Or, Looking Back
If you're like me, you've seen quite a number of reflective tweets and posts as the year winds down. My birthday is at the end of January (I have a birthday wish list, thanks for asking!) and I've decided to think of that as the end of the year for myself. Which is to say, to buy myself some more time.
Reflect I still shall, birthday be damned.
I set some reading intentions when the year began which I didn't do too well on. The biggest one that's sitting on my soul is reading in Kiswahili and it was highlighted by reading Umpendaye by Idza Luhumyo. I came across it thanks to Don and our chat became a meditation on how juicy it is. If all Kiswahili writing is like this, then I need to get into it. Please recommend your favourite short stories and books in Kiswahili!
Speaking of short stories and essays, last week's newsletter was so overtaken by loneliness I forgot to talk about the way Wanjeri Gakuru's essay on women cycling was the first thing I thought about when I saw one as I drove out of Nairobi for my getaway. When Mama Mike, on Christmas Day, spoke about how she'd not like to live in a place that snows because she wouldn't want a situation like that in 'Snowfall' from The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw, it felt like seeing the woman on the bicycle. I love the power of words to build a frame of reference, help us draw connections, to assign meaning and value to the everyday.
Another thing I'd hoped to do more of in 2021 was write book reviews as faithfully as some of my faves (I'm thinking here of folks like Suckerforcoffe). Instead, I didn't post a thing on my Instagram and my biggest contribution to thoughts on books was my grand thread on Twitter. Maybe it's because of this that I ate up this review of Hanya Yanagihara's To Paradise by Rebecca Panovka. This year, and perhaps my deeper immersion into the bookish internet, has made apparent how well oiled the content machine is in service of a few hyped books each year (recall, if you will, the arrival of Sally Rooney's latest) and it was delightfully odd to read a review that could be distilled to, as Amyn would say, "E no bang."
I'm trying not to have resolutions going into the new year (famous last words) but I'm definitely hoping to read more from the back list, books in translation (which, to be fair, will often be hyped books in their original language), and books recommended by what Guchu (subscribe to her Telegram channel!) calls “booktubers who read at the margins/just below the hype”. As always, I'll track my reading on Twitter and Goodreads - follow along and send me recommendations please!
With 4 days of this year to go and today being a holiday (bank holidays have been such a joy this month!), I might just be able to sneak in a book in a language other than English. Wish me luck and I hope your bookish resolutions bring you joyful anticipation (which is to say, share them with me, alongside any bookish challenges that have you pumped for 2022).
I finished one (1) book last week. Tough times are lasting on the reading front, it seems. Part of it was that I barely went for walks and was rarely alone (so no audiobooks) and I'd read magazines (yaaaay library!) during snatches of time. The other part is that I was working, napping, eating, watching things - which is to say, activities that pushed reading lower down my to-do list. The only reason I even finished Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke was that it was due soon and seemed short enough to finish before its loan expired. As a person who often spends time on Slack, I found this workplace drama set on Slack delightful.
I hope you have a great week and a lovely time reading. Talk to you soon!