boys) cannot. Also the language that we use when we explain the roles and responsibilities to kids also matters a lot.

The entire letter is an ode to female friendship which I totally loved and would therefore recommend both books. You can easily get through both in a single sitting or weekend.

How I want to make Adult Friends

five women laughing

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

I have a friend who is a maverick at making friends. One on one, she seems incredibly shy but I love her attitude to making friends and how deliberate she is about it all. So when I think to myself that I would like to make friends, I always think of some kind of organised activity that brings people together on the regular.

When I think of this though I always wonder how I would go about starting one because it involves putting myself out there in some way or another which is not exactly my thing. But, if / when I get over this hurdle, these are some things I would like to do:

  • Listen to a key podcast each month and then meet and discuss
  • Start an article club – pick a Longread article and then chat about it
  • Pick a cuisine and then assign various parts of the meal (starter, protein, desserts, salad) to different people and thus have a supper club or a cookbook club if you are fancier.
  • Good old Book club
  • Board games with a group of friends, I really have mine eye on this one.
  • A cheese/ wine tasting club.

Do you live in Joburg, would you be keen to do any of this with me and meet some new people?

Book Review: Always Another Country – Sisonke Msimang

Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home by [Msimang, Sisonke]
 Buy here

I read this book over the December holidays and was sooo excited, I am not sure what happened and it’s almost four months later that I am here gushing about it. Urgggh!! Please see below my thoughts under the different themes, page numbers are provided in brackets for you to follow.

General

  •  This is a book for us women, refugees, blacks (6) and I totally totally agree.
  • I love that our time in Nairobi overlap – when she returns from Canada. I know all the landmarks she mentions of Nairobi. It felt so good to read a book about a place that I knew and know of so intimately. Double yay!!
  • I thought it was odd that she kept referring to her folks as Mummy and Baba??? So odd coz those are two different languages in my head and I would have gone with either Mummy and Daddy or Mama and Baba.
  • I wondered also why she protects the names of her own kids but not Simon’s eldest two. Not sure what that’s about is it maybe that they are adults and the other two are minors?
  • The things said to them about a male child being preferred to daughters. And how this is often blamed on the mother in a way that gives the husband carte blanche to stray in the name of looking for a son (pp 7 – 27). I know this reality all too well and all I think is Biology lessons are important for all.
  • It’s so subtle but her talking about not participating in the street games and fights as much as the local kids do coz it could turn on you:

“I had to choose how I would distinguish myself and I knew that it had to be safe.”(9)

  • The plight of house girls and domestic workers – all too relatable ( 50).
  • Having read Pumla’s Rape, it resonated with me how she spoke about the incident of being sexually attacked: her response and that of the adults around her (52 -55). Also, in the light of #MeToo, I thought it quite bold that she opened up about this incident.
  • The urgency for them to receive their citizenship. Yeah, I get that (67 – 68).
  • I remember the following events but was probably too young to consider their true impact on history: Chris Hani, Mandelas release, the IFP-sponsored murders and the election.

Growing up Foreign

  • Being called an African monkey. While that did not happen to me, I know about being called a refugee almost as though it was a dirty swear word.
  • And the rules that their mom had them follow because growing up in another country with parents working full time, there is not a big social infrastructure to support the parents. So rules are key or in young people speak, rules are bae.

“… the immigrant child knows that outside is one thing but home is another country.” (83)

“The immigrant child knows that the key to survival is in the inflection points. … The key to survival is in blending in first, in learning how to be just like else as a first step to freedom. You have to know how the inside works before you can stand outside and make everybody laugh.” (90)

“The immigrant child doesn’t make any noise. … She is preparing for the day when she will have mastered the art of being normal so that she can stand out.” (90)

Sisterhood

  • How she always talks of her sisters, so beautiful and in some way the story is as much about them as it is her. Yay sisterhood.

Race

  •  I understand when she talks of her discovery of her race in the States. The same thing happened to me in RSA.
  • Being foreign in South Africa has shown me that White ones are still preferred to Black ones. Sad but fact!

Moms: 

  • On discovering that your mom is not just a role – mom, wife, friend, daughter – but actually a woman with dreams, feelings and thoughts quite apart from me even. GASP, SHOCKING.
  • How their mom almost became like an older fourth sister but their dad remained a dad. I find this to be the truth with us too.

“To know your mother as an adult is to finally see that she has lived many more years as a woman than you have been alive. To be a grown woman who loves her mother is to understand that it is no easy thing to raise children so beautifully that they don’t worry about you until they are grown up and ready to carry the complex burden of that anxiety.” (304)

  • Class: I enjoyed reading about her relationship with her nanny especially when they were both pregnant. I thought it was the most honest tale by a middle class Black woman that I could totally relate to.

So please go out, buy the book read, it, share it and enjoy it.

Now, to make friends with her in real life?

Sunday Reads

 

15 Best Reads in 2017

I read some really interesting books in 2017.

  • On Black Sisters Street: Chika Unigwe – I read it in the context of the current mass migration tales and I helped me imagine the kind of backstories that some of the migrants are fleeing from.
  • The Woman Next Door: Yewande Omotoso – Great read. As I read it I kept thinking it would make for a great TV mini-series.
  • Rape: Pumla Dineo Gqola– Eye opening. Educative. Informative. Heavy topic, well written.
  • When Breath Becomes Air: Paul Kalanithi – I cried after reading this one. It made me think of legacies and the things that drive me.
  • Small Great Acts: Jodi Piccoult – I love her writing and as usual, there was a deep ethical question to ponder.
  • An Elegy for Easterly: Pettinah Gappah – I am not a big short stories fan but I love the author and the stories did not disappoint. Must admit to the fact that I kept thinking back to these stories during Mugabe’s exit.
  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City: Matthew Desmond – I love these kinds of books that delve into one deep topic. It was interesting to also see how eviction has interlinkages with so many other issues: unemployment, poverty, crime, food shortages.
  • The Mothers: Brit Bennett – I enjoyed this read, it was an easy read but raised so many questions for me – especially on the role of faith in our lives.
  • The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Pearce: Jeff Hobbs – Forgetting whether it is the author’s story to tell, this book broke my heart. For anyone that wants to read Hillbilly Elegy, I would rather recommend this one.
  • Stay With Me: Ayobami Adebayo – Loved, loved, loved this one. Definitely recommending it to one and all.
  • Who Will Catch Us As We Fall: Iman Verjee – Great story on Kenya post-2007. Faultless.
  • Lyrics Alley: Leila Aboulela – This book made me dream of visiting Khartoum and The Sudan.
  • Beneath the Lion’s Gaze: Maaza Mengiste – It helped me understand so much about Ethiopia. Definitely a must read.
  • Kintu: Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi – A book from home. I initially thought it would be too ambitious and then under deliver but no, it was a great book to read. Get it.
  • Pachinko: Min Jin Lee – I have a thing for dynastic reads and this delivered exactly what I love: joy, sadness, tears, laughter and triumph.

Sunday Reads

This definition of her: to go from her father to her husband, to be pretty, docile – a man made tragedy. Her soul was made of larger, more powerful things, things that create or desecrate armies and galaxies. This is why when she loves she changes kingdoms, and when she hates she destroys legacies.  Nikita Gill, Jasmine, A Princess That Belonged To Herself First

Recipes

Books Based in New York City

I love New York, I just love it and so I wanted to share a couple of books that remind me of the Big Apple.

 

  • I have shared before that I did not really like Open City and I thought he was just showing off.
  • I LOVED Behold the Dreamers. I felt it was more relateable.
  • Everyone is raving about the Leavers but I felt it would have been a better short story but it gave me a glimpse of Upstate New York.

Do you love the Big Apple and have you read any books based on this city?

Mini- December (Reading) Goal

So I recently had occasion to reflect on the past year and to start planning for 2018 and decided to close out the year by reading ten books until the end of coming February. SO here is my reading list (the ones struck off are already complete):

  1. Kintu – Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
  2. All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doer
  3. Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
  4. Her Body and Other Parties – Carmen Maria Machado
  5. The Leavers – Lisa Ko
  6. Pachinko – Min Jin Lee
  7. A Column of Fire – Ken Follett
  8. Negroland: A Memoir – Margo Jefferson
  9. Dear Ijeawele or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  10. The Warmth of Other Suns – Isabel Wilkerson

Bonus

  1. Their Eyes were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
  2. Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
  3. The Gene: An Intimate History – Siddhartha Mukherjee
  4. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Harari
  5. Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home – Sisonke Msimang