Wednesday, February 06, 2013

January in Review... Projections for February

The reading target for 2013 is not different from that of 2012: I intend to read 70 books this year. Consequently, I have set a target of at least 50 pages a day and 6 books a month. These strategies helped me achieve the 2012 targets and I hope it will help this time around.

A total of 7 books were read in January. These gave a total of 1642 pages or 53 pages per day. The following:
  1. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. This was the first book I read this year, obviously. It is about the life of a young boy who survives a shipwreck, alone, and what he went through. However, the book is much more than just the story of a castaway. It gives hope and faith; it shows how much we can achieve if we put our minds to it and believe in it. Piscine Molitor Patel's story is one worth the read and if you're not the reading type, just read it. Or watch the movie adaptation which I cannot confirm if it stuck to the story.
  2. The Periodic Table by Primo Levi. This is a non-fiction, largely autobiographical story about the author. It narrates his life using the elements of the periodic table both as symbols of what happened to him and and how they actually influenced his life. Primo, at an early age, had interest in Chemistry and so stayed with it through his college and university education. It was this intransigence to his profession, always seeking new ways to do things and his dedication that saved him at Auschwitz.
  3. The Best of Simple by Langston Hughes. What a book. Written in a series of short stories, this book tells of how Simpel lives his life during the periodic of American segregation. Langston arranged his short stories to tell a complete story of the everyday struggles of Black Americans and their psychology during those days.
  4. Speeches that Changed the World by Emma Beare (Editor). This is a collection of speeches and one-liners and responses. It is arranged from the ancient period to the present and has been edited (parts left out) for easy reading. I, however, think more famous speeches could have been added. As it is now, it's very western and even that one would have expected some major speeches to be present. Again, though a historical background was sometimes given, the result of that speech - which made it changed the world - would have enhanced its appreciation.
  5. Gathering Seaweeds by Jack Mapanje (Editor). Gathering Seaweeds is an anthology of poems, letters, speeches and essays by Africans who have at one point in their time become political prisoners or have had political infractions with the law. Though most of the names are famous, like Nkrumah, Mandela, Kaunda, there are lesser known ones. However, what makes this anthology stands out is not the number of unique individuals or the detailed description of their imprisonment; what makes this collection important and worth studying is how similar the descriptions of treatments meted out to incarcerated prisoners were both before (or during the struggle for) independence and after independence. It shows that the evil never left; it assumed a new form. Mapanji did well to put this anthology together.
  6. Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. I read the Ola Rotimi's version of this play, titled The Gods are not to Blame and liked it. This play touches on fate and choice when it comes to destiny. Are our destinies pre-ordained? Are our actions only leading to its realisation? These philosophical principles are discussed in this Greek tragedy.
  7. The Ghost of Sani Abacha by Chuma Nwokolo. Chuma's 26 short story anthology is a delight to read. Whether he is describing the marital home, pastoral duties, politics, or botched love affairs, Chuma writes from a point of knowledge that can only come from keen observation. He has a way with words and he strings them together beautifully. Chuma understands how problems begin: asymmetric information arising from the 'I am sure or certain, mine is true' attitude people put on. The stories are varied and definitely the reader may find more than enough favourites.
Currently, I am reading Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Wizard of the Crow, a book of 768 pages - a chunkster of a chunkster. This means that perhaps my reading target of 6 might not be achieved in February; but who knows? In addition to this, I intend to read Fathers and Daughters - an Anthology of Exploration by Ato Quayson.


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