What Savvy Reads

Okay, this post is not really about me, I just thought I would share with you what’s on my reading list, and also give some sort of review/preview of the books I have read recently. Between school, work, traveling to watch AFC Leopards play, attending tech events and social events, I sometimes squeeze in time to read a book or two.

That Kenyans do not read is a fallacy, I agree with @Aka3CB in this Diasporadical post. We Kenyans read a lot; from facebook statuses, tweets, blogs, newspapers, drug prescriptions, novels from the street, tattered magazines in salons; to those mganga wa kesi za koti, mapenzi notices, manhood enlargement on signposts; to stickers in matatus, banners on the back of lorries and buses, quotes on pimped matatus, and the Bible that is read to us in the bus, on the radio, on TV..

bookshelf
Someone get me a nice bookshelf like this one for my-soon-to-be-tastefully-decorated-crib! Image from ericadunham.com

Here’s what is currently on my reading list:

  • The Art of Seduction by Robert Green (ebook): I’m yet to finish the first chapter but I’m told I’ll become the perfect seducer after I read that book, he he
  • Love in a Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (ebook). After reading 100 years of solitude, which my bro claimed to have no end in sight, but which I enjoyed very much, I decided to read this one too.
  • The Caine Prize for African Literature 2012 shortlist: these are the stories shortlisted this year. You can download the stories in pdf from the website. Short stories are easier to read because they only need an hour of your time, unlike an involving novel that takes days to complete.
  • The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Green (hardcopy). I started reading this book last year, it was my graduation present from my uncle (first class honours bragging rights, I’m allowed to mention it here!). Anyway, I seem to have misplaced the book but if I find it, I intend to finish reading it.
  • The Hunger Games (ebook)- a fantasy collection that I can’t wait to start reading. I love books like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones (A Song of Fire and Ice) and other non-famous fantasy/SciFi kind of books. This one is big though, they’ve made the movie which I won’t watch until I finish the books. Movies rarely ever live up to their books anyway.

Recently Read: Brief Reviews

The Jesus Papers by Michael Baigent

The Jesus Papers
The Jesus Papers

In a summary, this book seeks to discredit Jesus Christ. It concludes that his crucifixion never happened or if it happened, then Jesus must have survived the crucifixion. The author starts by taking us back to the context of Jesus’ story. Jesus was born in modern day Palestine, so that image of a blonde Jesus that Christians spread around is not accurate. The author explores the culture, beliefs, lifestyle, wars, politics surrounding the region Jesus grew up in. He (the author) uses research from historians around the time Jesus was alive, before and after, some artifacts found in museums around the world, including the Dead Sea Scrolls that were found in the late 1940’s.

The author uses gaps in the Bible (like where on earth did Jesus go between ages 12 and baptism (30-33)?), inconsistencies in the books of the Bible, the history of WHO compiled the Bible, the (very) violent history of the Catholic Church (like when they were burning “witches” in Europe) to draw the conclusion that Jesus Christ was not divine after all, that he (Jesus) was just a man whom some very powerful people in history used to create a religion for their own power-hungry reasons. However, the author goes on to praise ancient religions like the Egyptian one, where he says someone just feels “overcome by emotion” when they visit the pyramids and other religious sites.

My conclusion: there’s simply not enough evidence to support his theories. Most of his evidence is circumstantial and it’s a good book for anyone objective enough to read it. What the author forgets is that FAITH is not something based on FACTS. People are searching for something to believe in, and Christianity has got some rationality in it. It does not matter how Jesus looked like or how the Bible was compiled, it’s about what people choose to believe. I think Christianity lets people interpret the Bible their own way, thus is a popular religion. The book is an involving read though sometimes it could drag on and on trying to prove a point!

One Day I will Write About This Place by Binyavanga Wainaina

One Day I Will Write About This Place
One Day I Will Write About This Place

In the words of Chimamanda Adichie (this is the point where you Google her), this book is a tender memoir about growing up in middle class Kenya. I first learned of Binyavanga Wainaina from his famous essay, “How Not To Write About Africa.” He won the Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story, Discovering Home, in 2002, the first Kenyan to win it.

Binyavanga has always been in my reading radar because he’s among the guys who started Kwani? Organization, where I’ve met many writers and bought a number of books they’ve published. His book was launched in Kenya recently, and I’m lucky I got a signed copy “To Harriet, with my love, Binyavanga”. He has a terrible handwriting but I’m sure that’s what he wrote!

I don’t want to give away what’s in the book, but it’s certainly worth reading. The language flows, twists this way to fit the story-line, cynical sometimes (like when he talks of Kenya’s politics), tender (when he talks of his family), funny and quirky (I love the part he talks about the new job of convincing farmers to plant cotton, and his encounter with the beaming chief of the area), and he talks of how he somehow got through what I’d call the “quarter-life” crisis, a time when you are in your 20’s, just lost, drifting, living one day at a time, isolated in your own world(room).

Here’s to a happy reading!

Now off to write my short story that might just one day win me a Caine Prize and a publishing contract! #Dreams

P.S.

Sorry you can’t borrow my hard copy books, but I can share the soft copy ones. Email me if you need one.

  • http://kibuimoses.blogspot.com Moses Kibui

    nice post, keep up

    • savvykenya

      Thanks Moses!

  • Wilfred

    What a read, just a question..why the controversial list of books that u r reading?

    • savvykenya

      They are not controversial, are they? I read them for their entertainment value!

  • pitzevans

    I really would love to read a song of fire and ice….and bring an amicable end to our argument the other day

    • savvykenya

      Our argument is on which book the Game of Thrones show is based.. and it is based on A Song of Fire and Ice by George R. R. Martin, it says so when the episodes are beginning. However, as for who George R R Martin copied, that you may be right.

      Bottomline: the show is an adaptation of the books A Song of Fire and Ice by R.R. Martin. See on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_of_Thrones_(TV_series)

  • Mackel9

    I am not convinced that’s what Binyavanga wrote seems like cuss words… I like your collection I would love to have the soft copy version, I think its time I got me a kindle

    • savvykenya

      Yeah, the book is also available in soft copy!

  • Phasesjournal

    The ebooks seem very interesting. Can I borrow them via email at phasesjournal@gmail.com

    • savvykenya

      Check your email, finally sent :)

  • http://twitter.com/justalffie Alffie Mayamiko

    I like your objectivity especially on the Jesus book. I obviously have a few comments on your thoughts on the book but let me read it first and get back to you.

    • savvykenya

      Religion is always a hot debate and I didn’t want to get into it!

      • http://twitter.com/justalffie Alffie Mayamiko

        In the marketplace of ideas, everyone’s opinion should be respected even if u disagree with them. Those that shoot down opinions are more fanatical than convicted. Don’t hold back .. just saying.

        • savvykenya

          Religious discussions are often subjective, passionate and can easily get out of hand. I’m not afraid, I just don’t have the energy for one right now!

  • http://hergrandducalhighness.blogspot.com/ the duchess

    ha ha ha. miss sunshine, someone may have lied that you would become the perfect seducer after finishing Robert Green but it is a good read. Random observation, I think its a great thing that more and more people are actually taking up reading as a “thing”.

    • savvykenya

      It’s a risk I am willing to take, so I shall read it anyway! It’s always a good thing when people are reading..

  • Vaishali

    Where can i get a soft copy of “one day i will write about this place”?

    • savvykenya

      kwani.org

  • Ser Mhuni The Honest

    That’s a….. uuuuhm….a very….. uuuhhhm….. NICE selection you got there, Savvy.

    Hunger Games Triology ehhh?

    Unless you’re the feminist type you’ll only enjoy the first book. The sencond one is just a filler which is essentially a rewrite of the first one and the story barely progresses. The third one is about the main characters’ struggle with …… who am I kidding? It’s simply an over 200 pages of constant excruciating navel gazing. Last but not…….. the book is black and white, no grey areas, which makes it extremely boring.

    NB: A Song of Ice and Fire is great. A Dance With Dragons was disappointing though.

    48 Laws of Power.

    The only law you need to be powerful is to really want it. There is no clean or easier way of getting it, all depends on the circumstances(and the fluctuates of course ). The book almost agrees with this, but then again the advice is too one sided, where you get to win.

    Short Stories are awesome.

    Haven’t read the other two.

    Try these:-

    Lamb: The Gospel of according to Biff, Christ’s Childhood pal. ~ Christopher Moore.

    It attempts to answer this question “where on earth did Jesus go between ages 12 and
    baptism (30-33)?”

    Verdict: Batshit hilarious.

    Divergent ~ Veronica Ruth.

    Verdict: Best non philosophical dystopic novel.

    • savvykenya

      Thanks for these recommendations, I’m finally going to read them!

  • http://mrsmwiti.com MrsMwiti.com

    I love reading (my kids too ; my house is a mini library) but because of time,
    when I read a book it’s about a subject I am interested in or want to be better
    at (parenting, career..); for pleasure, I read magazines or watch a(the book) movie!
    I rarely read fiction. Unless it’s Chimamanda. And it’s a short story!
    Last year I went into a frenzy of buying e-books. This was until I realized,
    I don’t read them unless I am bored senseless at an airport lobby…

    Back to ‘hard copy’ books again!

    • savvykenya

      If you travel a lot you might end up reading those e-books.. I have made the transition to e-books but sometimes I still prefer hard copies. I hope my kids will love to read, I can’t equate the pleasure I got from reading story books when i was a kid, The Moses Series etc.

      I don’t read topical books, I prefer fiction anytime.