Tuesday, May 01, 2012

April in Review and Projections for May

April was my lowest point, so far. With only five books, I was one book below the minimum to achieve my overall reading target of 70; however, major advances in the first three months would make this setback disappear in terms of averages. That's the beauty of averages, the simple arithmetic type. The month saw me read, as stated already, all the five books I projected to read at the beginning of the month. These five books totalled 1569 pages, at a rate of 52.30 pages per day. This also gives an average of 314 pages per book.

Regardless of this somewhat low point, I completed two challenges: the Africa Literature Reading Challenge hosted by Kinna and the Chunkster Challenge. The following books were read in this period:
  1. The Famished Road by Ben Okri. This book completed the Chunkster Challenge. It is the fourth above-450 pages book I've read this year, after I set out to read one per month to complete this challenge. The Famished Road is an interesting book and at 500 pages there wasn't a dull moment or line in the book. Review will be up in the coming weeks.
  2. Atonement by Ian McEwan. I read this book for my Top 100 Books Reading Challenge. McEwan is a British writer you can trust for a unique kind of love stories, at least if the two I've read could serve as a good statistical sample upon which to generalise. On Chesil Beach  is the other book I'm referring to. Both of these books present an uncomfortable situations to the reader and they are mostly of a somewhat sexual sort that never seemed to be resolved or completely grasped. His is a world of misinformation, incomplete understanding, wrong expectations and more. Atonement is a good and moving story.
  3. Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer. This book completed the African Literature Reading Challenge. It was also read for the Top 100 Books Reading Challenge. It explores the internal struggles and outward adjustments and acceptance of being the daughter of a white anti-apartheid activists. A difficult book, both in terms of the prose and the storyline. Gordimer physically exacts on the reader whatever it was Rosa Burger was going through. Gordimer's talent as a writer shone through once again.
  4. Last Evenings on Earth by Roberto Bolano. This is my first taste of Bolano, and what a taste. In this collection Bolano narrates the failed aspirations, impotency, dejection, depression and fate of several Chileans in exile across Latin America and Europe. The stories mostly revolve around failed writers. It was read towards my 100 Shots of Short Challenge.
  5. Writing Free, edited by Irene Staunton. This is a collection of fifteen stories by fifteen Zimbabweans both at home and abroad. The objective was for these fifteen writers to define what 'writing free' means to them as expressed in a story. This might go down as one of the best anthologies I have read so far. There were several excellent experimental writings, bold in their style and prose. Here, though the usual flagpoles (of government maltreatment of the citizens, hyper inflation, land reclamation, bankrupt economy and the usual finger-pointing) found in Zimbabwean literature that has seen Zimbabwe itself becoming a character in stories coming out of this region in the last decade, there were several beautiful and bold styles and prose to boast of. This was also read for the African Literature Reading Challenge
One thing that runs through all these books is the challenge they pose to the reader. They are never easy and they tend not to easily bend to the reader's will. On that count, I wouldn't say April was a low point. It was rather a challenging month.

May is a busy month at work. In fact, until October I'm going to be very busy and will hardly be at my desk. This means that packing books and moving in and out. Currently, the first point of call is Uganda where I'm part of a team working on the African Parliamentary Index (API). These are the books I have lined to read this month:
  1. The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov. I have always wanted to read sci-fi books though sci-fi mixed with fantasy is not my 'thing'. Consequently, this book, which has been with me for sometime (fourteen months, to be precise), comes as the first choice in my journey into sci-fi. I also have Frank Herbert's Dune. The trilogy is made up of:
    1. Foundation
    2. Foundation and Empire
    3. Second Foundation
  2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This book is listed on my Top 100 Books Challenge.
  3. Definition of a Miracle by Farida N. Bedwei. This is a semi-autobiographical account of the author but she has taken several liberties to fictonalise a lot of things.
  4. Journey by G.A. Agambila.
  5. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. My quest to completely read Morrison is ongoing.
  6. The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl.
  7. If I'm so Successful, Why do I feel like a Fake? The Impostor Phenomenon by Joan C Harvey with Cynthia Katz. This will be my non-fiction for the month. I read one non-fiction every month, except in April.
Of course, I can't promise to read all these ten (10) stories (or 7 books); however, that is the goal - to work towards reading them all. 

How was your reading in April?


  1. That sounds like a good month to me. I love McEwan's writing and enjoyed Atonement several years ago. Will also look forward to your review of The Famished Road. As for the May list, The Great Gatsby is always a joy to read (love the last paragraph) and The Bluest Eye is wonderful.

    1. Yeah, it was a good month but I wish I could do more.

  2. Congratulations for completing two challenges. Well done. You inspire me so much with your reading and as I mentioned in one of my posts, I wish I could read and review as much as you do. This is quite impressive, even though you said April is a low.

    I am yet to review the books I read on my list which are only two. Excuses? Plenty.

    I have The Bluest Eye listed on one of my challenges and which I will read soon. So, I'm looking forward to your visit to my blog and adding your comments to my posts.

    1. Thanks RP, I will visit your blog. I've been lazy for a while now; or better still busy in other areas.

  3. No matter recording lowest point in April, you read a lot than i did. More grease to your elbow and happy reading in the month of May. You have some fantastic tiles for May.

  4. I found April to be a slower reading month too; I can't explain it -- and it held good reading, so I'm not complaining (doesn't sound like you can complain on that score either!), but it's odd, and I hope May holds lots more reading -- for both of us!

    1. I hope that too, though I can't say this will materialise since we're in the middle of the month and I still haven't done much reading.


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