Thursday, July 05, 2012

June in Review, Projections for July

Admittedly, my reading has declined. It happens. And it has happened to me. Of the four books and five short stories scheduled for reading in June, only one book was read (though that wasn't the only book read); the five short stories were all read. Again, I was below the minimum 50 pages a day target; the total pages for June stood at 1347, giving a 44.9 pages per day. This statistics include cheating, since I have included the book I am currently reading (started in June). Another reason, apart from just to increase my June statistics, is to force me to read frequently and rapidly in July. I hope it does. The following books were read (one is being read):
  1. The Black Swan - The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. This is the best non-fiction book I have read all time. It disproves and renders useless several of the things we are taught at graduate school especially Econometrics and Statistics and all those forecast tools we are used to. It distinguishes between two environs: mediocristan and extremistan. According to Taleb, none of the tools we have can deal with events in extremistan and these are the Black Swan events whose impacts have deeper and far-reaching consequences and it is extremistan that determines the direction or course the world takes. An extremistan event is the financial crisis which sent many large banks into bankruptcy and out of business.
  2. The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl. This is a literary fiction in the strictest sense of the word. It is a book about the writing or translating of a book. Set in 1865 Boston, The Dante Club traces Longfellow and his friends as the former translates Dante's Divine Comedy into English. As the process was going on, somebody was also translating Dante into reality, bestowing upon people the punishments Dante described seeing as he descended into Hell led by Virgil. And Longfellow, Lowel, Holmes, Fields and Green are the only ones who can investigate and arrest the perpetrator and this must be done against the Harvard establishment which was against the book's translation. The volume of research that went into this book is great and it is worth the read. Imagine a filtered Dan Brown novel in a literary setting crossed with Arturo Perez-Reverte Gutierrez.
  3. The Rational Optimist - How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley. The title of this book is deceptive. It has nothing to do with 'how to become rich', which is what those who have seen me and expressed interest about it always think. It is about how the world has moved on from the ancient to now. It explains how the world is getting better and people are becoming richer. It challenges the usual pessimistic attitude people have regarding the future. There are several debatable points in the book though and every reader will have his opinion. I am still reading this book but will want to count it as read.
To be ahead of the Caine Prize Organisation's announcement of the winner of their annual short story competition I set out to read and review all the shortlisted stories.
  1. La Salle de Depart by Melissa Tandiwe Myambo
  2. Hunter Emmanuel by Constance Myburgh
  3. Urban Zoning by Billy Kahora
  4. Bombay's Republic by Rotimi Babatunde
  5. Love on Trial by S.O. Kenani
The winner of the ten thousand pound prize was announced on July 2, 2012 and, like I predicted, it went to Rotimi's Urban Zoning.

I am changing my reading objective, not radically or entirely but gradually, towards non-fiction. It could be the reason why I read two non-fiction in June. I hope to continue with this trend but not forgetting my first love. This direction my mean that my African focus might be slightly watered down; again, not entirely and not radically. It is possible that you might not even notice any change. I can only mention one or two books I definitely will read in July:
  1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  2. Cut off my Tongue by Sitawa Namwalie
  3. If I'm so Successful, why do I feel like a fake - The Impostor Phenomenon by Joan C. Harvey with Cynthia Katz.
I've gone beyond the two; yes, I know. I hope to bounce back to active reading. What did you read and how has your reading been so far with half the year gone?

Mid Year Review
I joined and set several challenges this year in a bid to boost my reading rate and to challenge me to go beyond the limit. Kinna and I set a target of 100 or more Short Stories and 70 books. So far I'm 70 percent (base of 100) through the 100 short stories and 53 percent through the 70 books. 

I have also completed two challenges: the Chunkster Challenge, where I chose the Chubby Chunkster level which required the reading of 4 books above 450 pages, and the Africa Literature Reading Challenge. However, I am still far behind (39%) the Top 100 Books Reading Challenge even though this is a five-year challenge.

In all I have read 37 books and 15 single stories (that is short stories that are not part of any anthology and stand on their own) at 9862 pages which gives an average of 54.5 pages per day. Let me not bore you with these statistics.

Have a wonderful reading in the second half of the year.


  1. "The book thief" is a very good book, in my opinion. Enjoy! And don't worry whether you complete some readings... It's for you, isn't it?

    1. I've heard a lot about that book. Thanks. Yes, I read for myself first. lol

  2. Some womderful statistics here. You should also have a wonderful reading in this second half of the year.

  3. You're doing just fine, Nana. I've always been impressed with your reading lists and pace.


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