Or, There's a Myth for That
Do you ever have days when you feel a weight on your chest (your heart?) that makes living feel like a Sisyphean task? No? Just me? Oh well. I had a number of those last week and reading, my go-to balm, just didn’t seem to be doing it as a coping (masking?) strategy. So I wondered what to tell the audience (but we need the audience to follow the account, that audience) today as I write this down the wire (it’s 1625 EAT, lights are gone because KPLC thinks power and rain don’t go together, etc).
I went on a walking date with someone I was introduced to by a friend last week (more people please do this - my tastes are Catholic accounting for the ideal listed in 13 and I am location-agnostic) and had a good time. We ended up in a cafe talking about books, and one in particular that I’ve had mixed feelings about since a friend gave it a low rating. It was intriguing to hear a very different take, and to acknowledge (as always!) how much of ourselves we bring to our reading. This week, I embark on a buddy read of The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo with someone I had a Jitsi date with on Valentine’s Day (we were so caught up in the good vibes we told each other Happy Val’s the next day) and I think it’s a good thing that the eventful buddy-read of 2021 hasn’t left me calloused on that front. [Insert something about staying tender here.] There seems to be a bookish thread running through my 2022 dates because even the first date of the year featured someone who said they’re a fan of LeVar Burton Reads, which I absolutely love.
But don’t let this stop you, non–bookish folk. In this house we date for shared values, not interests (good communication! Shared politics! Some class awareness!). I can do all the reading if we’ll have a happy union.
[Noises from the gallery: Keep it moving, Mike!]
OK, OK, moving on!
I went to the library to return the disappointing book I mentioned last week (Horrorology: The Lexicon of Fear) and had breakfast with YB before I headed to Maktaba Kuu. You should have seen the look on his face as I explained my new approach to reading physical vs digital books (2 weeks at a time instead of alternating weeks) - he was clearly amused and it reminded me how strange bookish conversations (this is how I intend to tackle my TBR, this is what I plan on reading etc) can seem for fellow readers who are not in The Life, so to speak. Shout out to siblings who keep one grounded.
My buddy-read with MJ of We, the Survivors by Tash Aw ended and now I’m tempted to ask her to read something else with me soon because she’s such good company - banter, laughs, and refreshing thoughts about books. I’m so happy I asked for her Goodreads handle during a hike more than a year ago (hiking, that’s an interest that’s not media!) and that she agreed to go on that journey with me. Short review: TASH AW! Long review tk.
Other than the buddy-read, I also finished Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades whose ARC I received in the post last week but one. The guy at the counter, when I opened it, thought it was a Valentine’s gift and there I was explaining that this was an ARC (another insider thing!) and how that works. I make jokes about being the MCA and speaking to my constituents but, as a person who lives alone and can sometimes get lonely, it’s such a joy to connect with people - even fleetingly. The book’s choral voice took some getting used to and reads a lot like Diasporic Poems™ but once one gets into the groove of things, it’s quite the collection of vignettes.
Today morning, I started and finished Two-Week Wait: an IVF story by Luke C Jackson and Kelly Jackson with illustrations by Mara Wild (via Scribd - use Linda Barasa’s link for 60 free days) and it was touching to see a graphic memoir about trying to get pregnant that featured a variety of family configurations. As a person who has cycled through wanting to be pregnant one day, not contemplating parenthood, to my current (long-term, as in I have wanted to be a foster and/ or be an adoptive parent for going on 8 years) desire to be a parent by adoption; every story about that journey is intriguing.
I’m halfway through Nairobi’s set book (The Sex Lives of African Women by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah) and I’m finding it a bit underwhelming (sorry, besties!). I want so badly to be interested in the sex lives of others (unrelated: I think of a German film whose title translates to The Lives of Others every so often) but I kept reading this almost like I needed to down some medicine before I could go out and play.
Some Mike in the Bookish World news: I made my extended family proud by being profiled in the Saturday Nation this past week. For those wondering, the pose is an homage to this Banana Yashimoto picture (I’ll nail the look yet!)
and the photo was taken by the wonderful Sujay Shah. I mention my family because I only knew about it when, after time at the pool, library, post office etc, I finally went online and the family WhatsApp group prompted me to enter the supermarket and buy the paper - a thing I haven’t done in ages, being a digital reader. I must say it was a delightful way to end the week and I hope the one ahead brings some joy.
This week, I plan on starting my BookTube Prize Octafinals reading, especially the chunker that is The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. I’ve managed to find the titles at a variety of libraries so I hope that, between audiobooks and e-books, I am able to do my first ever book prize judging justice.
I hope you have a great week and a lovely time reading. Talk to you soon!