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Archive for January, 2020

The last few weeks have been different: I’ve started reading just for the pleasure of it again. After a long time. Let me explain.

In the past few years, since I started writing seriously, I have somewhat lost my way around reading. Writing takes up a lot of my time and energy, which means I have that much less of both to put into reading (serious readers know that even if reading is something we cherish, it doesn’t always happen without conscious time and effort on our part). So, I read less than I did before I began to write.

Books-books-books

The two-fold irony of the situation doesn’t escape me. I’m acutely aware that: a) I became a writer because I’d been an avid and eclectic reader my entire life and b) one of the habits that adds depth and body to my writing is reading regularly and voraciously across all genres.

Be that as it may, reading had eventually become work. Well, sort of. I read—fiction, nonfiction, craft-books—to “learn” (what NOT to do as much as what to do), or “improve” (my craft), or “critique” (in case of my CPs’ work) or “build” (up my writing muscles and keep them flexed). In all this—even though I was aware that it was happening and bemoaned the fact in one of my earlier blog posts—I’d lost my best friend of decades: reading just for the joy of reading.

And then a few weeks back, I woke up to a new day, shiny as a freshly-minted penny. Having just finished a major revision and packed off the WIP to my agent, I was a bundle of nerves and energy. So, idly, I picked up a book my daughter had read and recommended: SHE WOULD BE KING by Wayetu Moore. And I promptly plunged into a rabbit hole of the most pleasant, multi-pronged and diverse kind possible.

The book had all the qualities that I adore: a well-written historical with a touch of magical realism, but its best feature? It introduced me to a time period in the history of a region (West Africa) I hadn’t read much about before. I devoured that book in a couple of days and haven’t looked back since.

(If you’re interested in exploring the history and narratives of the various West African countries through fiction, I also highly recommend HOMEGOING by Yaa Gyasi and PURPLE HIBISCUS by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, though I must warn you, reader, each of these books will rip your heart into little pieces and then put it back again bit by bloody bit. But be prepared for the grief and heartache—and horror from the depravity of humankind against its own—to pulse just beneath your skin’s surface for a long time.)

Next up on my immediate TBR pile: THINGS FALL APART (a masterpiece set in Nigeria) by the lauded Chinua Achebe, UNTIL THE LIONS (retelling of the MAHABHARATA, one of the most acclaimed epic texts from India, from the viewpoint of its hitherto minor or sidelined female characters and in such stunning verse that the book demands more than one read) by Karthika Nair, REALM OF ASH (the second installment in the fantastical and fantastic BOOKS OF AMBHA series, also set in India) by Tasha Suri, and more.

(Can you see me drooling yet? 😊)

Wish you all, my readers, a very happy and contended (by your own definition) year ahead.

May you all find compelling rabbit holes into which to tumble headfirst—or to paraphrase Jane Austen: find more lanes hereabouts in which you may lose your way again to-day—willingly and willfully.

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