Happy New Year!
(Or is it too late for this kind of thing?)
Coming off of the high that was my reading in 2015, I thought that in 2016 I would be able to do better and read more.
And I am surprised that I actually managed to beat that high based off of only raw statistics (details can be accessed here).
In 2016, I started on 19 books and managed to not finish 3. The 3 are books that I am currently reading through them and hope to finish before the end of January 2017. In 2015, I started on 17 books of which I did not finish 3. I don't think I am about to finish on them anytime soon but I will one day attempt to pick up from where I left off.
In closing my 2015 review of reads, I mentioned there were two books that I wanted to read. I bought the two books and managed to finish one. The other one is well on its way to being finished.
I had promised myself that I will read more women and I did; 6 books were by women which is 31.58% of all the books I started on. This is an improvement over 2015's 23.5%. I read two of Edwidge Danticat's works; Krik? Krak! and Claire Of The Sea Light. Both are fiction titles that are set in Edwidge's homeland of Haiti and I rate them highly. Krik? Krak! is a collection of ten short stories detailing how women are living during the trying times of Duvalier's regime. I feel some of the stories would have done better if they were fleshed out more.
Claire of The Sea Light is about a girl named Claire who mysteriously disappears one night before she is supposed to move in with her father's friend. This is like opening a can of worms that rocks a small fishing town on the coast of Haiti. A great exploratory look at the bonds that human beings share.
The first book I read in 2016, was Marlon James' highly acclaimed A Brief History Of Seven Killings which traces the fates of the gangsters who tried killing Bob Marley in 1976. In this fictional account, we are taken through all the suburbs of Kingston, Jamaica and into Miami and New York as we try to understand what happened to the young men who were involved in the attempted assassination. It is a rich story that brings in women and the politicians who are truying to tear apart Jamaica. I had thought of doing a review but figuredout that there were enough reviews out there.
Fiction is the category I read the most in 2016 at 63.2% as compared to 2015's 47%. I thought I would try and increase my uptake of history and business/economics/finance books but I only managed to do 15.79% (3 books) and 5.26% (1 book) respectively.
The two books on history that I started on are Peter Frankopan's The Silk Roads: A New History of The World, one of my target books from last year, and Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between The World and Me. I chose to include Between The World and Me as a historical book rather than in the autobiography/biography category since it talks more about the history of blacks in America as told from Ta-Nehisi's perspective and experiences while he was growing up. I am yet to finish The Silk Roads but it is recommended reading for anyone who loves history. You might find yourself slipping into a wormhole of history texts since Peter Frankopan references so many other texts (upto 100 or so texts per chapter).
I read one graphic novel and it was Batman - The Dark Knight Returns written by Fank Miller with illustrations by Klaus Janson. It was the one comic that I had not gotten around to in a while.
On average, I was reading 24 pages of whichever book per day (I have omitted the books that I am yet to finish and Igoni Barrett's Black Ass which seems to have a problem with the dates as captured in that worksheet). The book I read second-fastest was Kazuo Ishiguro's The Buried Giant at about 49 pages per day with a substantial chunk of the book read while I was on holiday. Rasna Warrah's Unsilenced: Unmasking the United Nations Culture of Cover-Ups, Corruption and Impunity was first at 71 pages in a day but it is such a small book coming in at just 142 pages. I read Oliver Tambo Remembered at the slowest pace of 4.7 pages per day since I took my time with it by which time I had started on two other books and finished before finishing on it. This also happens to be the only book I reviewed in 2016. I should work harder at reviewing books this year.
Hardcover books still remain out of my salary grade and I read just two (11% compared to 2015's 6%) of them; The Buried Giant and The Courage to Act by ben Bernanke. E-books have dropped from 2015's 77% to just 42% being overtaken by paperbacks at 47%.
Despite reading more books, I spent less money on books that I started (~KES 25,700 compared to KES 27,000 in 2015). The reason is that I pirated quite a number of e-books, got one loaner (Pervez Musharraf's In the Line Of Fire) and I exchanged my copy of The Buried Giant for Mohamed Hanif's A case of Exploding Mangoes during my birthday trip. Still, I am yet to establish a trust with all that money.
I have three repeat authors from the past; Alain Mabanckou, Kazuo Ishiguro and Teju Cole.
I have a couple of books that I bought as the year was about to end and I look forward to starting on them as soon as I finish what is in front of me.
One book that I am looking forward to buying is Imbolo Mbue's Behold The Dreamers which was the first book by an African author to be signed up for USD 1mn.
More books I look forward to reading are about China with some select titles from these two lists by The Economist and Bloomberg. But first, The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan by Sebastian Mallaby seems like something I can start with together with Alibaba: The House That Jack ma Built by Duncan Clark.
Looking forward to another year of reading and hopefully reviewing more. What are you looking forward to reading?
EDIT: 16/01/2017: I have just finished reading Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Sympathizer. It details the happenings around the American-Vietnamese War and how it affected the people of Vietnam. It is a heavy read especially when they talk about the killings and the torture. I have since changed the rating to a 5 (up from a 4) mainly because of the closing chapters. I cannot be able to say much about wars since I have never experienced one but this is the closest that it comes to.
The book (at least the Kindle version) comes with two articles at the end; one which is an interview of the author with the Asian American Writers' Workshop's The Margin and the other is an op-ed piece by the author himself in the New York Times.
They are both insightful reads.
What do those who struggle against power do when they seize power? What does the revolutionary do when the revolution triumphs? Why do those who call for independence and freedom take away the independence and freedom of others?