Overview: My reading in 2019

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Quote:  “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…. The man who never reads only lives one.” 

                                                                                                  – George R.R. Martin

2020 has rolled in with a bang and I hope it’s going to be a good one and an excellent start to a new decade.  I thought I’d take this time to reflect over my year of reading.  That’s the best way to get rid of what isn’t working and to introduce some new things to refresh.  For starters, my reading last year could best be described as “catch up reading”.  I was doing fine last year until I fell down the stairs and broke my malleolus bone in June. That’s when everything went to pot.  I wasn’t reading and nor was I journaling.  My broken ankle took up all of my energy.

However, I did get through a few audiobooks, Queenie ♥ and On the Come Up ♥♥♥♥♥ and a quarter of A Book of American Martys which I hope to be rereading and finishing at some point this year.  Once I could go back to work in September, that’s when things became hectic.  Rescheduling and planning classes became the highlight of my day.  It took a few weeks to get used to my schedule alongside physical therapy visits twice a week.

In October and November, I spearheaded a read along of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.  What a pleasure that was!  This was a fantastic read that I highly recommend and that I will surely reread one day.  My Penguin Clothbound edition comes in at 1,276 pages, making it the longest book I read this year.  November announced Nonfiction November, which is when I try to read at least 3 nonfiction novels.  That was a fail, I only read one but an excellent one, The Word: Black Writers Talk About the Transformative Power of Reading and Writing ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ by Marita Golden.  At the end of November I had the honor of attending a joint literary event in Paris with La Cene Littéraire and Book and Brunch.  The event was in honor of Elanthan John winning Le Prix les Afriques for Born on a Tuesday.  I was there to help with translation and it was a wonderful time.  Elnathan John was very interesting and gave us all food for thought
on discussing why he writes in English among other topics.

From there the 3rd of December was the book launch of the anthology,  Where We Started:  Stories of Living Between Worlds edited by Alecia McKenzie and Anna-MariaBamberger, where you can find my first published short story called Sanctuary.IMG_1782  We were five writers present at The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore in the 6th arrondisement of Paris and four reading an excerpt from our short stories.  That was aproud moment for me.  If you’re interested in reading this short story collection you can click here to purchase an ebook.  From there December finished fairly quickly.  Here’s where the catch up reading took place, from December 21 – December 28th, I found myself reading 6 books to finish the year.  I had to take advantage that I could lie around reading most of the day.  It was cold and there was no wifi so what’s left to do but read because French tv sucks!  So I finished my year with Before We Were Yours ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ which really surprised me. I was sure I wouldn’t like it and I actually found it really quite good.  I then went on to The Girl with the Hazel Eyes ♥ ♥ ♥ ∨, debut Caribbean writer, The Nickel Boys ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥, Red at the Bone ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥, In West Mill  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥, and finally Happy Parents ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (a much needed comic by Zep).  I couldn’t have ended my year of reading on a better note.

My reading stats according to Goodreads:

The Longest Book:

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

The Shortest Book:

Princess Arabella is a Big SisterMylo Freeman

Average length:

273 pages (This number needs to be higher!)

My average rating:

3.7 stars

Highest rated book I read on Goodreads:

Dear ancestors: Poems and Reflections on the African Diaspora ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Books read: (Pledged to read 50):

59

Pages Read: (This number needs to be higher too!)

16,113

So what’s the plan for my reading in 2020?  Well I’m trying to keep things simple and tie up loose ends.

  1.  Read books on my shelves!
  2.  Read #backlistbooksbliss ♥
  3. Finish up series if possible
  4. Finish up fiction books from Toni Morisson – Love and Paradise and reread Sula, Roxane Gay – An Untamed State, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie – Purple Hibiscus and The thing Around Your Neck
  5. Read 100 books! This one is going to be quite the challenge. I’m not sure I’m going to make it, but I figure I need the push to see if I can do it.  If I don’t oh well. I’ll try again next year.
  6. Continue reading Caribbean Lit

What are your reading plans for 2020?

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!  Thank you for supporting the blog! 🙂

 

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Born on a Tuesday

Born on a Tuesday opens following a gang of street boys, who are hanging in the streets and getting up to no good. They spend time smoking wee wee, pillaging, committing random acts of violence and even murder. We are introduced to the main character, Dantala, “born on a Tuesday”, alias Ahmad. His poignant first person voice recounts his coming of age story in northern Nigeria.

This poignant novel takes us through friendships, political strife, islamic extremism, and death. We as readers learn more about the real life difficulties of growing up a boy in northern Nigeria. Dantala is a boy who has seen a lot already from the beginning of the novel. In spite of this, he is still not enough street smart. He is away from his home and is supposed to be studying the Koran, Arabic, Hausa, and Math. He’s an excellent student but a horrific incident sends him running for his life from Bayan Layi. We have no idea how old he is but it’s quite clear he can’t be more than 15 years old. He finds himself weak and sick in a town called Sokoto. This is where the growth of Dantala and Born on a Tuesday continues.

I have to say I was excited to buddy read this novel with The African Book Addict. We both owned Born on a Tuesday and were anxious to get to it.  This book touches on many typical themes as most coming of age stories but this one goes much further. It explores political power, religion, and how religious extremism starts and can envelop a community and the innocent.  This novel depicts all the complexities that we can’t think of.  The writing style and the author’s capacity to make the reader feel so many different emotions in so few pages are the best things about Born on a Tuesday.  I was engrossed immediately and liked Dantala’s personality. At times I found myself mentally rooting for him and urging him not to make bad choices.

The structure of the novel was cleverly done.  It is separated into five parts ranging from 2003-2010. Part 3 begins with a chapter called Words. It’s from here where we read Dantala’s English word journal. These sections, written in italics, explore words that he had learned in English and through his journal we go deeper into his thoughts about what is going on in his life through them.  It is a diary of sorts disguised as a simple word journal. Some of the words he writes about are obsess, anthropology, terrify, discovery shrug, etc.  These passages are some of the more vulnerable moments of Dantala’s thoughts. It’s a clever device that Elnathan John uses for us to see what Dantala really thinks and feels about things.  Despite this being a first person narrative, we are immediately sucked in and believe everything he recounts. He’s a pretty reliable narrator too since he doesn’t try to lie about his feelings or actions when he is embarrassed (and there are quite a few embarrassing moments) or wrong.  I know usually readers feel first person narratives get a little too close for comfort but I can’t explain exactly why but this one could only work in that point of view.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Elnathan John and I can’t wait to get to another one. His writing is unfaltering and informative. Born on a Tuesday was shortlisted for the NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2016. After reading this one I’d like to know which title won.  Elnathan John is a writer and novelist and is one of Nigeria’s most well-known satirist.  If you’d like to read more of Elnathan John’s writing check out his blog Elnathan’s Dark Corner.

My copy:  Born on a Tuesday, Elnathan John (Cassava Republic), paperback 261 pages

My rating:  * * * * *

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