Book Review: Recent Reads

In the recent past, I’ve hardly blogged and read any books but in the traffic to and from work, in the waiting rooms and in the evenings after supper, while waiting for friends at bus stops and restaurants, I’ve managed to read two books: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and Blue Mother Tongue by Ngwatilo. Two very different books.

 

The Tipping Point

Book-Cover-The-Tipping-Point
Book-Cover-The-Tipping-Point

While I generally don’t read books without story lines (I prefer fiction), I found The Tipping Point a fascinating read. It attempts, convincingly, to explain (social) epidemics and why/how they tip. The point at which something quite widespread becomes an epidemic and everyone is doing it. If you are a marketer, you might want to read it to find out why some products are a hit in the market while others are not.

The examples he examines and describes in the book include the fall of crime in New York in the early 90′s, the long-time show Sesame Street, the curious case of suicides in Micronesia, and how it could relate to the fight against cigarette smoking. If these are not enough to raise your curiosity, then you can still read the book for the three important factors that are of importance for epidemics: The Law of the Few (the particular set of socially gifted people who ‘sell’ the ideas to the rest of the population), The Stickiness Factor and The Power of Context.

He gives some fascinating examples and case studies that should be interesting to read even if you are not into marketing. It’s an entertaining read and I’d recommend it to anyone, even if it’s written more for the American audience if you ask me.

 

Blue Mothertongue by Ngwatilo

I have to thank Wamathai for this lovely poetry book.

Cover of Blue Mothertongue by Ngwatilo
Cover of Blue Mothertongue by Ngwatilo. Image from kwani.org

This is a contemporary poetry book. It’s not bogged down by the rules of poetry and meaningless vocabulary for the rhyme factor. It’s poems that tell of life in Nairobi, growing up in happy neighbourhoods and living abroad in recent times. Will your children know your mothertongue? They are poems that stem from the author’s experiences in life and I enjoyed them very much. I have reread some of the poems from time to time, and there are some that you have to read at least twice to truly get the message. It’s not a book that you hurry to finish, rather one that you savor every poem as you sit in the bus home after work, surrounded by tired faces anxious to get home.

Text Book Centre, Bookstop, Bookpoint, Prestige Booksellers – all in Nairobi, and at Moi University Bookshop, Eldoret.

Read about Ngwatilo here.

P.S. I didn’t have blue mothertongue with me at the time I was writing this review so will edit it to add quotes of my favorite poems.

Update

Below is a poem I like, Spring in Nairobi

Spring in Nairobi

is Jacaranda trees in bloom
is blissful blue, bold, edging
toward lavender gladness

When rain pours or commands
the winds to boast that it can, the flowers
fall in a flurry of whispers, which caress
like sudden sunlight, like the warm touch

left by your fleeting love. It is not tragic,
the romp we make on Kenyatta Ave,
it is at once delicate and joyful. We hope
the ritual will make us blissful
while blue, free, decidedly bold even