It's recently come to my attention that men read books by women thanks to a much-discussed piece in The Guardian. It might be that I read a lot of books by women and like them (for instance Britta Böhler’s channel, which I subscribe to, is dedicated to books by women) but centering men in conversations about literature has been odd to me all my life. [Is this where I say "not all men; I have a father, a brother, uncles, cousins etc who read"?] But jokes aside - most of the authors profiled made a hash of it and it's probably a testament to the workings of patriarchy that their opinion was even sought.
And I say this as a person who is intimately acquainted with the immense privilege that is book acquisition (my latest video is a book haul featuring books that cost almost 10 USD in a country where many people live on that much for days) and reading as a hobby. Hobbies take leisure time, and that's something that a lot of women don't have in the same quantity as men (if at all). Some of us, growing up, may only have seen men read (the newspaper, especially, but also books) but women read too and those who can read a lot (see: book clubs, the people who show up at book signings) so articles like these invisibilise women in such ridiculous ways I don't even know where to start.
Anyway, even the Women's Prize (whose winner will be announced on 15th June - I erroneously listed the date as 27th May last week) has a segment dedicated to men reading women and I wish for my sisters to be free.
Meanwhile, Mina makes a fine point about including Black writers in one's summer reading. Thanks to climate change, there have been a few warm days in this part of the world so I'll be taking her advice while the sun is still out (check out the replies and quote tweets for some interesting lists). With my reading slump persisting, reading sounds like a triumph in and of itself so it's imperative that the choices be intentional. I have no room for books that don't hit at this moment.
I’ve been listening to a frightening book about Rwanda (Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad by Michela Wrong) and even just writing this - living in a country in the region that has a Rwandan diaspora and where some génocidaires have been known to hide (Content Warning: human remains) - makes me feel a way. Talking about it with Mama Mike made me realise how familiar its contents are to someone who lived through the Nyayo Era. For a host of reasons, I always feel iffy about white people discussing the affairs of non-white people and especially Black people but Do Not Disturb, like Wrong's It's Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower (which centred Kenya's John Githongo), is so gripping I just keep going.
Wage work sent me out of town recently and not much reading happened on the trip to and fro. Between back to back meetings, pure exhaustion, and sad boi hours; all I did was listen to the last episodes of Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe (read by Kyle Soller). I also listened to The Vagina Bible: The Vulva and the Vagina: Separating the Myth from the Medicine by Jen Gunter as I walked on a treadmill for size (I might never like going to a gym, I fear) and Gunter has me feeling very confident in certain ways.
In this house, we're no longer making promises about what we will read. If we read, we read. I don't go back to work till Monday (one of the upsides of wage work being leave days) and I'd traditionally say I'll try get some reading in but I'll more likely get some rest, run some errands, watch some cars, go for a picnic with my book club (we're discussing Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi's The First Woman/ A Girl Is A Body Of Water) and watch a film or two. I have a discussion of Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung (translated by Anton Hur) with MJ this Sunday so that marks this week's only reading commitment. It's under 300 pages so I feel pretty confident I'll be done by then. I hope you're having (or had) a restful Madaraka Day if you're based in Kenya and that your weekend features some rest, too (reading would also be nice! Do it for us both!)
Enjoy the rest of the week and have a lovely time reading. Talk to you soon!
Cursed Bunny is one of my favourite reads this year🤗