Tag Archives: books

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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.

Small Thursday Challenge

The finalists for the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing were announced earlier this week. The Caine Prize for African Writing is a registered charity whose aim is to bring African writing to a wider audience using our annual literary award. The finalists hail from Kenya :), South Africa and Nigeria and here are their short stories:

I wanna challenge myself to read them all and then guess which one will win. Join me?

 

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

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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?

2017 in Posts

*this list is based on views

  1. Having a baby, what would you like to do before baby arrives?
  2. The status of rape in South Africa
  3. Thoughts on Upile Chisala’s book.
  4. Poems for my daughter(s)
  5. Happy Anniversary love 🙂
  6. A conversation with my oldest nephew
  7. Expectations and Marriage
  8. Lessons from the book of John
  9. Wh!at do you cook for guests?
  10. How I love thee!!

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

Sunday Reads

Fill your life with women that empower you, that help you believe in your magic and aid them to believe in their own exceptional power and their incredible magic too. Women that believe in each other can survive anything. Women who believe in each other create armies that will win kingdoms and wars. Nikita Gill

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Sunday Reads

 

Sunday Reads

“Silence is often a woman-flavoured thing. It is guilty of holding countless women’s names and voices hostage inside of its spine and its ribcage.” Nikita Gill 

 

I Got You Friend

I miss my gal pals the most when I see stuff like this that we could do together .

I particularly think of the things that I have missed out on with my better female friends: baby showers, bridal showers, high tea, being able to do random things together, road trips, dinners, first homes, come meet my new guy, the new baby, watch a new show together and laugh about it – just a lot of stuff. Yes, IRL I have friends and people I do this but it’s also different.

From the blog post:

I particularly love #2,6, 9 and have done #3 – adult baking dates are awesome – 10, 13.

The comments as usual provides such gems and so here is my to do with a friend list.

  • Volunteer together at a cause that’s meaningful to either or both of us.
  • More concerts – I watched John Legend with a pal and her cool mom and it was awesome!
  • Coworking sessions. Yes to these.
  • Sit together and read dates.
  • Sleepovers with no husbands or kids.
  • Pottery / learn something class.
  • Try and commit to an exercise class together.
  • Talk about podcast episodes we both love. Tried to get so many pals into this that I am glad I can do it with my sister and partly with The Mr.
  • Watch TV shows together and make comments in between, ideally together or even if separately, concurrently.
  • Same day road trips and do stuff along the way or at the destination.
  • Supper club where each person brings one.

In fact, I decided to have a little snacks and games afternoon at my place next month! Done!!

Book Review: Who Will Catch Us As We Fall

Against the backdrop of the political shenanigans in Kenya, I read this very interesting book on Kenya by a Kenyan Indian author.

About the Book.
Haunted by a past that has kept her from Nairobi for over three years, Leena returns home to discover her family unchanged: her father is still a staunch patriot dreaming of a better country; her mother is still unwilling or unable to let go of the past; and her brother spends his days provoking the establishment as a political activist. When Leena meets a local Kikuyu artist whose past is linked to her own, the two begin a secret affair—one that forces Leena to again question her place in a country she once called home.

 

Interlinked with Leena’s story is that of Jeffery: a corrupt policeman burdened with his own angers and regrets, and whose questionable actions have unexpected and catastrophic consequences for those closest to him. Who Will Catch Us As We Fall is an epic look at the politics and people of Kenya.

So my general thoughts:

  • The book had quite a slow start, I mean you could tell she is hinting at something that happened in the past but she wasn’t going to give away anything quite so quickly.
  • I thought it was a good attempt for the author to include Kiswahili phrases but it probably needed an editor who also spoke Kiswahili as in the absence of that the book had basic editorial mistakes like the police moto: Utumishi kwa wote, not utamishi kwa wote; Jogoo House not Jogo House.
  • I thought that the city of Nairobi could have been more prominent unless the narrow lens through which it was presented was necessary to present how insular the Indian community in Kenya is?

The book had a few major themes that were particularly meaningful to me.

Race/ Tribe

  • Love that she talks about the race/tribe relations between Indians and Africans in Kenya. How there is a sense of mistrust and almost antagonistic hate or resentment. This was best played out by the employer – employee relations by the Indian mama and her Kikuyu/ African maid.
  • I thought the discussion between Jai and Ivy at the SONU meeting about what makes a Kenyan Kenyan quite insightful. It made me wonder whether by the same reckoning I would be classified as one because though by birth and upbringing I am one, then again, am I actually one? Will Indians ever be viewed as Kenyan?
  • My surprise at Jai choosing to study at UoN instead of going to England which as the mom confirms is the better option and generally the done thing among this sub population.
  • It was interesting to read about Pio Gama Pinto because he is one person who history has not represented very well even all these years later.

Gender

  • Jai could play outside but Leena couldn’t.
  • Jeffrey just “took over” his friends wife like she was a spare item and no one questioned that.
  • Also the fact that the wife just rolled over and adjusted to this new reality.

Power

  • The dynamics between a maid and her employer were very startling and playing into the perception of race and/or tribe in the book is the difference in treatment for a maid between a white and Indian employer.
  • Jeffrey wielded significant power and that was how over time he was able to become as corrupt as he was.
  • Who really ran the home between Jai’s parents, the mom or the dad?

Home

  • Leena’s characterisation of being in Nairobi vs being in London and how one can reimagine / build it up into something bigger than it really is. (p. 335)
  • I loved the following quotes that best typified Nairobi.

“I love this country but I must accept it for what it is. A place where thieves are celebrated and good men die unremarkable deaths.” (p. 357)

“Nairobi is a sly town. It is so small that run-ins with people one is trying to avoid are a common occurrence, yet it is segmented enough to keep two searching individuals apart. (p. 384)

Not as ambitious as Dust but for a contemporary book, it was a great effort and I would certainly recommend it to anyone.

Sunday Reads

What Home Feels Like

My City is Better than Yours

When I moved to Cape Town, I did not expect to like, or GASP love it, as much as I did Johannesburg. Two years on, I feel like I am cheating on my first love but here goes a list of things I love about the city.

  • Franschhoek and the annual literary festival
  • The Book Lounge
  • The Mountain View
  • Camps Bay – I don’t do this often because it gets touristy and it’s a big contrast to the daily inequality but occasionally, I do note its’ beauty and appreciate that.
  • Wine Farms
  • Unstuffy Markets – Mojo Market, Old Biscuit Mill and Oranjezicht. For some reason in Joburg, peeople need to dress up and then get to markets and look like they just walk up like that, URGGGH!!
  • An Evening BSF Class
  • The Promenade
  • Being able to walk around to most places
  • A main street that means not having to get into a mall unless you want to, Yay!!!
  • Off-street Parking
  • Kalk Bay
  • A gorgeous CBD
  • Love the pace of drivers and their general chill
  • It’s a very outdoors and family-oriented place

Podcast Love

I have spoken about podcasts and how much I love them here so many times before. Here are some of my favourites and as an added bonus recent episodes I have listened to that I just loved (please click on the image to get the episode that I loved).

Ear hustle

Hidden Brain

Fresh Air

CYG

 

Travelling through Africa / To- Read Books

I recently noticed that I have been reading a lot of Nigerian/ Ghanaian authored books and so I set myself a challenge to diversify my reading to other parts of Africa. Here are some of the books on my to-read list.

  1. Lyrics Alley – Leila Aboulela (Sudan)
  2. So Long a Letter – Mariam Ba (Senegal)
  3. Beneath the Lion’s Gaze – Maaza Mengiste ( Ethiopia)
  4. Flame and Song – Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa (Uganda)

Enjoy!

A Recent Menu

So before I turned 30, I wanted to host a fancy dinner at my place and host a couple of friends. Being in a new city and making friends therefore provided the best backdrop for this as I decided to host a bunch of ladies that I have recently come to know whom I also thought would be a good fit to develop new friendships among themselves. The additional backstory is that I have so many cookery books and this gave me the chance to whip one out and base the days’ meal on it. I used Rachel Allen’s book, Entertaining at Home – easily my best recipe book.  So below is the prescribed menu:

Starters

Tomato, mozzarella and tapenade crostini

Mains

Bulgur wheat pilaf

Braised Moroccan chicken with basmati rice

Ribboned carrots with honey and parsley

Green salad

Dessert

Blackberry mousse

Chocolate cake

 

 

 

Sunday Reads

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Some more about me ..

What’s on your nightstand?

My bible, two or three books I am currently reading, a bottle of perfume, two birthday cards from family, a coaster (for my nightly cuppa tea), some paperwork I need to file.

What is an ideal day?

Predictable i.e it goes according to plan with nothing unexpected.

What trait do you deplore in other people?

Dishonesty, lack of conviction.

What trait do you most admire in other people?

Honesty, loyalty and ambition/drive.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Books, tea and stationary.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Hopelessness and having nothing to look forward to.

Who’s your favorite hero of fiction or movies?

Moses from the books by Barbara Kimenye

Mountain or beach vacation?

City, but if I had to strictly choose, then beach.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

My buck teeth.